To boost the size of its advisor force and its business, Baird is expanding training programs and encouraging client associates, especially women, to become advisors. It’s also tweaking conferences, including those held for its female employees and its female advisors, both of which just wrapped up this week in Milwaukee.
“Client associates attended the Women at Baird event,” which drew about 450 female employees, said Kimberly Thekan, who heads up talent acquisition and integration for the company’s wealth management unit, in an interview.
Later in the week, about 50 of Baird’s roughly 75 female financial advisors, and three women in its Foundations Program attended Baird’s Women Advisors event. “The Foundations Program aims to help bring people into the business who want to be advisors, and there’s a big focus on diversity and networking,” Thekan explained.
Baird, which has some 715 advisors, started its Foundations Program last year to encourage associates to become advisor trainees or to pursue other careers in wealth management. The company aims to have 10 employees in the program next year. This year it has six, three of whom are women.
Its advisor training program, which includes about 30 trainees per year, targets employees who have five years of sales experience and want to become advisors. Kim Haws Falasco, a Baird branch manager in Akron, Ohio, attended this week’s event, along with her client associate, who will enter the training program in the spring.
“Our practice is a team of five women,” said Haws Falasco, who moved to Baird from Smith Barney in 1997. “We cater to suddenly single women, who are divorced and widowed.”
The advisor said she was glad to hear speeches by Paralympic skier, executive and author Bonnie St. John and participate in discussions about best practices, as well. “It’s good to talk about our businesses, why we are doing what we do, what’s working, what’s not working and what we can do about that,” she said.
Also attending the Women at Baird event was CFO Steve Booth, who will take over the role of CEO and president from Paul Purcell early next year. “This was the fifth year of the events, which have been held annually to support senior leadership’s focus on doing everything possible to support women and their business growth at Baird,” said Thekan.
The company plans to separate the two female-focused events going forward, hold them in months other than November and explore venues outside Milwaukee.