Meet the Alpha Team

February 4, 2019 Craig Maddock


So much of what we do these days involves the cloud, whether it's streaming our favourite shows and music or accessing our data wherever we are in the world. As cloud computing has grown, so too has our capacity to do more—we can work smarter, faster, and more efficiently.

As we've learned recently at MD, cloud computing isn't the only way to scale up and work better—sometimes big changes can also happen when you introduce new ways to engage people and work together to bring fresh ideas across our organization.

It all started back in 2017. Our small but mighty team of investment professionals was working well together: so well, in fact, that we had little turnover, despite a long list of people who wanted to work with us and understand how we make investment decisions. We didn't need new full-time team members, but we welcomed something else—a fresh perspective that could help our team expand our horizons and work more efficiently.

My colleague Wesley Blight had a great idea: to invite other MD employees with an interest in investments to help. People could dedicate a modest amount of their discretionary time (no more than 10 hours a quarter) and, in exchange, we would enable them to develop valuable new skills—all without having to leave their existing roles. It was a great way to maximize our resources and achieve the kind of scalability that cloud computing has brought to so many businesses—but with real people instead of data.

Wes' initial idea has grown into what we call the Alpha Team—by putting in that bit of extra time at work, our MD colleagues can have a terrific career development opportunity and benefit from one-on-one coaching from senior members of our team like Wes. We also engage their managers, working to help create a development plan that aligns with their full-time role and goals.

While our main mission was to generate new ideas in exchange for a great career building opportunity, this program has had a much bigger impact than we originally imagined. It's improved how we work and how we communicate the decisions we make to our clients.

Here's a great example: we recently worked with an Alpha Team member who works directly with MD clients. While he wanted to explore the investment analysis side of our business, he brought his client-focused experience to our team. It's helped us gain a better understanding of how to distill the complex investment concepts we deal with in a way that is meaningful to our clients. That team member turned out to be a great communicator—in fact, we still work with him to create updates that are clear and understandable.

We all know that workplaces want to be more efficient and to foster a collaborative culture—but for many it's easier said than done. I'm proud to say that the Alpha Team has helped MD move in the right direction. From an investments standpoint, as a team that deals in uncertainty and is tasked with making decisions in the face of many unknowns, having fresh and different perspectives at the table has helped us generate new ideas and to work better.

The Alpha Team has supported our strong foundational belief at MD that a great client experience can only be achieved once you've created a great employee experience.

The benefits of a successful culture translate directly to better service for our clients—better investment decision-making, better service, and an ability to attract and retain the best people to work on their behalf day in and day out.

Just as cloud computing has transformed our world and the world around us, so too can small changes make a transformative difference in how we work together as people at MD. That's the power of collaboration.

About the Author

Craig Maddock

CRAIG MADDOCK, CFP, CFA, CIM, MBA, is Vice President with the Investment Management team at MD Financial Management. He leads the team of portfolio managers and investment analysts responsible for managing the firm’s mutual funds and investment pools.

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