Creating and Maintaining a ''Best Place to Work'' Reputation: Baird Chairman, President & CEO Paul Purcell Discusses Attracting And Retaining Top Talent

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Robert W. Baird & Co. (Baird) Chairman, President & CEO Paul Purcell has spent more than 35 years in the fast paced financial services industry, and has seen people come and go at all levels. Identifying ways to find and keep talented people, according to Purcell, is one way Baird builds a competitive advantage. Purcell took a few moments to discuss why he is committed to making Baird a great place to work.

    Q. Your firm has received recognition both locally and nationally as a best place to work, including being named to the FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work for(R) list for four consecutive years. How important are these awards?

A. Since many of these recognitions are based on results of surveys completed by our associates, they are very important. They show that our associates enjoy where they work, and what they do. When you have talented people that take pride in their work, you're able to provide clients with the best service and advice. These recognitions also help us to attract and retain the best people.

Q. Has it affected your firm's recruitment efforts?

A. Yes. We receive about 75 job applicants for every job opening at Baird. In addition, traffic to our Careers page Web site climbed nearly 70% following our first FORTUNE recognition in 2004, and it has stayed at this high level. More importantly, that increased traffic has translated into more applications from highly qualified candidates.

Q. How important is compensation in the best employer equation?

A. Compensation is only one piece of the employee/employer relationship. In addition to competitive compensation, companies also need to have a strong workplace culture. At Baird, our high-integrity, client-oriented culture is the foundation of every decision and sets the standard for how associates conduct business and how they relate to clients and to one another. Many associates at Baird mention our culture as one of the key reasons they come to and stay at Baird. Through our in-house training center, Baird University, and our robust tuition reimbursement program, we also provide opportunities for associates to develop their skills, so that they can be their best, both personally and professionally.

Q. The financial services industry typically has a high rate of turnover. What is Baird's turnover rate, and how does it affect your business?

A. Baird's turnover rate is low compared to other firms in our industry. In 2006, our turnover was 10% compared to the 13% average for financial services firms. Additionally, the average length of service for Baird associates is nearly eight years. Last year, our firm completed an extensive branding effort. One of the lessons we learned is that our success with clients is strongly influenced by "how" we work with them. Our research found that our people make the difference everyday for our clients. So keeping our talent is important and the long tenure of our associates enables us to build long-term, deep relationships with our clients.

Q. What are some of the ways Baird differentiates itself as an employer?

A. The key thing that differentiates Baird is our great culture. I came to Baird because of the culture - very client driven, high integrity - and the quality of the people. There just aren't many investment banking environments like that around. We are also an employee owned firm, which truly makes a difference. Nearly half of all Baird associates own Baird stock.

We also are committed to helping associates balance their personal and professional lives. For the past two years, FORTUNE has recognized Baird as one of the top 10 companies on the 100 Best list where employees feel encouraged to balance their work and personal life. And, our associates do take advantage of the flexibility we offer. More than 26% of our non-commissioned work force has a formalized flexible work arrangement, and there are many other associates at Baird who have informally arranged some form of flexible work schedule with their managers. In addition, Baird's more than 550 commissioned Financial Advisors, by virtue of their role, have an informal work schedule.

Another differentiator is the value we place on community. Through our Baird Cares program each associate receives an extra paid day off each year to volunteer for a nonprofit organization of his or her choice. We also expanded our charitable matching program, offering support to every Baird associate and the organizations they most want to help.

Q. What is the pay-back to Baird for being a great place to work?

A. It enables us to attract talented candidates and I believe associates stay at Baird because they love to work here. With the best people in the industry, we are able to provide our clients with the best service and advice, which is the key to our success.

Q. What are some of the challenges your firm faces as an employer?

A. One of our biggest opportunities is attracting diverse individuals to our firm so that we can best meet the needs of our clients. One of our senior leaders, Mary Ellen Stanek, chairs our firm's Diversity Steering Committee. This group is charged with identifying ways to recruit and retain a broader, more diverse workforce to Baird. The Committee also brought together 20 Baird associates to form a Business Diversity Council. Members of the council serve as champions for enhancing diversity at the firm and are charged with providing insight, direction and feedback to help focus Baird's diversity efforts. We've set goals and are making real progress in this area.

About Paul Purcell

Paul E. Purcell is Chairman, President & Chief Executive Officer of Baird Holding Company, Baird Financial Corporation and Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated. Paul Purcell joined Baird in 1994 and served in a variety of capacities, including Chief Operating Officer, before becoming President & Chief Executive Officer in 2000. He also became Chairman in 2006. Paul Purcell is a member of the Baird Financial Corporation board of directors and Robert W. Baird & Co. board of directors. Prior to joining Baird, he spent 22 years with Kidder, Peabody & Co., where he was a Managing Director and head of the Midwest Investment Banking Group. He received an MBA from the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business (1971) and is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame (1969).

In addition to his duties at Baird, Paul Purcell serves on the Alverno College board of trustees, Chairman Cristo Rey Jesuit High School board of directors, Vice Chairman and member of the board of directors of Securities Industry and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA), University of Chicago Graduate School of Business Advisory Council, University of Notre Dame Mendoza School of Business Advisory Council, board of directors of RC2 Corporation and the Greater Milwaukee Committee board and executive committee.

About Baird

Baird is an employee-owned, international wealth management, capital markets, private equity and asset management firm with offices in the United States, Europe and Asia. Established in 1919, Baird has nearly 2,200 associates serving the needs of individual, corporate, institutional and municipal clients. Baird oversees and manages client assets of nearly $74 billion. Committed to being a great place to work, Baird was recognized as one of the FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work For(R) in 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007. Baird's principal operating subsidiaries are Robert W. Baird & Co. in the United States and Robert W. Baird Group Ltd. in Europe. Baird also has an operating subsidiary in Asia supporting Baird's private equity operations. For more information, please visit Baird's Web site at

Keywords: Paul E. Purcell, President, Chief Executive Officer, Baird Holding Company, Baird Financial Corporation, Robert W. Baird & Co. Incorporated, FORTUNE 100 Best Companies to Work for(R), attracting top employee, recruitment, retention, best employer reputation, competitive compensation, professional development, employee benefits, work life balance, flexible work schedule, community involvement, charitable matching program, diverse workforce, diversity, employee owned, international wealth management, capital markets, private equity, asset management, United States, Europe, Asia

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