Employee-owned Baird, which has about 700 advisors, says its client assets have topped $100 billion for the first time.
“$100 billion in assets is a big milestone for us,” said Matt Curley (left), national sales director of private wealth management, in an interview. “Plus, we are approaching $1 billion in total revenue and should eclipse that in 2013. We continue to hit records. Our business is strong and speaks to the trust and confidence clients place in us.”
(About $81 billion of Baird's client assets are associated with its private-wealth management operations, with the rest tied to its capital markets, private equity and asset management work.)
Baird posted revenues of $961 million in 2012. Also, for the first quarter of 2013, Baird recorded its 133rd consecutive quarter of operating profit. The privately held firm was founded in Milwaukee more than 90 years ago. Last week, it celebrated Baird Cares Week, its annual philanthropy drive.
Baird has “hired a good number of advisors this year,” according to Curley. “We’ve also had some advisors retire, like at some other firms, and our headcount is stable."
To further add to its advisor headcount, Baird is turning to young adults.
“In 2013, we are definitely shifting up and are calling it a [year of] youth movement,” he explained. “Most college students don’t think of wealth management as well-known career option, so we are partnering with universities and business schools and even providing scholarships to get out a grassroots effort on campuses.”
From 2008 to 2012, Baird recruited 415 advisors. About 300 of the reps were experienced advisors, close to 40 were branch managers and the remainder were trainees.
Last year, it brought in close to 20 trainees. This year, the aim is for at least 30 and perhaps as many as 35.
“We have two classes for trainees in the spring and fall,” Curley said. “We look at very talented folks with financial or other industry backgrounds, who can be a good cultural fit.”
The training process takes about three months, plus time for licensing, if needed.
In terms of veteran advisors, Baird would like to attract 50 to 60 in 2013 through its branch offices.
“We are looking at 60 or more, which would be a tremendous success. Fifty would be a good success,” noted Curley. “We’re off to a good start, and several advisors are set to join in the next couple of months.”
Recruited reps typically come from regional firms that have been acquired by larger broker-dealers.
“They decide to leave [their original] firm, because that firm left them,” he added. “Others are frustrated with the larger firm … and do not want to go to another big one. So they end up at Baird, in the sweet spot.”
As an employee-owned firm, Baird can offers advisors a stake in the company and the ability to be a part of a firm that has a good degree of flexibility, Curley says. “Our employment is up 22% [since 2008]. That is amazing for the [securities] industry,” he noted, which overall has seen its employment rate drop 4% in the same period.