To its employees, Dana Investment Advisors Inc. is more than a firm. Dana is a family.
“Mike Dana (the firm's founder) impressed upon me two things when hiring: character and integrity. You have to hire people that you enjoy working with,” said CEO Mark Mirsberger.
Employees agree, and their satisfaction has kept Brookfield, Wis.-based Dana on Pensions & Investments' list of Best Places to Work in Money Management for four consecutive years. One employee response to P&I"s survey said: “The firm management has made it their priority to hand-pick the best individuals with most pleasant attitudes and great work ethics. It is hard to find such a winning combination for your "other family.'”
An entrepreneurial mindset at the 100% employee-owned firm means colleagues go the extra mile at the office to support their extended family, as Duane Roberts, director of equities and portfolio manager, found while raising twin boys. “When they were younger, I was the drop-off parent and I always had the flexibility. People are always jumping in to cover,” he said.
The staff's commitment to Dana and to each other has led to impressive employee retention rates. Excluding 13 employees hired during the past five years of expansion, the average length of service among Dana's 42 employees is 15 years.
“I've spent 20 years at Dana and the culture hasn't changed,” said Joseph Veranth, chief investment officer and portfolio manager.
The staff's long tenure is a competitive business advantage in Mr. Mirsberger's view. “You can quantify the benefits. I know our clients really appreciate the longevity of dealing with the same contacts. It translates to better service and better experience over time,” he said.
The management team has made retention a priority even during difficult market cycles. Following the 2008 market downturn, “we maintained full employment and we did make a (profit-sharing) match,” Mr. Roberts said.
To Robert Leuty, a senior vice president and portfolio manager, family is the firm's bottom line: “In any family situation, you're going to ask family members for their opinion. And that's a driving force in this organization.”
This family focus also drives Dana's charitable initiatives. Mr. Mirsberger recalls a poignant firm “lunch and learn” about organ donation following one employee's struggle with a child's liver transplant. “Three-quarters of the room was in tears. Employees remembered,” he said.