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Best places to work in money management

Aksia

Keeping active is one aspect of Aksia’s strength. Participation in the J.P. Morgan Corporate Challenge focuses on fitness, camaraderie and teamwork.

Fourth place, money managers with 50 to 99 employees

AUA: $56 billion

Employees: 66

Jim Vos, CEO of New York-based Aksia, likes to say that the investment consultant fosters a learning culture.

"In my past career, I saw the challenges created by fiefdoms and rivalries, but we never set out to establish a particular culture," Mr. Vos said. "We encourage lateral movement, finding the outlets here for your own passion."

If recent discussions on its online research board are any indication, cryptocurrency and sovereign debt restructuring may soon be added to the firm's professional expertise, Mr. Vos said.

Employees agree with that assessment.

"Analyst projects are encouraged and implemented once you can show proof of concept, whether it's for internal communications, research methods or client tools," one employee said about the company, a three-time winner in Pensions & Investments' Best Places to Work in Money Management program. "It has made scaling up in size run more smoothly. Efficiencies are constantly considered, tested and put into practice."

The company also is building out its own mentoring skills, taking New York's MS 582 school, a magnet middle school for technology and urban planning, under its wing to sponsor a new chess program and a professional coach.

"The leadership at Aksia is fair, approachable and very thoughtful," said another employee. "I feel that I am challenged and that everyone does their best on a daily basis and I never stop learning."

That learning takes place with one-hour teach-ins and seminars on topics ranging from investing in music royalties to disruption in the auto industry.

But it's not just learning and mentoring at Aksia that drew employee praise.

"Junior employees are given much more responsibility earlier than I have seen at other organizations," said one employee in the BPTW survey. "I can never imagine saying, 'because that's how we've always done things.' "