CEO Weekly INsights
April 11, 2018
Selecting Clients That Were Philanthropic Gave a Leading Financial Services Firm a Unique Advantage
According to former CEO of the CMS Companies Paul Silberberg (now a community leader, educator, author, and philanthropist), “Doing well and doing good are inextricably linked.” Beyond being a successful company, CMS’ uniqueness was its deep CSR commitment.
Paul says, “As long as I can remember, CMS applied three criteria for selecting new clients:
- They were successful entrepreneurs.
- They lived or worked within two or three hours of Philadelphia, so we had a shot at getting home for dinner with our families.
- Most important, we tried to do business only with people with whom we shared values and who had a big heart."
"We looked for people who really cared about more than just creating wealth for themselves and their families. We wanted to be working with people who were trying to use that wealth to help repair the world in some way. We found that people who actively practiced philanthropy were not just more enjoyable to be with, but they also made better clients,” adds Paul.
“Like the Satell Institute today, we were cause agnostic. We didn’t care what cause our clients contributed to - inner city work, save the whales, hug the trees – as long as it was legal and ethical."
“This enabled us to tap into entrepreneurs who, like us, desired to have an impact on society and make a difference.”
CMS’ written mission had been to create wealth for clients and communities
“Our clients told us that products and services were not enough. They required integrity and preferred to do business with people who gave back to the community. CMS’ mission for almost half a century had been to create wealth for clients, for the community and for CMS, and in that order,” says Paul.
“My partners and I believed there are two kinds of people in the world - miners and farmers. Miners only take out. Farmers take out but also put something back. We wanted to be associated with farmers,” adds Paul.
“One of CMS’ responsibilities was making this a better world than we found it. We, as a firm, were committed to helping others who were less fortunate than ourselves to develop their full potential. As a principal of the firm, it was my responsibility to teach these values to our employees. Each year, we closed for a Day of Caring when all of us worked together on a project such as rehabbing an inner-city child-care center, and many of our associates, myself included, mentored students from disadvantaged neighborhoods as part of the Big Brother/Big Sister program. CMS employees contributed to the United Way and for years were recognized for making the biggest per-capita gifts in Philadelphia. One of our employees initiated the CMS Turkey-a-Thon, which provided hundreds of Thanksgiving meals for homeless families each year. I could go on,” adds Paul.
CMS was the managing partner of a buyers' co-operative, which helped a select group of successful entrepreneurs grow, manage, and preserve their wealth. INC MAGAZINE once called CMS the “Ultimate Investment Club for Entrepreneurs”.
Productivity improves when companies engage in CSR programs
“We observed, in the 1970s, that employees who work for organizations they consider to be ethical are less fearful, less likely to compromise their values, and more able to throw themselves into their jobs. To me, this was news - great news!” says Paul.
“We found out that American employees want a deeper sense of meaning and fulfillment on the job - even more than they want money and time off. For many years, I made it a point to meet with new hires. To a person, they commented that our commitment to community service was one of the leading motivators for wanting to join CMS.”
Next Generation CSR
“In the Fall of 2017, my daughter, Tamar Silberberg Shiffman, along with her childhood friend Aaron Toben, recruited me to join them in creating two new companies,” says a delighted Paul. “One of the companies, Concierge Insurance Solutions, is a Property and Casualty brokerage. The other, CIS Analytics, provides a comprehensive Portfolio Analysis and Vulnerability Assessment on a fee basis, with no obligation to place the coverage through our brokerage. We are one of the few firms in the US focused exclusively on high-end personal lines, as opposed to commercial lines.”
Paul is proud to report that Tamar and Aaron insisted that right from the beginning they should be adopting “CMS-type CSR programs”. This generation of “farmers” will allocate a percentage of the firm’s profits to philanthropy.
Devoted to giving back
Paul’s passion to do good and do well has created significant rewards for his clients, for his community, for CMS and for himself.
One of his many talents is raising funds for causes near to his heart. Paul chaired the $80 million Yemin Orde “Built to Last” campaign to support at-risk children in Israel. His Ofanim campaign retro-fitted buses as mobile labs used for educating children in remote villages in Israel.
In Philadelphia. Paul originated and co-chaired the nationally acclaimed MISSION 1000 in 1989. He chaired the $10 million campaign to build the Raymond and Ruth Perelman Jewish Day School and co-chaired Philadelphia’s record-breaking United Way Alexis de Tocqueville campaign.
Today, in addition to his duties at his two new companies, this “CSR pioneer” is an Adjunct Professor at the Fox School of Business of Temple University, where he teaches an MBA course on leadership, entrepreneurship, and ethics.
Last year, he shared stories of his career in his book The Ethical Entrepreneur, Succeeding in Business without Selling Your Soul, published by Morgan James Publishing.
Recently, he joined the Advisory Board of the Satell Institute.
“What impressed me was the authenticity of the Satell Institute.”
“I believe in the Satell Institute’s honesty, transparency, integrity, efficiency, and effectiveness. I’ve known Ed for 30 years, and know he’s the real deal. Ed says, ‘Follow Me,’ Before you know it, me and 30 other CEOs are doing just that. I’m amazed at the quality of the people around the table. They are doers as opposed to talkers. I’m very glad I am part of this Collective Force.”
Solid reasons why many business professionals are enrolled in the Satell Institute – UPenn Online CSR Course
The course is self-paced and flexible.
Busy young professionals can take it when it fits their schedules.
The educational quality is strong.
The course instructors are Peter Frumkin, Femida Handy, Lonneke Roza, and Robert Bird. These are some of the world’s leading minds in CSR.
Part of an international learning community.
The course brings CSR interested people together from all over the world and encourages them to exchange ideas and join discussions.
A verified certificate of achievement.
Those who successfully complete the course will be awarded a signed certificate of achievement, verified by the University of Pennsylvania and the Satell Institute. The certificate can be featured on a resume and LinkedIn profile.
Lastly, but equally important, it is free because it is underwritten by the Satell Institute.
Everyone who has a computer, tablet or smartphone can access the course on the prestigious MIT-Harvard edX learning platform.