March 31, 2021
Humbled and honored. These are the words I keep coming back to as I have accepted the post of Chief Executive Officer at Bailard. Peter Hill, CEO from 2008 through this spring, has dedicated 36 years of his life (and counting) to Bailard and its stakeholders. The pursuit of excellence embodies his career, particularly the pursuit of excellence without cutting corners. Throughout his leadership, Peter devoted his time to take us to the next level through his steady guidance. All with a great deal of patience, and always doing the right thing.
Early achievements in Peter’s tenure include building out Bailard’s institutional client base with our asset allocation consulting business, something that was quite novel and not pursued by many in the industry. Soon after, Peter transitioned into the role of Chief Investment Officer where he steadily grew the team, always trying to hire the best.
A passionate believer in active management, he built a tremendous investment management team, one that could serve clients across many different asset areas. And when Tom Bailard began to think about his retirement and succession, Peter was appointed as the Firm’s first non-Founder CEO in 2008. This turned out to be no easy task. A few short months in, we faced the worst financial crisis that since the Great Depression, putting our clients and the Firm under tremendous stress. Having a steady hand and guiding the company through that crisis was no small feat.
As the waters were beginning to calm after Peter started his role as CEO, we also began the search for liquidity for the company’s largest shareholder. Maintaining our independence has been near and dear to us as a Firm, and Peter faced this question with a fresh perspective. And after a dalliance with an investment banker, and other forms of capital, he reaffirmed the belief that the best way to honor Tom and to continue to build Bailard was to remain independent. And so started the out-of-the-box thinking, something that is innately “Peter”! Having solved one of the most important issues for us as a Firm and managed through one of the biggest financial crises in recent memory, Peter turned his attention to the future.
Inspired by his nephew who won a Gold medal at the 2012 Olympic Games in London, Peter came back enthused. “Let’s have our own ‘Olympic’ plan.” The beauty of it? You can’t change the date! You set a goal and you work towards it, day by day, one foot in front of the other. Because you’re taking the entire company on this journey, you measure your progress and you regularly report your results, good or bad. In the words of our CIO Eric Leve, “Peter’s greatest gift is his vision. He takes an inspired, long view of the landscape and strives for big goals.” The Olympic plan was this vision in action.
An “Olympic”-sized plan meant Olympic-sized goals. And thus we endeavored to double assets under management and revenues within a four-year time frame. It was courageous, and it required everyone to pull on the same rope, to believe in the same dream. “Are you on the bus or not?” he asked at an all-company meeting once. And he meant it.
From guiding Bailard through the 2008 financial crisis and fostering our independence to setting ambitious goals and spearheading the launch of the Bailard Foundation, Peter has consistently been a steady, determined leader. Our EVP of Real Estate, Preston Sargent, notes how Peter was able to lead Bailard through so many years of change, saying his “thoughtful, calm, and reassuring leadership style was ideal to guide the Firm.”
Among these accomplishments is one that is less defined, but still impactful. Shifting a Firm’s focus without changing its core culture is not an easy task, but one Peter managed without fail. Our Vice Chairman, Burnie Sparks, summarizes it well, noting Peter was, “instrumental in some of the Firm’s most dynamic growth in its history. That growth was no accident. It was led and nurtured.” To me, that has been one of his greatest achievements.
Bailard was built on tremendous openness and transparency. Our stated values are accountability, courage, compassion, fairness, excellence and independence, each one as important as the next. Never losing sight of these values but with an eye to making the company even better for our clients, our employees, and our shareholders was Peter’s goal. One that he has very humbly achieved, taking little credit along the way, but making the Firm stronger and more competitive today than when he took over.