December 14, 2015




Fourth Place

William Blair 

Giving employees a feeling of partnership and collaboration

$73.9 billion AUM

At William Blair, a sense of collaboration and partnership is at the forefront of how the firm operates


The firm was founded more than 80 years ago and is 100% owned by current employees, which creates “a sense of pride in the partnership and private ownership,” noted one employee responding to Pensions & Investments’ Best Places to Work in Money management survey. That structure, “allows for the firm’s success to follow our clients’ success,” noted another.


Michelle Seitz, head of investment management at Chicago-based William Blair, said management’s role in maintaining that spirit of collaboration is “not about the ‘big idea;’ it’s about the little things you do to make peoples’ lives better so that we can be better partners with our clients.”


CEO John Ettelson said the firm looks for four main attributes in new hires — people who are smart, driven, collegial and entrepreneurial.

Callie Lipkin

IN THE KNOW: Michelle Seitz greets employees at William Blair’s annual midyear review outlook event, where leaders discuss the firm’s immediate future as well as what workers can expect to see down the road.

“Most companies look for two or three of those qualities, but we look for all four; people
who are self-starters and who can contribute to our client’s success,” Mr. Ettelson said.


The collegial nature has produced relatively low turnover at the firm, a three-time Best
Places to Work winner. Mr. Ettelson estimated the average industry tenure of portfolio managers at the firm is about 28 years, with more than 15 of those years at William Blair.


“It’s amazing what people can do when everybody is on the same page,” said one employee, responding to the survey. “Everyone here is like family,” another wrote.


That sense of family is reflected in a new award established to honor the memory of an
employee who, Ms. Seitz and Mr. Ettelson said, embodied those qualities.

DOWN AND DIRTY: Executives of William Blair got some mud on their shoes and maybe even a blister or two when they broke ground in 2015 for the firm’s new Chicago headquarters.


Results are based on a two-part process comprised of employee surveys and an employer questionnaire. “William Blair” refers to William Blair Investment Management, LLC. William Blair is a registered trademark of William Blair & Company, L.L.C.

Reprinted with permission from Pensions & Investments. © 2015 Crain Communications Inc. All rights reserved.
Further duplication without permission is prohibited. Click here to read more about Pensions & Investments
2015 Best Places to Work in Money Management.