Kamal Bhatia, the New York-based chief operating officer at Des Moines, Iowa-based Principal Global Investors, with $577.4 billion in AUM as of Sept. 30, described culture as the “operating system” of a company. “You don’t really see it typically but it defines everything you do with your employees, for your clients. And it’s really embedded in everything you do. And you know like any good operating system, it just works seamlessly and wonderfully.”
“Ultimately, in money management it is a business of people. Almost every dollar we manage on behalf of clients is managed by people. We don’t have machines doing it.”
Mr. Bhatia further said that employees at Principal are encouraged to build a peer-to-peer network, noting that last year the firm launched a program focused on global mentoring. Company-provided day care and health facilities also help to support its workforce, he said.
Mark Mirsberger, CEO of Waukesha, Wis.-based Dana Investment Advisors Inc., another 10-year winner, oversees a small firm of 47 workers where “family” is an intentional key element of the culture. “What makes for a good family?” he asked rhetorically during the panel discussion. “People who care about each other. People who encourage each other. People that have each other’s back.” Taking extra care of employees, especially important during the pandemic, allows Dana’s employees to take care of clients, he added.
Paying 100% of employees’ medical, dental, disability and life insurance premiums at the employee-owned firm isn’t cheap, he said, but it is valued by Dana’s workforce.
As a reflection of Dana’s strong culture, he said turnover is non-existent in the 15 years he has served as CEO, save for one retirement. Dana had $7.3 billion in assets under management as of Sept. 30.