Shop talk

Looking to calm your clients? Test out a dachshund

Michael McNamara has brought his three dogs to his advisory firm for years to create a relaxed atmosphere

Mar 30, 2010 @ 11:52 am

By Lisa Shidler

No client enters McNamara Financial Services Inc. without being greeted by the friendly barks of three energetic dachshunds.

It may be unconventional, but this family-owned advisory firm has used the three dogs — Dash, Brooklyn and Trot — as greeters at their office for the past four years. They trio will also roll over and shake hands with clients, especially if there's a reward involved.

“Clients know they're going to be here, and some of them bring treats for the dogs,” said Michael McNamara, a senior partner at the firm, which manages close to $300 million in assets. “There's not much stress. It's really kind of cool.”

Mr. McNamara said the addition of the greeters to his office staff has helped keep the atmosphere relaxed — no small feat, considering the anxiety felt by many investors over the past couple years. The three dogs are even listed on the company's website (mcnamarafinancial.com) in the Meet Our Staff section as "corporate greeters," complete with a short biography and picture. The biography tells readers that when the dogs aren't working hard in the office, all three like playing ball, chewing rawhide bones and snuggling.

Mr. McNamara explained that seven years ago, his daughter, Alyssa, who works with him as an adviser and partner, bought a mini-male Dachshund named Trot and began bringing him to the office. Two years later, she got a female mini-dachshund named Brooklyn. At the same time that Brooklyn joined the office ranks, Mr. McNamara and his wife got a male mini-dachshund named Dash. For the last four years, the dogs have been in the office nearly every day.

But the McNamara office has other dogs that visit too. Mr. McNamara's son, Justin, who also works at the office as an adviser and partner, adopted a mutt named Ollie more than a year ago that he brings to the office at least once or twice a week to play with the dachshunds. Justin McNamara and his wife recently adopted a second rescue mutt named Lilly who also visits the office once or twice a week.

For those keeping track, that means that on any given day, the advisory office has five dogs running around the office.

“When you see five dogs running around, it gets a little confusing,” Mr. McNamara said. “But people keep coming back. We've never had anyone who is scared or allergic to the dogs.”

As for whether there have been any accidents on the carpet, Mr. McNamara concedes there may have been a few when the dogs were puppies, but now they're all properly trained.

“People think it's really kind of special,” he said. “They're cuddly little dogs.”

Shop Talk is a regular column detailing how financial advisers run their businesses. The column focuses on unusual or innovative ways to attract more clients. Suggestions or tips for Shop Talk? E-mail Lisa Shidler at lshidler@investmentnews.com or visit the Shop Talk page at InvestmentNews/shoptalk.

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