Stewards of the jersey
“Better people make better All Blacks.” – Mantra of the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team.
In 2004, the troubled All Blacks adopted a new team philosophy—one that would eventually contribute to their 2011 and 2015 Rugby World Cup championships. This new ideology, which puts emphasis on personal character and leadership, also earned them an over 80% win rate as of 2016. But the trophies that have been accumulating as a result of this new philosophy are not what’s most impressive; the players have become a revitalized group of better people in all walks of life.
In his book, “Legacy: What the All Blacks Can Teach Us About the Business of Life”, James Kerr contends, “If better people make better All Blacks, they also make better doctors and lawyers, better fathers, mothers, brothers, daughters and friends.” This concept of being better people resonates as a continued source of inspiration for me within our own firm’s culture.
The way the All Blacks operate is that everyone has a role to play for the greater good of the team. Everybody fulfills their role to the best of their ability, not just for individual success but for the team to succeed. Kerr explains that to become an All Black means to become a “steward of the jersey, a steward of the cultural legacy.” As a team member, it is your responsibility to leave the jersey in a better place than when you found it. Not only do you represent yourself and the team, you represent all the people that came before and all the people who will come after.
At Mawer, our mantra is “Do the right thing”, so it matters a lot to us who puts on our jersey. We look for people who want to be and do better. As with the All Blacks, it’s important that there’s something bigger at play when we come into the office than just our individual work output. Everybody has a unique role to play on our shared journey to become the best investment firm in the world. We achieve that by fulfilling our primary role as stewards of our clients’ hard earned capital to the best of our individual and collective abilities.
Ideally, better people make better investors too. With a higher purpose than the present we are better equipped to make investment decisions in the best interests of our clients over the long term versus the short term. Because we’re building the firm to last we’re very conscious of succession planning, continuity of focus and strategy, and making decisions that may be painful in the short term but are intended to create client wealth in the long run.
Striving to leave the jersey in better condition than we found it means evolving as both people and as an organization. It means regularly challenging ourselves to find new ways to get better versus staying status quo and resting on our laurels. Ultimately, this coordinated effort for people to perform at their best benefits clients because it leads to more efficient process, better service, and better investment decisions. While these results may be a bit boring compared to the glory of hoisting a world rugby cup like the New Zealand All Blacks, we’re confident our jersey will smell fresher than theirs when it comes time to pass it on.