Employees at quant shop Bridgeway Capital Management laud the firm's “mission-driven culture” and its commitment to making the world a better place.
Through its Bridgeway Foundation, the firm donates half of its profits to non-profit organizations. The foundation's mission is “to work toward the prevention of oppression, genocide and human rights violations.”
“It is somewhat unique,” said founder and CEO John Montgomery. “There aren't too many investment firms that talk about peacemaking.”
Mr. Montgomery founded Bridgeway in Houston in 1993 with hopes of becoming a generous, giving company.
Employees praise a good work-life balance, generous paid time off, telecommuting, fully paid 12-week maternity leaves and anniversary sabbaticals as top benefits.
Mr. Montgomery said he used his most recent sabbatical to travel to Sudan with the foundation's CEO Shannon Davis to be an election monitor.
The company also pays half the cost for employees and their families to take one-week international service trips. The only stipulation is that they have to share their experiences with everyone else at the firm when they come back.
There is a 7-to-1 compensation ratio between the highest- and lowest-paid employee at Bridgeway (the firms calls them partners). “We don't see anything wrong with seven-figure salaries, but you won't do that at Bridgeway. But if you're serious about making a difference, you should seriously consider looking at us,” Mr. Montgomery said.
He said the firm operates by four core business values: integrity, performance, cost efficiency and client service. Its geographic proximity to Enron Corp. played a role in focusing on integrity as its No. 1 value.
“We studied the heck out of it,” he said, referring to Enron's collapse, “trying to figure out how and where they got off track.”
Before the financial crisis, “there were no titles or organization chart — it was a circular organization,” said President Mike Mulcahy. “But after the crisis, we needed to formalize the structure and partners' roles and responsibilities.”
Concern over how that change would affect the firm's culture — “What happened to the soul of Bridgeway?” asked a board member, at one meeting — led to the adoption of the concept of servant leadership, the philosophy that one is called first to serve the needs of others and can lead from there.
Bridgeway applies this principle in dealing with clients, employees and the community. This “is how we communicate, how we solve problems,” Mr. Mulcahy said. “And it transfers outside of the office. I hear stories all the time how it is applied in people's everyday lives away from work.”
Mr. Mulcahy said of the staff, “It's a remarkable set of people and we're all going to grow old together by building an enduring firm.”
Employees agree. One wrote in the Best Places to Work in Money management survey that “we're all in this together and we all play a significant role in the success of Bridgeway.” Another said “everyone cares about each other,” while yet another noted “we are truly a family.”