Wealth management firm Bailard Inc. turned 50 years old this year, and to celebrate it decided to do something a little different—like, start its own foundation. Located in Foster City in California’s Silicon Valley, the firm was founded in 1969 by three graduates of Stanford University’s business school and today has about $3.6 billion in assets under management from its roughly 750 client relationships covering institutional and wealth management accounts.

One of the firm’s calling cards is the diversified, proprietary investment portfolios it creates for its clients. “Since the early 1990s we got serious about doing our own investments and building our investment teams, which is why we have a large number of employees [68 total],” says Peter Hill, Bailard’s CEO. “We’re a hands-on manager and like to do things ourselves.”

Which partially explains why the firm started the Bailard Foundation, which began operating this summer and is still in the formative stage. Hill said the foundation came about from a confluence of factors, such as the firm’s values-based philosophy and the sizable number of its employees who volunteer their time and contribute to different things in the community. Plus, Hill says, the addition of an SRI/ESG investment team that came over from Wells Fargo about three years ago (and which manages roughly $700 million in assets) “got us to think about these things more.”

“And our 50th anniversary was coming up, so we wanted to do something special,” he added. “All of these ideas came together, and it seemed like a wonderful idea to start a foundation. It took a long time for this to come together because we weren’t exactly sure how to do this. We’ve always given money with regular charitable gifts, but we wanted to do something different.”

Things began to crystallize when the firm started working with Philanthropic Ventures Foundation, a nonprofit organization in Oakland that Hill says seeks out specific impact investing opportunities. “They brought some ideas to the table,” he notes.

Kim Aquino, senior vice president at Bailard and a member of the foundation’s board of directors, says the Bailard Foundation has identified five focus areas: affordable housing, homelessness, financial literacy, sponsorship of an impact-oriented prize and international impact initiatives.

Aquino highlighted two of the investments—Trinity Center in Walnut Creek and the St. Francis Center in East Palo Alto—which both deal with affordable housing and homeless issues in the Bay Area.

And through Philanthropic Ventures Foundation, the Bailard Foundation teamed up with Community Legal Services in East Palo Alto, a nonprofit offering legal services to low-income families, to create a fund where attorneys have discretion to give grants to clients on the verge of losing their home.

The fund, Aquino says, helps people maintain shelter while going through difficult periods in their lives. “We’ve contributed to other causes, but these three groups speak to core values we’re trying to tackle.”

The Bailard Foundation’s coffers remain modest. “We don’t have something like a $10 million donation to start it off,” Hill says. “We expect this to be around for many years, and we hope it becomes much larger.”

First « 1 2 » Next