In Their Own Words: Matt Zerhusen
Click on the questions to read the responses in their own words.
- Why were you looking to leave your old firm?
“I would say the biggest reason was that the resources I relied on, and that my clients relied on, were getting taken away. First we would lose our trust officers, then we lost access to advanced planners. Our morning email went from a few pages, then to one page, and then to a link that wouldn't open on a corporate phone. Plus the research became vague and generic, with no analyst to call for more information.
“Meanwhile, every time my previous firm would make headlines for the wrong reasons, or someone on the banking side displayed poor customer service, I would get a bevy of emails from my clients. Having to constantly apologize for others at the firm began to hurt my business and reputation.”
- What about Baird was appealing to you?
“The way Baird does business is so different from the rest of the industry. It’s never a race for the lowest common denominator. The culture here is real, the no-asshole rule is real.
“They do business the way I do in my own practice. I never tell my clients ‘no, we can’t do that’ – I always say ‘let’s see if we can find a solution.’ Baird operates with the same confidence and positive attitude.”
- What was the deciding factor that made you join Baird?
“It was partly their reputation, but also my experience in talking with potential new firms. At one point it came down to Baird and one other company – but the way the other firm talked about themselves, it dawned on me they were making promises they had no interest in keeping just to get me to come over. In talking with people I already knew at Baird and with Baird leadership, I just knew they were being genuine. I told my wife ‘every bone in my body is telling me this is the right fit’ – I’m just glad I listened!”
- How did your transition to Baird go?
“The Transition Team was fantastic. I like to handle things myself, so having them take care of the paperwork was something of a trust exercise, but they were very organized and communicative. They were on the ground with me for four weeks, and then for another two weeks remotely. They handled everything, letting me focus on calling my clients and putting them at ease.
“One thing that surprised me was when I explained to my clients why I was moving and the benefits of Baird, I hardly got any pushback. Instead, the response I got was ‘it’s about time!’”
- What makes Baird truly different in the industry?
“There's a genuineness here that comes from being privately held and employee-owned. Baird is still highly entrepreneurial, and they want you to make money and be successful – but it has to be the right way, by treating clients and colleagues with care and respect. In my previous firm, advisors were always competing against each other, and there was always an atmosphere of mistrust. Here, everyone is counting on you to treat people well. I see that every day.
“Just the other day, someone from IT checked in on me to make sure Zoom downloaded correctly. Are you kidding me? That wouldn’t have happened at my previous firm in a million years.”
- After being at Baird for a little while, have your expectations been met?
“Met and exceeded! I was a little apprehensive about changing firms and what that might mean for my clients, especially after a rough year in the stock market. I've gotten everything out of it I was expecting, and even some things I wasn't. The technology is better than what I was used to. Baird’s portfolio offerings are similar to where I came from but are more cost-effective, allowing me to lower client fees. The separately managed accounts are better vetted, cheaper and frankly not full of junk.
“From every angle, coming to Baird was a big improvement. I only wish I hadn’t waited so long.”
I felt like a number – and if I feel like a number, then my clients feel like a number.
Hear from other advisors who made the switch to Baird.