It appears to be the biggest, newest house on the street. The first thing you notice about the Fiori Financial Group headquarters is that, well, it doesn’t look like a headquarters; it looks like a home. A home that’s bigger and newer than all the other homes on the street, but a home nonetheless. As you walk through the front yard – putting green on the east side of the front yard, small dog park on the west – to the front door, you can be forgiven for thinking you might be interrupting a family meal.
Once inside though, the Croissant Park building’s actual purpose reveals itself. A modern central waiting room opens up to partially open-plan spaces on either side. Dogs – including CEO Margaux Fiori’s two little furpals, Prada and Aspen – walk around freely. Just off the waiting room sits the small “Zen Room” featuring a massaging zero-gravity chair. It’s not exactly a cubicle farm. “We didn’t build a regular building,” says CEO Fiori. “We call it a lifestyle building.” With the help of Architectural Alliance, it became just that.
The entire second floor is given over to a large … well, “conference room” isn’t exactly the right word. White couches are laid out around half of the room with a high tea set, wine cart and liquor cart nearby. A door opens onto a large deck with a barbecue grill and wooden rocking chairs. On the other side of the room, beyond a glass-walled conference room, is the massive open-plan kitchen. Clients sometimes come up here to hang out, Fiori says. Employees use the space for lunch or just a few minutes’ relaxation. When events are a thing again, Fiori plans to offer out the second floor as a meeting and event space to not-for-profits.
It’s a building that’s ready to be shown off – but of course, there hasn’t been that much of that. It was finished just more than a year ago in January 2020. Plans were being made for events, for charities to use the space, for plenty. And then … well, you know what then.
“The bummer was that we completed it and we were ready to showcase it, and obviously COVID hit and we haven’t done anything – except for perfect it since we’ve been here,” Fiori says.
In addition to Fiori’s financial advising firm, the building’s home to several related companies. Attorneys, accountants, sports management, a concierge who organizes high-end vacations – basically, services that somebody who needs Fiori might also need. “We were very selective of the people we chose to come in the building,” Fiori says.“It’s all intertwined with our business. It’s sticky; everybody needs everybody. It’s pretty much a one-stop shop for the high-net-worth person, and we wanted them to feel that when they walk in. Like it’s their home.”
Much of this – the putting green, the dogs in the office, the bar and kitchen – might sound like the sort of trendy thing that happens in Silicon Valley or Austin. And there’s an element of that, but Fiori also credits something else. She’s an Italian-American from New York; when you walk into her home, she says, you get food. You get a drink. It’s social. She wanted an office like that too.
It also serves a business purpose. Fiori started at Morgan Stanley – think wood paneling and imposing furniture. “Just totally, totally intimidating,” Fiori says. Then she’d go into other Manhattan offices, some of the most expensive in the world, and find more of the same, marble from Italy, etc.
“I looked at all the types of offices that advisers were building out and I never felt comfortable in any of the offices,” she says.
She has practical reasons for not wanting her workspace to be like that.
“Money is a very personal thing,” she says. “It’s a very personal subject to talk about.”
Frankly, she says, the Bernie Madoffs of the world have created trust issues for her industry. “That’s something that we’re constantly up against,” she says.
But putting clients at ease goes a long way towards overcoming that.
“When you make a person comfortable and don’t intimidate them – even in your lingo, the verbiage we use is so relaxed and funny – I think that puts people at ease and they think ‘Wow, they’re regular like us. This is their wheelhouse and they’re enjoying it.’
“That alone makes them feel comfortable that they’re not (just) one of the numbers, the set-it-and-forget-it mentality.”
Fiori financial advisor Abraham Arce has seen this at work.
“Every single time a client comes in here, they’re blown away with the way it looks,” he says. That helps to build rapport. “The clients we have are no longer clients; they have become family.
“The time and effort and idea behind creating this building was something you can tell Margaux really wanted to portray,” he says. “Every single detail in the building – her imagination is all over this building. For me, when I walk into the office, I don’t feel like I’m working anymore, I feel like I’m going from one home to another home.”