A collage of images of Baird associates at the new shareholders meeting.

2021 Annual Report

Discover theBaird Difference



A Message From Steve Booth

Values are a centering force in times of both calm and chaos. As the tumult of the global pandemic continued to unfold throughout 2021, Baird held fast to our core values of honesty, integrity, transparency and teamwork while always keeping our clients’ interests first. Each has guided Baird through times of significant change, including our unique journey as a privately held, employee-owned firm.

Being privately held and employee-owned allows us to decide and focus on what matters most: putting our clients first and staying true to our values. It’s why we repurchased our independence after selling a controlling stake in Baird to an outside entity in the early 1980s. We began the process in the mid-1990s, increasing our minority employee-ownership through two incremental transactions and ultimately acquiring ownership of Baird in 2004. This is not only one of the great legacies of my predecessor, Paul Purcell, it is a gift that we intend to never again relinquish because it is so fundamental to maintaining our values – and therefore to achieving our success.

These qualities, which have served Baird so well over our history, enabled us to navigate 2021’s challenges, act on opportunities that emerged and achieve extraordinary outcomes for our clients.

A photo of Baird's CEO, Steve Booth

Business Highlights

2021 was a year of  historically strong results across Baird. Our revenues totaled $3.41 billion, our 12th consecutive record1, while our operating income was $609 million – also a new record for the firm. The firm’s return on book value was 33.4%, including cash dividends paid to shareholders during the year and supported by continued cost savings from managing non-compensation expenses through the pandemic environment. These results also enabled us to do several special things, including granting a special one-time bonus to eligible associates, including long-term interns, and expanding our profit-sharing contributions. To ensure our communities also benefited from Baird’s 2021 results, we also deepened our investment in Baird Foundation’s charitable gift matching programs and other charitable initiatives across Baird.

The firm benefited from favorable market conditions across all of the markets we serve in 2021. This environment, combined with the best-in-class support of our Corporate Resource Groups, enabled each of our five complementary businesses to exceed our own and our clients’ expectations. A handful of business results and developments include:

  • Private Wealth Management posted a particularly strong finish to the year and now manages more than $275 billion in assets for its clients.
  • We saw exceptional growth in assets under management across our Asset Management teams. Additionally, assets in the Baird Funds exceeded $100 billion for the first time.
  • Our Equity Capital Markets teams achieved $1 billion in revenue for the first time. Global Investment Banking more than tripled its revenues and completed more than 400 financing and advisory transactions.
  • Fixed Income Capital Markets recorded its second-best year ever and continued to invest in building its team and capabilities.
  • Principal Investments saw robust results across its platform and generated record investment gains for its investors.

Baird managed or oversaw more than $415 billion in client assets at the end of 2021 – an increase of 375% over the past decade.


Our stock value has increased 221% over the past 10 years.2

1 Financial results do not reflect the consolidation of certain private equity partnerships.

2 Baird stock performance is based on the change in book value per share for Baird Financial Group common stock and includes cumulative cash dividends per share of $0.53, $0.55, $0.62, $0.67, $2.50, $0.70, $0.83, $1.83 and $2.50 paid in 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2019, 2020 and 2021, respectively. Baird is privately held and no public market exists for its shares. Baird can repurchase shares of Baird stock at book value when associates leave the firm. Past performance does not guarantee future results.

Committed to Progress

At Baird, we believe that when people of different backgrounds, perspectives and experiences come together, there’s no limit to what they can accomplish. That belief is core to our commitment to inclusion & diversity for our clients, associates and communities. We recognize that inclusion & diversity can and does enhance the way we serve our clients – but for that to be possible, Baird must be an exceptional workplace for all. We maintained our focus on being a great place to work for each of our associates in 2021.

To that end, we were humbled to be recognized among the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® in 2022, ranking No. 27 in our 19th consecutive year on the list.

We deepened our long-time commitment to inclusion & diversity through a wide range of internal and external programs and initiatives throughout 2021. Our Associate Resource Groups continued to play an essential role in guiding our inclusion & diversity efforts. We also launched our Bridge Builders program, a unique reverse mentoring program that connects our associates of color with our Executive Committee for discussion and relationship building. We also worked to develop rising talent via our internship program. In 2021, it included approximately 200 talented students, more than 60% of whom were diverse by gender or ethnicity.  

We also continued our long tradition of community involvement and supporting organizations devoted to making the world a better place for all. In May, we announced the inaugural recipients of the Paul Purcell “Kids Win!” Annual Baird Education Grant, which we established in honor of our former Chairman, President & CEO, who was a passionate supporter of education. Thanks to cornerstone gifts from Baird, Baird Foundation, our business units and many of our associates, we have raised more than $13 million to help ensure kids continue to win. In 2021, we made inaugural grants totaling $700,000 to seven nonprofits located across Baird’s footprint.

From Fortune ©2022 Fortune Media IP Limited. All rights reserved. Used under license. Fortune and Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For are registered trademarks of Fortune Media IP Limited and are used under license. Fortune and Fortune Media IP Limited are not affiliated with, and do not endorse products or services of, Baird.

From Fortune ©2021 Fortune Media IP Limited. All rights reserved. Used under license. Fortune and Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For are registered trademarks of Fortune Media IP Limited and are used under license. Fortune and Fortune Media IP Limited are not affiliated with, and do not endorse products or services of, Baird.

Defining Our Future

As we reflect on the impact of the global pandemic and what the future may hold, we recognize some old approaches will no longer do. Change is a constant in our industry and our world – and thus Baird is evolving in kind. We made further, substantial investments in our technology in 2021 to support the firm’s continued growth and drive even more effective collaboration across our teams. Additionally, we are empowering each of our business units, Corporate Resource Groups and office locations to find more effective and flexible ways to work while meeting our clients’ evolving needs in ever-changing and complex market conditions. Our goal is balance in personal well-being, client service and productivity for every Baird associate.

Each of our businesses evolved to meet our clients’ needs and support fellow colleagues throughout 2021. In Private Wealth Management, leaders requested feedback from our clients and our associates on how to evolve their relationships for the future. Our Equities business focused on reconnecting with clients in person, when possible and appropriate, to strengthen partnerships. Global Investment Banking optimized its business development and execution processes as the M&A markets surged to record levels. Asset Management and Baird Capital remained committed to keeping their teams united to maximize collaboration, deliver strong investment performance and provide exceptional service to clients. Meanwhile, Fixed Income Capital Markets added nearly 50 associates to its team in the pandemic environment to further strengthen its business platform. Finally, we rebranded Hilliard Lyons Trust Company to Baird Trust. Headquartered in Louisville, Kentucky, the business provides comprehensive trust services and investment management for clients in more than 40 states.

Being privately held and employee-owned enables us to set our focus, without other influences. It’s a choice we make every day – and we choose to focus on our clients in all we do. We’re planning for Baird’s future with them in focus. To that end, I’m very pleased to share that we entered into an agreement in January 2022 to welcome Hefren-Tillotson, a Pittsburgh-based wealth management firm, to the Baird family. Like Baird, Hefren-Tillotson is a privately held firm with a strong, clients-first culture and business model. It is truly special to find a partner who shares your values and is exceptionally good at what they do. We believe we’ve found that in Hefren-Tillotson.

It is a true privilege to lead the more than 4,700 associates who make Baird great. Our independence allows us to work together to decide what matters most and set the direction for Baird’s future. It’s one of my favorite qualities that embodies the Baird Difference – and we look forward to living that out in 2022 and beyond.

All my best,

Steven G. Booth

Steve Booth
Chairman & CEO