It is pretty clear from the name that quantitative equity manager Los Angeles Capital Management and Equity Research Inc. is located in the Southern California metropolis, but founding member Tom Stevens' Midwestern sensibilities also shape the culture of the firm.
Hard work is expected of employees, but a friendly atmosphere is also present as team members attend bowling parties or engage in a beach cleanup in nearby Santa Monica after the workday ends.
“We try to have fun activities and foster a sense of collaboration,” said Mr. Stevens, president, CEO and chairman of Los Angeles Capital Management, a two-time winner in Pensions & Investments' Best Places to Work in Money Management survey.
The firm has grown from nine employees at its founding in 2002 to 70 today, more than a third of whom own a stake in the firm. Allowing employees to become owners has helped foster a positive spirit, but other things — like open communication — also are key, Mr. Stevens said.
As Los Angeles Capital has gotten bigger, Mr. Stevens said it has become important to make sure all employees are informed about firm developments.
To that that end, the company holds quarterly companywide meetings. “We want everyone to feel they are in the loop,” he said. “We don't want people to feel they are being left out. It does a lot to keep everyone on the same team.”
Another way to bring people together is to have employees learn about all aspects of the firm and how their colleagues contribute to its overall success, said Mindy Borghi, human resources manager.
The company holds monthly lunch meetings in which representatives from various areas — from portfolio management to legal to marketing/relationship management — discuss their work. The meetings give employees “a fresh perspective” on Los Angeles Capital Management, Ms. Borghi said.
Los Angeles Capital encourages diversity among its workforce and has a good representation of both women and minorities, she said.
But diversity to Mr. Stevens also means hiring employees from beyond the financial world.
One recent hire had a doctorate in biotech and no financial experience, said Mr. Stevens. But her analytical background has worked well on the portfolio team, he said. “A diversity of backgrounds helps innovation.”
Employees completing the Best Places to Work survey repeatedly mentioned the positive atmosphere as a reason Los Angeles Capital is a good place to be employed.
“The company cares for its employees,” said one. “The pay is great. The work is dynamic. The culture is very flat and senior management is very transparent and supportive of professional development.”
Another worker mentioned “working with genuinely good people, who work as a unit for the overall benefit of the company. Additionally, I am truly grateful that we are not exposed to the stereotypically negative aspects of working in the competitive financial industry. This is a very conducive environment to growth, and employee turnover is very low.”