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Portfolio > Alternative Investments > Private Equity

Booth Takes Reins at Baird

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Steve Booth is now the CEO of Baird.

The executive has served as president since 2014, a role he will continue to fill. He replaces Paul Purcell in the CEO slot, though Purcell remains chairman of the employee-owned financial-services firm.

According to Milwaukee-based Baird, Booth is the eighth person to lead the firm since its founding in 1919, “a testament to the strong leadership, consistent values and long-term partnerships that have differentiated Baird for more than 95 years.”

Baird operations include wealth management, capital markets, private equity and asset management activities. It has over 3,200 associates and $150 billion in client assets. The wealth group includes about 850 financial advisors in 85 offices in 28 states with roughly $107 billion in client assets.

Both Booth and Purcell joined Baird in 1994. During his time with the firm, Booth has led its investment banking team and served as co-head of the firm’s equity capital markets business.

Purcell became president in 1998, CEO in 2000 and chairman in 2006. Under his leadership, the firm returned to its roots as an employee-owned, independent firm following its buyback from Northwestern Mutual in 2004. It also expanded into markets in Asia and Europe.

“I’ve had the pleasure of being a mentor, friend and business partner with Steve [Booth] for more than 25 years,” said Purcell, in a statement. “For the last several years, we’ve worked side by side to pursue Baird’s most important opportunities and to transition responsibilities. Baird is tremendously well positioned for the future with a fantastic team of leaders and associates. We are in great hands with Steve at the helm.”

Purcell adds that he plans to be “an active chairman” and will stay involved in Baird’s private equity business.

“Under Paul’s leadership, we’ve focused on best serving our clients in an ever-changing, very competitive landscape,” explained Booth, in a press release. “A key part of Paul’s legacy is regaining our independence and again becoming an employee-owned firm. Being privately held and associate-owned is our single most important competitive advantage because it enables us to make long-term decisions and investments to serve our clients and to create a great workplace.” Baird says its growth strategy has included these developments over the past two decades:

  • 1999: Acquisition of London-based Granville, formally establishing Baird’s presence in Europe and expanding its global banking, institutional equity sales and private equity capabilities.
  • 2000: Addition of Baird Advisors, a highly regarded team of fixed income money managers.
  • 2000: Continued expansion of Baird’s fixed income sales and trading and public finance businesses.
  • Ongoing growth and transformation of Baird’s Private Wealth Management business to emphasize holistic wealth management across generations.
  • 2003: Addition of a team in Shanghai to support U.S. and U.K. private equity portfolios, followed by the addition of a growth-equity investment team in 2008.
  • Ongoing growth of Global Investment Banking and Institutional Equities & Research capabilities.
  • 2014: Acquisition of Seattle-based investment firm McAdams Wright Ragen, the single largest investment in Baird’s history.
  • 2015: Definitive agreement to acquire Chautauqua Capital Management, enabling Baird’s equity asset management business to go global for the first time.

The organization expects to post a sixth consecutive year of “record revenues” for 2015. In 2014, its sales were $1.2 billion, up 12% from 2013.

“Baird has been able to achieve sustained success because of our steadfast focus on clients, our employee-owned model, unique culture, tremendous associates and our tradition of strong leadership,” added Booth. “I’m both humbled and honored to follow in the footsteps of Baird’s iconic leaders.”

— Check out 8 Best Financial Companies to Work For: Fortune on ThinkAdvisor.



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