All You Need is Love: Financial-Trading Educator Keeps Workplace Thriving with Emphasis on Nurturing Environment

Originally published on Orange County Register, February 10, 2016.

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, Online Trading Academy holds love as one of its core company values, along with passion, trust, respect, collaboration and innovation.

Love also helps define the work environment of the Irvine-based firm, which has been named among the Orange County Register’s Top Workplaces three of the past five years, most recently in 2015.

“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.

'Transforming lives'

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.

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 200,000 students worldwide. The company also provides real-estate investing education through its subsidiary, OTA Real Estate, and has launched a wide array of financial-education curriculum on subjects such as retirement planning, credit optimization, social security and taxes.

“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.”

Wide recognition

The company’s formula seems to be working. Online Trading Academy operates 38 company-owned and franchised financial education campuses around the world and also provides all of its courses online in a live environment and in self-paced learning modules. Students can take courses in any combination of modalities and have access to all courses for life. The company has been rapidly expanding its financial-education curriculum and support resources, as well as expanding and upgrading campuses around the globe.

In addition to its Top Workplaces awards, accolades received by the company include numerous awards from FxStreet and TraderPlanet, and even international recognition at the London Investor Show and the Middle East Forex Expo. Most recently, the company was honored with a silver award at Brandon Hall Group’s Excellence in Learning Awards for the Best Advance in Unique Learning Technology in partnership with Zavango Corp.

Creating 'positive energy'

Carrying out the company’s values begins with its leadership, according to Gaylene Galliford, Director of Product Solutions for Online Trading Academy.

“It starts with their love,” Galliford said. “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 noted, which creates opportunities for employees and their families and keeps energies focused on innovation and continuous improvement.

Holding internal promotion as a priority, Online Trading Academy 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.

Hiring right

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,” Longobardi 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 girl who needed an artificial leg. In addition, the leadership group is involved in a variety of personal philanthropic endeavors. The company also gives scholarships to military veterans as a way of honoring their commitment to the nation.

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