A culture of caring and integrity has enabled Balentine LLC, Atlanta, to thrive since its creation five years ago.
“Culture is the glue that holds us together, said Robert Balentine, chairman and CEO. “Culture is how your employees describe you to their neighbors” at a barbeque.
Balentine's culture encourages its 26 employees to give back to the community, through volunteer projects throughout the year. They include a youth workshop with L.E.A.D. (an Atlanta organization that works with at-risk youth) at Turner Field, home of the Atlanta Braves; wrapping gifts at a children's hospital, volunteering at a community garden and a pajama drive for needy families.
Jo Walthall, director of communications, said the firm has donated money and time valued at more than $1 million to charities since its inception.
Balentine also uses its expertise to help not-for-profits more directly. David Damiani, chief financial officer, said the firm has a “lower fee schedule for not-for-profit clients” because Balentine officials are committed to giving charities fee breaks.
Employees mentioned the family-like atmosphere at Balentine. One employee's comment on why Balentine is a great place to work summed it up: “A genuine respect and sense of personal caring I feel from all employees toward all employees. It's something else.”
Mr. Balentine said the “money management industry is a trust industry” and “if you lose that trust, you have no business.” To that end, company officials have always been honest and transparent with clients and employees.
Mr. Balentine highlighted a small example of walking-the-walk involving printer toner. The firm was getting free toner by mistake for more than half a year. A Balentine official notified the technology vendor, and said the company needed to submit bills for the missed periods.
Mr. Damiani said the firm discloses all direct and indirect fees to clients, which is not universally done in the industry.
Incentive compensation at Balentine is tied to the firm's overall financial success. A quarterly meeting with all employees reviews the firm's financials so folks know “exactly where they are,” Mr. Damiani said.
Numerous employees commented on the flexibility and work-life balance at the firm, including flexible work hours and the ability to work remotely. Mr. Damiani said employees now start with 20 days of paid time off a year, starting from day one.
Balentine, with $1.5 billion in assets under management, is now 100% employee owned with the repurchase in April of a minority stake held by Rosemont Investment Partners LLC.