At Oceanstate Financial Services, team-building is accomplished through fun activities.
It could be a reward trip for the financial advisers to someplace like Las Vegas or a Greek island. Or it could be something small, like pizza parties on rainy days, paid for by the company. “We’re always doing something that promotes camaraderie,” said Ann Swartz, the company’s chief operating officer and head of the East Providence office.
Oceanstate is the Rhode Island branch of New England Financial Services, one of the region’s oldest and largest privately owned financial-services firms. The agency is owned by New England Life Insurance Co., headquartered in Boston. The business involves providing clients with strategies for investing, buying insurance, planning retirement and other financial matters.
New England Financial’s 331 employees – including 54 in Rhode Island – are well-compensated for their work. Salaried employees enjoy an average annual pay check in the six figures; others earn an average of $45,000. The company also pays 75 to 99 percent of health, prescription and dental insurance coverage.
But employees say it’s also the atmosphere that makes them stay with Oceanstate.
“I get a lot of help from the support staff,” said Guido Sarcione, one of the financial advisers working in Rhode Island. “They’re very attentive. At the same time there’s a lot of autonomy. You get to make your own decisions.”
“I’ve been in this business for 34 years, and this is the best company I’ve worked for,” added Anne Alix, case manager for new business. “This is a warm and supporting office, and everyone is very professional.”
To keep that spirit alive, Oceanstate makes a real effort to boost morale and bring employees together. A half-dozen times a year the company hosts Happy Hour events, which also raise money for Baystate Financial Charitable Foundation, the company charity. The events could be anything from a golf tournament or an American Idol contest with a live band.
And on the first Friday in February, there’s a Black Tie Gala, an upscale dinner-and-dancing affair for all staff members and advisers who hit their production goals. This year it was held in Boston. “It’s a great opportunity for staff from all the New England states to get together,” Swartz said.
There’s also a vacation condominium in Orlando, Fla., that is available to everyone – both advisers and support staff – for up to two weeks at a stretch. “It’s a wonderful perk,” Swartz said. “There are fresh linens and towels, the refrigerator is stocked. Everything is provided.”