Life at Balentine: 2017-18 in Review
Chairman Robert Balentine often reminds us that we spend more time with our colleagues than we do with our families; that’s why, at Balentine, we try to balance working hard for our clients with having fun together. Whether it’s an entertaining event for the whole family, a spontaneous cocktail hour, or celebrating important milestones and life events, we like to have a good time with one another both during and after office hours. We also enjoy learning together—whether during a monthly Lunch and Learn or helping teammates prepare for certification exams—and recognizing fellow employees for outstanding work. Another part of that fun—at least for us!—is engaging with our peers at various industry events; we enjoy staying on the forefront of industry trends and contributing to the broader dialogue.
Thought Leadership and Industry Recognition
From investments and asset allocation to media sensationalism, Balentine employees are thought leaders in a variety of subject matters and have been featured in a number of publications over the past year:
- CEO Adrian Cronje, Ph.D., CFA and Director of Institutional Relationships Darlene van Nostrand, CFA explained the benefits of a global asset allocation (GAA) strategy in their article, “Don’t Let ‘Buy and Hold’ Leave You in the Cold,” featured in the Georgia Association of Public Pension Trustee’s fall newsletter.
- Director of Manager Selection and Implementation Ben Webb, CFA participated in a roundtable interview with Foundation and Endowment Report about the use of alternative credit in portfolios. He also caught up with Citywire in a fun Q&A, touching on everything from the best and worst meetings he’s ever attended to his dream family vacation.
- Partner and Senior Relationship Manager Bradley Martin, a former CNBC producer, shared his insights about media sensationalism with the Atlanta Business Chronicle.
- Director of Research Gabe Lembeck, CFA discussed paradigm shifts in investing with the Georgia Association of Public Pension Trustees in its spring newsletter.
- Adrian Cronje moderated a panel about international trade for the Rotary Club of Atlanta. The panel, covered by the Atlanta Business Chronicle, featured consulates from Canada, the UK, and Japan.
Adrian frequently shares his insights on the economy and the potential implications for entrepreneurs and their businesses. Over the last year he has addressed more than a dozen audiences at events across the southeast, including the inaugural Atlanta Leadership Conference, the 2018 CEO Strategy Summit, both the Southern Capital Conference and the Southern Capital Forum, along with various Vistage groups and economic summits. Balentine also partnered with EY in Raleigh to host a special luncheon addressing tax reform’s impact on family businesses; Adrian was one of the featured speakers.
Adrian isn’t the only Balentine team member who has been on the speaking circuit! Other employees spoke about an assortment of topics over the last 12 months:
- President Brittain Prigge served on a panel entitled “Leading Organizational Change” at Barron’s Top Independent Advisors Summit.
- Robert Balentine led a roundtable discussion, “Creating an Award-Winning Culture,” at Barron’s Top Independent Advisors Summit.
- Ben Webb shared his economic forecast at the Atlanta Society of Finance and Investment Professional’s (ASFIP) Market Insights 2018 event, during which he addressed topics ranging from cryptocurrencies to tax reform. He also participated in a panel entitled, “The Growing Influence of Family Office and Private Capital Funding,” at the annual Southern Capital Conference.
- Investment Analyst Drew Traylor spoke to the City Club of Buckhead’s Young Executive Society about the intricacies of the blockchain and the origins of cryptocurrencies.
- Chief Financial Officer David Damiani, CFA moderated a CFO Leadership Council Breakfast Program panel entitled, “Aligning on Healthcare: Engagement, Cost and the Future.”
- Relationship Manager John Maddison, CFA, CFP® chaired CFA Society North Carolina’s inaugural FinTech conference, “Leveraging Technology for the Future of Finance.” Attendees explored technological innovation and the disruption debate within the financial services industry.
Balentine is also grateful to have received many industry recognitions over the past year:
- Robert Balentine was named one of the country’s “Top 100 Independent Financial Advisors” by Barron’s. He was once again the highest-ranked independent advisor in Atlanta and the Southeast and one of the top 25 nationwide.
- Balentine placed third among firms with 20 to 49 employees in Pensions & Investments’ 2017 “Best Places to Work in Money Management” awards. We had the chance to speak with Pensions & Investments and share what we think makes Balentine a best place to work, such as our monthly Lunch & Learn seminars.
- Barron’s once again named Robert Balentine one of Georgia’s Top Financial Advisors. This was his fourth consecutive recognition as Georgia’s top independent advisor; he was ranked fourth overall.
Growing and Learning
While we wouldn’t necessarily categorize studying for difficult exams as “fun,” learning is an essential part of our culture. Several Balentine employees achieved milestone certifications in 2017-18. Gabe Lembeck passed Level III of the grueling Chartered Financial Analyst certification process, becoming Balentine’s newest CFA® Charterholder. Associate Relationship Manager James Yost became our newest CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ professional, contributing to our increased emphasis on wealth planning. Additionally, Director of Human Capital Clare Easterlin became a Certified Professional with the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM), the world’s largest HR professional society.
Balentine recognizes that we must continuously add new talent to keep our client-to-advisor ratio low while providing the customized, high-touch service that our clients have come to expect and upon which we pride ourselves. To ensure that we continue to meet this high standard, we promoted several existing staff members and hired for newly created positions. Balentine partners welcomed Senior Relationship Manager Bradley Martin as their newest partner in January. Bradley leads a team of advisors on the Relationship Management team and has been a key contributor to the firm’s success since his arrival in 2014. Most recently, as reported in the Atlanta Business Chronicle, founding partners Adrian Cronje and Brittain Prigge were promoted to CEO and president, respectively.
In addition, our Relationship Management team added Reid Hinshelwood as a relationship manager and promoted James Yost, CFP®, CAIA to associate relationship manager, Mike Binnicker, CFP® to relationship manager, and Julia Zwicky to relationship associate. Our Raleigh team also added new positions to support the explosive growth we have seen in that market. Over the last several months we welcomed Sarah Stark as an administrative associate and Matt Raines as an associate relationship manager.
Following the promotions of Emily Barbour, Gabe Lembeck, Ina Toderita, and Ben Webb to directors, Balentine created a “Director Group” in January. This group is designed to serve as a conduit between management and staff and to help implement the management team’s vision and strategy. Additionally, Clare Easterlin became Balentine’s first director of human capital, emphasizing the firm’s continued focus on growing and training our most important resource, our employees.
Personal Updates & Office Bonding
Not only did Balentine increase our staff count, but we also welcomed new members to the larger Balentine family! Melanie and Bradley Martin welcomed their third child, Camillo “Cam” Bradley Martin, on January 5th. Kennedy Chambers Binnicker arrived soon after, on January 19th, joining parents Jaime and Mike Binnicker, and big brother James (2). Additionally, Marketing Associate Katie Mock married Tim McClanahan, her partner of 11 years, in their hometown of Raleigh last October.
Balentine employees have fun together both in and out of the office! Some of our most memorable firm-wide events over the past year include our NCAA March Madness bracket competition; an escape from the summer heat at a family pool party hosted by Office Manager Alexa Svensson; our Balentine Boos! Halloween party; and our annual employee holiday party, which featured a visit from jolly ol’ Robert Claus himself!
The Balentine team came out in force to support Administrative and Training Associate Christina Callesis, who performed a number of traditional dances at the Atlanta Greek Festival. Employees enjoyed the solar eclipse from our Buckhead rooftop. Robert, Adrian, and their families had a great time at the Rotary Club of Atlanta’s annual Rotarian Daughter Day. Balentinians Darlene van Nostrand and Brittain Prigge participated in the Savage Race alongside Darlene’s husband, Rick, and Rob Ragsdale completed his 25th marathon! Throughout the year, Balentine employees also took much-deserved vacations to a variety of international destinations, including Jerusalem, Italy, London, France, Croatia, and the Caribbean.
Why Culture Matters
In both work and play, Balentine strives for excellence, embraces community, and values diversity. We know that a key element in keeping our clients happy is attracting, growing, and retaining the best possible talent. In an industry that overwhelmingly skews male and has more advisors over the age of 75 than under the age of 35, we are different. Today, nearly 60% of employees and more than 70% of directors are female—all under the leadership of Balentine’s first female president, Brittain Prigge. With the promotion of Adrian Cronje to CEO, we have ensured longevity and stability to lead our clients through the next generation, with Robert Balentine ably leading at the helm.
We believe that this diversity gives us an advantage and, ultimately, benefits our clients. Balentine’s leadership believes that a happy and engaged workforce is able to better serve our clients. Staying involved in the community gives us greater purpose, emphasizing education ensures we remain at the forefront of our industry, and time spent bonding in and out of the office creates an environment of collaboration and teamwork to better meet our clients’ needs.