Robert W. Baird
|Robert W. Baird|
|Born||1 April 1883|
|Died||12 March 1969 (Age 85)|
|Alma mater||Northwestern University|
|Organization||Robert W. Baird & Company|
|Title||Lead Partner, President|
|Spouse(s)||Ora Davenport Baird|
|Awards||McGeoch Distinguished Citizenship Award|
Baird’s father was a professor of Greek literature at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where Baird grew up. He graduated from Northwestern and worked for a time in Chicago’s bond district before settling in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, in 1912 and taking a job in the trust department of what would become the First Wisconsin National Bank.
He was a lead partner of the First Wisconsin Company, a Milwaukee, Wisconsin-based investment firm, when it was founded in 1919. He became the firm’s president in 1922 and remained at the helm when the company separated from the First Wisconsin National Bank in 1934. He was named chairman when the firm joined the New York Stock Exchange in 1948. Following the tradition of companies joining the NYSE, the firm took the name of its lead partner and officially became Robert W. Baird & Co.. He retired from the company in 1960, at age 77, and he died on 12 March 1969, at the age of 85.
Today Baird is an international, employee-owned financial services firm providing wealth management, capital markets, private equity, and asset management services to individuals, corporations, institutional investors, and municipalities. With more than 2,600 employees, Baird has offices in the United States, Europe, and Asia, and is one of the largest privately held, full-service investment firms in the United States. Baird manages and oversees $84 billion in client assets. 
Professional philosophy and achievements
Following the Wall Street Crash of 1929, Robert W. Baird was one of two men selected by the U.S. government to help develop legislation designed to put the securities-investment business on substantially more solid footing. He traveled widely within investment banking circles, sharing and fostering his belief that the whole industry must maintain the highest standards of integrity in dealing with investors and investment banking customers.
A founding member of the NASD (National Association of Securities Dealers) and its third national chairman, Baird was known for his integrity and his steadfast commitment to putting clients’ interests first. He was quoted in a Milwaukee Journal article dated Dec. 18, 1960, as saying: “They (the customers) will forgive you for errors of judgment, but they won’t forgive you for errors of motive.” He is also credited with the credo: “Honesty in our business dealings and integrity in everything we do.”
Charitable involvements and personal life
Baird had a keen interest in community service and gave of his time to numerous charitable and educational causes. He supported cancer research and was a frequent contributor to the United Way. In 1951, he and his wife, Ora, were named as joint recipients of the McGeoch distinguished citizenship award by the Milwaukee League of Women Voters for their activities with youth organizations, higher education, public and private health and welfare, business and government. That year he also received an award of merit as one of Northwestern University’s outstanding alumni. In 1957, he was honored for outstanding citizenship in the field of friendly relations between religious groups by the National Conference of Christians and Jews. He also donated 1,000 acres (4.0 km2) of land in Wisconsin to the Boy Scouts of America for a campsite shortly before his retirement in 1960.