April 19, 2010

How Baird Keeps Hiring Wirehouse Advisors

Denise Wypiszenski, COO of Baird Private Wealth Management, explains the advantages wirehouse and other advisors find in joining the broker-dealer, which now includes 670 advisor associates..

How are you attracting FAs from the wirehouses to Baird?

We have a great story to tell and a great record of success. We've performed extremely well in the worst environment in a long time.

We've gotten people's attention, and it's really one of the main reasons why we had record recruitment in 2009.

We've been very careful to manage the business. We're passionate about protecting the reputation of the franchise. It's a very powerful model, especially in times like last year. That's what differentiates us from many of our competitors.

What makes Baird stand out from other broker-dealers?

We are careful in how we manage the business, because about half of the associates own a piece of the company, which is privately held. This is taken into account in every decision that's made. And that sets us up to have a very dynamic partnership with the associates. Again, this is powerful and differentiates us from many competitors on the Street that are publicly traded.

How does Baird recruit?

We do not use external recruiters. It's an internal effort handled by our 60 branch managers and four regional directors.

How did recruiting go in '09 and how is it going this year?

We recruited just over 100 advisors in 2009; the majority were from the wirehouses.

In 2010, we're off to a great start, having hired 24 people from the competition thus far. And, once again, these associates are coming mainly from the wirehouses.

Do you see any big change in the marketplace this year or in Baird's recruiting strategy?

Advisors are still in pretty much the same frame of mind that they were in during 2009.

In 2010, we are not necessarily looking to change anything in terms of recruitment. We are continuing to quality hires. This has really been a focus for Baird: people that are a good fit for our culture.

Going back to the industry turmoil and the fact that many of our competitors participated in that turmoil, we - in contrast - have been very careful about managing our business and protecting our reputation. Because of that and due to the fact that we are privately held, the majority of our employees have direct ownership. Plus, we are very conservative in our approach to running the business.

We have a culture that's very committed to making Baird a great place to work.

And many advisors have an interest in looking at that type of organization, with a focus on a much more conservative approach. And many advisors are looking for a smaller firm to be part of that culture.

Advisors looking to join Baird are required to meet with many people beyond the branch managers, such as associates in senior management. This helps us see if they are of the quality that we are looking for.

We want people who are successful, have a proven track record in the industry and are a good fit for the personality of the firm. We have focused on hiring experienced recruits vs. new trainees, though we do hire some new trainees each year.

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