The two Principals of Stella Oak Financial & Insurance Services — Brandon Matloff, CLTC® and Suneel Garg, MBA, CLU® — have always been attracted to bold ideas.
“If everybody else goes to the right, Brandon and I ask: ‘What’s on the left?’” says Garg.
Stella Oak is a boutique financial services firm backed by the extensive resources of the Northwestern Mutual Wealth Management Company. They offer personal wealth solutions as diverse and discerning as the clients they serve. Many of those clients are part of the LGBTQ community.
For the team at Stella Oak, financial planning is about more than a portfolio of investments. The most effective financial plans center around achieving a life purpose, like retirement, education, or starting a family. In conversations with clients, they often heard about the unique challenges — and tremendous expense — associated with LGBTQ family formation, including in vitro fertilization (IVF) and adoption.
Matloff and Garg wanted to do something to help these families. They saw an opportunity to focus part of their business on helping LGBTQ individuals, couples, and families. But they needed a marketing firm to guide their outreach.
Matloff turned to Laura Landergott, the founding partner and Curator of Impact of Whole Growth Partners (WGP), to lead the strategic direction of their efforts. Her marketing expertise and outside-the-box ideas immediately impressed Matloff and Garg.
“Laura and her firm figured out what works for us and then crafted something that works in this space,” says Garg. “She met us where we were and pushed the accelerator.”
First, Landergott set up one-on-one interviews with Stella Oak’s LGBTQ clients to talk about what mattered most to them. She took notes on their concerns, fears, and long-term dreams — things that don’t often come up in professional conversations. These interviews informed the marketing strategy and tactics WGP created. But they also helped the Stella Oak team approach their LGBTQ clients with more empathy and understanding.
After developing a marketing plan, WGP jumped right into the implementation phase — allowing Matloff and Garg to spend more time on client-centered work. WGP created website content focused on the LGBTQ community, a sophisticated digital firm profile, and community advertising, as well as memberships and engagement with local LGBTQ organizations.
Landergott also suggested that Stella Oak create a podcast focused on all things LGBTQ. The podcast, which will launch in fall, sent waves of excitement through the firm.
The idea that resonated most with Matloff and Garg was founding a nonprofit organization. With Landergott’s assistance, they are launching The Giving Collective of the South Bay to create exponential change within LA’s LGTBQ community. Comprised of numerous donors, the Collective aggregates contributions to create larger financial impact. Every year, the organization will focus on a topic important to the LGBTQ community and offer grants to further the work of organizations in the community. The first year, The Giving Collective of the South Bay will focus on family formation.
Matloff is passionate about reinvesting in the community. “We’re trying to do something bigger than ourselves,” he says. “The marketing strategy developed for us by Whole Growth Partners will not only bring about significant growth for our business, but also make an enduring impact on the LA area.”
This philanthropic vision has generated a lot of social equity for Stella Oak. Matloff says The Giving Collective of the South Bay is already leading to better referrals. Stella Oak’s diverse team took to the idea with gusto, and nearly all the candidates in their recent hiring phase mentioned their interest in the nonprofit.
“It’s been a really nice added benefit that we didn’t really expect,” says Matloff. “We definitely feel it in the culture of the firm that we’re building.”
Landergott is proud of what she has accomplished for Stella Oak so far. The results are yet another example, among many in her client portfolio, that marketing can do real good in the world, while also meeting strategic goals.
“I look for ways to connect business outcomes with what clients are most passionate about,” Landergott says. “That’s the true measure of a good marketing strategy.”