In an April 23 story in Ignites, Mary Ellen Stanek, Chief Investment Officer with Baird Advisors, and Jay Schwister, Senior Portfolio Manager, discussed strategies their team uses to engage and retain millennial workers.


Baird’s flat structure naturally helps with retention, according to Chief Investment Officer Mary Ellen Stanek. The lack of hierarchy means the firm’s senior executives work side by side with younger employees, giving recent hires a more meaningful experience and allowing them to see more job functions.

Many millennial employees are hired out of Baird’s internship program, which assigns senior talent to act as mentors, coaching and encouraging younger workers.

"We constantly get feedback from new hires and interns that they were surprised with the level of access and involvement of the most senior people," says senior portfolio manager Jay Schwister.

Baird also encourages employees to migrate through different areas of practice. For example, one Baird staffer who started as a business analyst is now on the firm’s risk team. Another employee moved from an operations specialist role to the municipal bond team after taking on project work for the team, Stanek says.

"We try to encourage people that it’s a big tent, there’s a lot of needs and a lot of potential, and let’s find that match for people individually in terms of what their strengths are," Stanek says.

Despite the increased interest in job-hopping, Rickart says employees should proceed with caution before leaping to a new shop.

Hiring is a very subjective process; Robert Half’s report also found that CFOs of smaller firms were less favorable toward candidates with a history of frequent moves than CFOs of larger companies. But hiring managers are generally going to question the stability of a candidate who’s looking to move on if their résumé already shows two positions within four or six years, he says.

Baird sees résumés with multiple short tenures as a yellow flag, but not necessarily a red one, Schwister and Stanek say.

"We want to make sure that we’re looking for talent that is committed to coming and investing in their careers with us," Stanek says. "We’re looking for that fit with the long-term interests of our investors."

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