Cleveland Business Connects

For immediate release (October 6, 2017) Media Contact: Judy Abelman Email: Phone: 440.725.8861...

By Patricia Faulhaber  |  Photo by Jim Baron

Christine Benner knew at a young age that she wanted to work with numbers. Instead of playing with dolls, she played with her mother’s bank statements and old checks. She set up an office in her parent’s basement and used one of those older calculators with tape to run the numbers on bank statements.

Benner was always good with math. Her goal when entering college was to become a math teacher. It didn’t take long for her to switch her major to finance and accounting.

Today Benner is a financial advisor with Robert Baird & Co. in the Cleveland office on Public Square. One of the reasons the company caught Benner’s attention was because of the work it does helping women with financial and wealth management.

Benner worked her way through college at UPS. She spent time working as an accounting assistant for a healthcare company. From there she went into 401K consulting and helping large businesses administer their retirement planning. She began to realize she wanted a different career path, one in which she could help individuals with their financial planning.

“The sudden death of a close family member who had only been married a short two weeks really opened my eyes to how short life is; the love of my family at that moment made me take the next step to financial advising so I could channel that empathy and passion to help others,” Benner says.

Benner was introduced to a Baird advisor in the Columbus office. Talks led to her meeting the manager of the Baird Cleveland branch.

“I later interviewed with the firm in Cleveland and knew it was a company I wanted to work with. The team environment and being employee owned really attracted me. I wanted a firm that had the same family values as I have,” Benner says.

It was imperative for Benner to work with a firm that puts families and clients first. Baird is an employee-owned, international financial services firm with more than $130 billion in client assets. Services include providing wealth management, capital markets, asset management, and private equity services through offices located throughout the United States, Europe, and Asia.

Baird lists its mission as providing the best financial advice and service to its clients and striving to be the best place to work for its associates. The company’s culture is to put clients first by providing quality services based on integrity. The company stresses a balance between work, life, and community involvement for its associates. Benner is part of the BCJC Private Wealth Management Group.

“There is a great camaraderie in our office. The associates share their experience and expertise to do the best job for the client. The company also has a strong focus on our female clients and our female associates,” Benner says.

As a professional woman who personally experienced a divorce and other life-changing events, Benner has a passion for helping women become more informed, engaged, and present in their finances, which can turn today’s challenging times for women into opportunities.

Baird puts an emphasis on empowering women and their female advisors. They developed the Women’s Advisory Council with that mission in mind. The Baird Women’s Advisory council hosts an event annually called The Baird Women’s Advisory Summit. National guest speakers attend to help advisors by educating them on financial and wealth management planning for their clients. The event also works as a forum for advisors to learn from each other’s expertise in their careers.

“There is a strong need for more successful female advisors, and our advisory council encourages the growth of a culture that enhances our ability to attract and retain women financial advisors” Benner says.

Benner has worked with women who feel they have not had a voice in their finances. She says female advisors have a greater empathy when working with women who have had challenges such as divorce or losing their spouses. Benner feels the advisors in the firm engage and educate clients and make something that can be complex into something much simpler and easier to understand.

Benner moved from Toledo (where she grew up) to Lakewood in January 2014. She says the people of Cleveland are proud of their city. Getting involved with the community through organizations such as the Cleveland Rotary has made her feel welcome and has been a way for her to get to know and appreciate the area.

Benner is looking forward to a long future working with Baird. She hopes her expertise, experiences, talent, and passion for her work help her make a positive difference for her clients.

“We do a better job for our clients when they are comfortable. Our clients become like family. It’s a blessing to be able to work with a firm and team that supports making a difference,” Benner says.

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