Milwaukee-based Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc. has promoted Steve Booth to chief executive officer of the global financial services firm, effective Jan. 1.
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The move is part of an ongoing succession plan at the company, which it laid out in January 2013
, when Booth was promoted to chief operating officer. He was named president in 2014.
Through the transition plan, Booth has gradually succeeded Paul Purcell with his guidance, becoming the eighth CEO of the firm since it was founded in 1919. Purcell will continue to serve as chairman, and plans to be active in advising top leaders and continuing his community involvement. He continues to chair the Notre Dame Mendoza School of Business Advisory Council, co-chair Teach for America in Milwaukee, co-chair United Performing Arts Fund’s 2016 campaign, and serve on the boards of Alverno College, UPAF, Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, The Cristo Ray Network and Junior Achievement in Chicago.
"Under Paul's leadership, we've focused on best serving our clients in an ever-changing, very competitive landscape," Booth said. "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."
Both Purcell and Booth were hired in 1994. Purcell was named president in 1998, CEO in 2000 and chairman in 2006. Under Purcell’s leadership, Baird underwent a global expansion and returned to its status as an independent, employee-owned company with a buyback from Northwestern Mutual in 2004.
Since 2006, Booth has served as director of Investment Banking and co-head of its Equity Capital Markets business. He previously led the firm’s Investment Banking Industrials Group and its Global M&A Business. Prior to joining Baird, Booth worked in corporate finance at Kidder, Peabody & Co. in Chicago. He holds a Master of Management degree from Northwestern University, a BBA in finance and a BA in economics from Southern Methodist University.
"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," Booth said. "I'm both humbled and honored to follow in the footsteps of Baird's iconic leaders, in particular Paul Purcell and Fred Kasten, whom I consider my most important role models."
"I've had the pleasure of being a mentor, friend and business partner with Steve for more than 25 years," Purcell said. "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."
Baird, which provides wealth management, capital markets, private equity and asset management services, has 3,100 employee and more than $145 billion in client assets. It achieved a record $1.2 billion in 2014 revenue
, and is ranked No. 5 on the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For list.