Dave Porter is owner and managing partner of Baystate Financial Services, which owns Oceanstate Financial Services in East Providence. Baystate is one of Massachusetts’ oldest and largest financial services firms. In addition to his responsibilities at Baystate Financial Services, Porter travels the country as a national speaker to advise others on how to build successful financial services organizations based on accountability and recently penned “Where Winners Live,” a book sharing tips on how to reach success through accountability.
PBN: Oceanstate Financial Services in East Providence, an affiliate of Baystate Financial Services, provides a large variety of financial, retirement and investment services. How do you view the economy in Rhode Island and Massachusetts In the coming year or two?
PORTER: The one thing that is on everybody’s mind is the economy and the next couple of months are going to be vital to where the U.S. economy heads. Massachusetts and Rhode Island have somewhat different economies, the former with the stability of life sciences, finance and technology, while Rhode Island has its own unique sectors. Unless we get people back to work, stabilize tax rates and provide an overall comfort level to business owners, we may stagnate and potentially face another recession. Right now, business owners are hesitant to spend money and invest in their business not knowing what taxes they owe, but I do believe Rhode Island is on the right track in luring businesses to the state even post-38 Studios. It’s time to learn from our mistakes and capitalize on other opportunities.
PBN: You became the owner and CEO of Baystate Financial Services at age 35.How have you advanced the company since then?
PORTER: When I purchased the company at age 35, we had 49 employees and were in a tailspin. Our gross revenue was in the million dollar range. Today, we have 500 plus associates and more than $60 million in revenue. This growth started with our four guiding principles: integrity, competency, professionalism and work ethic. We have some of the best financial advisers in the United States operating under these tenants, who in turn provide the guidance, insight and objective planning their clients need, which has been a hallmark of our success.
PBN: How did Baystate and OceanState fare through the 2008 economic collapse and how are you faring now?
PORTER: We actually had one of our better years in 2008 and have continued to thrive in this challenging economy. People are so afraid of what’s happening with their savings and retirement today that they are seeking sound financial advice from advisers like us. Our reputation and the due diligence we utilize have given our clients a comfort level with their financial planning. In a soaring economy and booming stock market, the majority of people see their savings and retirement grow. In the difficult economy we’re in today, only the best advisers and firms thrive with an educated approach and objective planning. Whether the economy is good or bad, we stick to our disciplined approach, which has enabled us to grow during the past few years.
PBN: You recently wrote a book coming out this spring "Where Winners Live." Congratulations. How is fiscal accountability achieved in the business world, what do you mean by the term?
PBN: Accountability simply means you own the outcome. Responsibility is close, but not quite as demanding as accountability. Fiscal accountability in the business world should be centered on doing what you say you’re going to do. Many in our field spout optimistic predictions to clients that sound wonderful, but the problem is that these folks soon fade into the background and are rarely asked the follow up question: “You said this, but that didn’t happen, so what are you going to do about it?” We would have a lot less false promises and a lot more answers if we simply did what we said we would.
PBN: On a personal level, how does one achieve accountability despite, say, unemployment/underemployment, or mounting debt caused by the Great Recession?
PORTER: Personal accountability starts with the mindset of doing what you said you were going to do and finishing what you started. Listen to what somebody says and count the excuses of why they can’t get something done. For truly accountable people, there are no excuses. I do not believe anyone can live one excuse-free day, but I do believe that if you don’t over promise or over commit, do what you said you would and finish what you started, you can reach fairly close to 100 percent accountability. I will leave you with this thought: When was the last time you were accountable to someone or something and you finished the task? How great did that feel? Everybody needs to start somewhere, even in tough economic times, and achieving success would be much easier and more rewarding if we were all more accountable.