Putting Stock in Workplace: Treating Employees Right Supports Investment and Trading Educator's Mission

Originally published on Orange County Register, February 19, 2015.

Love is not a word one would generally expect to find in a business plan, especially for a company with close ties to the world of investment and stock trading. Yet, for Online Trading Academy, love is one of the firm’s core values, along with passion, trust, respect, collaboration and innovation.

Love also helps define the work environment of the Irvine-based firm, which has twice been named among the Orange County Register’s Top Workplaces, most recently in 2014.

“We truly love our employees and strive to give them an outstanding workplace and career opportunities,” said Gene Longobardi, Chief Operating Officer for Online Trading Academy.

Nurturing a positive work environment is the first step in carrying out the mission of the firm, which was initially launched in 1997 as the training arm of Block Trading, later known as Momentum Securities. After Momentum Securities was sold, Online Trading Academy opened its first center in Irvine in 2003.

Online Trading Academy’s training programs cover a spectrum of trading styles and asset classes, such as short-term, swing and position trading, as well as investment theory for stocks, exchange-traded funds, options, futures and currencies. To date, the firm has provided its services to more than 150,000 students.

“Our mission to transform lives starts with our employees, and we believe our employees are inspired by doing their part to transform the lives of their fellow employees and our students,” Longobardi said. “We all live this mission and believe we are doing something that is truly making a difference in our world. With an intense focus on this mission, our people thrive and create a great business.”

The company’s formula seems to be working. Online Trading Academy increased its worldwide revenues by 50 percent last year and has doubled revenues consistently every two years, according to Longobardi. Other recent achievements include the rollout of a brand-new online learning platform, the opening several new training centers in the United States and the purchase and complete remodel of its headquarters and flagship campus in Irvine.

The firm has rolled out completely new curricula on a broad array of financial topics designed to be relevant to every adult and has introduced real-estate education for investors.

In addition to its Top Workplaces awards, accolades received by the company includes numerous awards from FxStreet and TraderPlanet, and even international recognition at the London Investor Show and the Middle East Forex Expo.

Carrying out the company’s values begins with its leadership.

“It starts with their love,” says Gaylene Galliford, Director of Product Solutions. “They don’t shake hands; they hug because they believe the human touch is powerful. They try to create positive energy every day to provide an environment where people feel free to innovate and create, free of fear of failure.”

The company’s leadership also strives to foster an extremely collaborative work environment and provide employees with the flexibility and resources needed to do exceptional work. Leadership also maintains a “dynamic growth focus,” Galliford said, which creates opportunities for employees and their families and keeps energies focused on innovation and continuous improvement.

Promoting from within is a priority at Online Trading Academy, which has a department devoted to providing training for all employees and franchisees worldwide. The company uses outside training and empowers employees with a robust library of online training courses. Plus, every employee has access to the company’s training on financial education.

“And, our focus on rapid growth creates advancement opportunities for everyone,” Galliford noted.

Online Trading Academy’s low turnover rate is achieved by treating people well and hiring the right people, according to Longobardi. Among prospective candidates, the firm looks for positive energy and great attitudes. Each potential new hire is interviewed by senior executives to ensure that they will fit into the firm’s culture and contribute positively to the company’s energy and environment. Longobardi noted that a large number of instructors and student-support personnel are former students who were so positively impacted by our training that they wanted to give back to new students.

“We are fanatical about creating a great customer experience of lifelong learning and believe in our hearts that when we treat our employees with great love and respect, they will in turn treat our students that way,” he said.

Through annual donations, Online Trading Academy lends support to Larger Than Life, an organization that improves the quality of life of children inflicted with cancer. The company also empowers its centers to do local philanthropy and support charities around the world. For example, its United Kingdom center raised money to aid a young Mexican girl who needed an artificial leg. In addition, the leadership group is involved in a variety of personal philanthropic endeavors.

The original article can be found at this page.

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