Baird CEO Paul Purcell on the Role of a Strong Culture in Creating a Great Place to Work

MILWAUKEE, March 10, 2011

Baird, an employee-owned, international financial services firm, ranked No. 14 on FORTUNE magazine’s 2011 100 Best Companies to Work For® , a highly regarded annual ranking of top U.S. companies based on employee feedback and workplace attributes.

According to FORTUNE, what makes Baird so great is: “Employees of the investment adviser praise the integrity that prevails here. ‘I have worked with a number of firms,’ says one manager, ‘and Baird [has] the most hard-working, honest, ethical people in our business.’” 

Baird CEO Paul Purcell offered the following comments on the firm’s culture and its role in creating a great place to work:

Seven Key Reasons Why a Strong Culture is a Strategic Advantage

  1. Integrity means having a corporate culture that puts clients’ interests first. In 1919, Robert W. Baird, the first President of our firm, created a workplace culture based on honesty, integrity and respect for our clients and for our fellow associates. More than 90 years later, those values are the foundation of our strong corporate culture, which has proven to be a key strategic advantage for us over our competitors. We aren’t creating a winning culture, we are maintaining and strengthening it.
  2. Creating and nurturing a strong culture is not just about human resources policies and programs — it is a strategic business priority. Our firm weathered the recent economic downturn because we didn’t take undue risk. We did what was right for our clients, and we always acted with integrity. We helped our clients through the downturn. They put their trust in us, and our partnerships with clients are stronger than ever.
  3. Talented people will seek out firms with strong cultures. We believe our culture is the No. 1 reason why talented professionals come to Baird and why they stay. During the recent economic downturn, we hired many talented professionals who were attracted by Baird’s culture, business model and financial strength. In fact, our employment has climbed 15 percent since December 2007. Our growth, which continues today, has included new offices on both coasts and more than 150 senior-level professionals who joined Baird from other firms. Although we carefully watch expenses, we strategically invest in the business on an ongoing basis to best serve the needs of our clients. We viewed this as an important long-term opportunity we couldn’t pass up. It enabled us to expand our reach and the breadth and depth of our services – with talented professionals who share our values.
  4. Employee ownership aligns our interests with our clients. Nearly half of Baird’s associates are shareholders in our firm. We put our own money at risk every day. We protect it and we make business investments with a long-term perspective. When our clients succeed, we succeed.
  5. Hire nice, smart people. People are sometimes surprised by our “No-Jerks Rule,” but it really matters because we believe the best outcomes are the result of teamwork. We strive to only hire people who treat others well, and who value honesty, integrity and client service. We want people who are respectful of their fellow associates and our clients. These are the people we want to work with, and these are the people who will build long-term relationships with our clients.
  6. Develop a formal strategy for preserving and strengthening your corporate culture. Last year we created a new executive-level position, Director of Culture & Integration, and filled it with a Baird veteran who focuses 100 percent of her time on making sure all associates understand the importance of culture to our success and how each of us plays a role in maintaining and strengthening it. One of her first assignments was to gather candid opinions from associates through interviews and focus groups. This reaffirmed that both new and long-time associates believe our culture is special and unique. Our associates value people who are humble, trustworthy, honest, timely, direct and smart. They respect one another and value teamwork. And, universally, our associates agree that here, clients really do come first. We want to preserve that.
  7. Turnover matters and the numbers do not lie. Have we made hiring mistakes? Have we lost people to other firms? Yes. But Baird’s turnover is 7 percent today, which is lower than most firms in our industry. Our senior leadership team has an average of more than 18 years with Baird. Talented people come here and stay here. The bottom line is Baird’s strong culture contributes significantly to our efforts to fulfill our mission, which is to provide the best financial advice and service to our clients and be the best place to work for our associates. We will continue to uphold and invest in that culture to set the standard of how we do business and to make sure all of our associates are valued.

About Baird
Baird is an employee-owned, international wealth management, capital markets, private equity and asset management firm with offices in the United States, Europe and Asia. Established in 1919, Baird has more than 2,600 associates serving the needs of individual, corporate, institutional and municipal clients. Baird oversees and manages client assets of nearly $82 billion. Baird’s principal operating subsidiaries are Robert W. Baird & Co. in the United States and Robert W. Baird Group Ltd. in Europe. Baird also has an operating subsidiary in Asia supporting Baird’s private equity operations. For more information, please visit Baird’s Web site at 

For additional information contact:
Marianne Foster
Baird Public Relations