Caltius employees are all smiles at the annual fundraiser for Heal the Bay, an environmental advocacy non-profit organization focused on protecting California's Santa Monica Bay.

Caltius Capital Management

A people place where employees always are being moved to the top of the list

Second place, alternative managers

Caltius Capital Management LP puts its newest employee through a special initiation: He or she is charged with planning the entertainment for the firm's annual overnight retreat to Las Vegas.

“We have an age-diverse workforce and it's fun to see what our younger employees come up with to entertain their colleagues,” said James B. Upchurch, president and CEO of the Los Angeles-based private equity/mezzanine debt manager.

The 19-member Caltius crew is close-knit. The company orders in lunch every day and everyone who's in the office on a given day eats together, sharing conversation on diverse subjects ranging from politics, concerts, movies, sports to whatever else is on employees' minds.

“It's a water-cooler kind of lunch every day,” Mr. Upchurch said about this first-time winner in Pensions & Investments' annual Best Places to Work in Money Management survey.

The Caltius culture seems to be addictive: Average employee tenure is 10 years. Mr. Upchurch and all of his four founding partners remain at the firm after 19 years.

“People don't leave Caltius except under unique circumstances,” Mr. Upchurch said.

One person stressed in the employee survey that “the people are the best part of my job — it has a family vibe with great personalities.”

Other employees accentuated the work flexibility that permits them to deal with family issues or personal passions.

One staffer was granted a three-month leave of absence in 2015 to complete the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage through Spain to the shrine of the apostle St. James the Great in northwestern Spain.

The firm's culture “melds well with that of many of the companies we make investments in. They say they find us fun to deal with, fair, reasonable and sincere,” Mr. Upchurch said.

“This organization provides the best work/life balance in the financial industry,” avowed a Caltiusean, adding the firm “provides an opportunity to be challenged, but within an atmosphere that is fun.”

This article originally appeared in the December 12, 2016 print issue as, "Caltius Capital Management".