Best Places to Work Winner: Baird Asset Management

Milwaukee | Founded in 1919 | 52 money management employees Ranks 1st among companies with fewer than 100 employees

Baird pumpkin
Robert W. Baird hosts a pumpkin carving contest on Halloween.

In 2004, Milwaukee-based Robert W. Baird & Co. became an employee-owned company, a key reason Baird Asset Management employees rank it as a Best Places to Work in Money Management.

Employees who responded to the Pensions & Investments survey also cited their colleagues and the financial services firm's commitment to clients as reasons it's a place they love to work.

One employee wrote: “Baird maintains extremely high expectations of its associates and does a great job finding people that like and accept that challenge. It combines these high expectations with a deep and honest belief that happy employees equal happy, satisfied customers and it proactively strives to achieve that satisfaction.”

Another wrote: “I have a rewarding job that challenges me and I get to work alongside people I truly admire and respect.”

Mary Ellen Stanek, managing director of the parent firm, director of Baird Asset Management and president of Baird Funds, cited the firm's dedication to its employees, recalling when a portfolio manager came to her office to announce she was expecting triplets but wanted to continue her career.

“We backed her to the hilt,” Ms. Stanek said. “(We told her:) Absolutely we'll figure this out with you. We consider you a valuable asset to the team and the firm.”

“People matter, so the talent is celebrated and valued every day, allowed to do their best work, and come and build their careers here,” she said.

Paul Purcell, Baird chairman, president and CEO, said of the associates in the firm: “They are our primary asset. We know if we do several things there — if we hire the best people, train the best people, and retain the best people — we will win the long-term war.”

“If you get the best people and take care of the best people long term, very good things will happen long term,” he said.

“The values of the firm, we actually have them listed in our annual report (and) in our training. Basically it's about teamwork, it's about integrity, it's about clients coming first,” said Leslie Dixon, managing director and chief human capital officer.

What employees also value is the “no jerks” rule at Baird.

“We actually have a class today called the Baird Difference, which we put leaders and new hires through,” said Ms. Dixon. In the class, employees define how to protect and maintain a positive environment.

As one employee respondent to the survey wrote, “We don't hire jerks, and there are too many of them in this industry.”

“The people! They make it easy to come to work!” wrote another.