#1: Balasa Dinverno Foltz LLC, Itasca

  • Chad Carlson

    Chad Carlson

Updated 9/24/2020 11:29 AM

Itasca-based Balasa Dinverno Foltz LLC is a financial services company that manages more than $4.5 billion in assets for business owners, women, individuals, families, and institutions. The company provides employees with monthly social events, a winter holiday week closure, summer hours and additional four weeks sabbatical every five years.

In addition, they are a company that recognizes their staff often by sharing thoughtful notes written to each other when "caught" demonstrating core values and displaying them on the "WOW Board."


Corporate culture is at its finest ... that's why they're #1 in the category of small businesses.

President & Co-CIO Chad Carlson talks more about the company:

Q: What makes working at your company so special?

A: There are many things, but the most important is our culture and we don't take it for granted. It's a major focus in our hiring process. Because we are so intentional about it, our team is amazing! Each person is genuine and authentic, and they truly care about one another on a personal and professional level. This translates seamlessly to how we serve our clients.

Our Core Values are foundational to our culture. Every day we think about how we can be Humble. Humility is all about being a team player and putting BDF first. We are Hungry in our passion to serve our clients and do our best work. We're Smart with how we ask questions and listen to others -- we understand how our actions affect others. And, we Always Do the Right Thing -- not because we want recognition but because we just know it's the right thing to do.

Q: What are one or two things your company does to promote employee engagement?

A: Engagement begins with open and ongoing communication, being transparent and giving the team feedback. This is at all levels of the organization. We ask for input, listen to our team and act on their ideas. We have an open-door policy. Communication also happens in the form of weekly huddles, monthly one-to-one's, and both mid- and year-end reviews. Recognition and accolades are shared on a continuous basis via a ThankYou@BDF.com email; posting a WOW form on the WOW Board in the BDF Bistro (now done virtually as we work remote); or a Team Award, which includes a shared shout-out of recent actions/behaviors during our Monthly Team Meeting.

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Additionally, we believe in treating others how they want to be treated ~ not how you want to be treated. We work to understand how and what the other person wants and needs and give it to them their way.

Q: Do you have a workplace philosophy?

A: We have several philosophies that are foundational to our culture. One of them that stands out is having a Growth Mindset. We encourage our team members to never stop learning, and we understand that making mistakes is a learning opportunity. We have to fail to innovate, so it's OK to try something and fail. We often learn more through the failure than if we easily achieve something.

Another component of growth is the team's personal and professional growth. If they have drive and determination, or hunger, they can and will progress in their career. We have an identifiable career progression that allows for individual growth based on someone's goals and skill set, which also enhances and permeates growth within and for BDF.

Q: How does that translate into your success?

A: Ours is a relationship business. Our number one goal is to attract and retain top talent so we can continue to serve our mission of helping our clients live a full life. We must have a vibrant and growing business keep people at our firm in a competitive landscape. Hiring awesome people, training them, giving them opportunity for growth and creating a culture where people want to stay -- that's how it translates into success for the firm. We feel it's important to set our team up to succeed, and their success is our success.


Q: How is being named the No. 1 Best Place to Work in Illinois help your company?

A: We are grateful and humbled to be recognized with this honor. Our priority is thanking our team for telling their story and sharing their feelings. A huge shout out and thank you to the BDF Team!

Ultimately, if our team feels this way about BDF, we know in the long run, it 100% benefits our firm and clients the most. Happy employees lead to happy clients. We don't mind the recognition either from a recruitment perspective. That is the benefit to know that your team likes working there. Great advertising.

Q: What lessons have you learned from dealing with the pandemic?

A: Take nothing for granted. Have empathy for what others are going through, as a client, peer, or leader within BDF. Maintain balance and self-care -- scheduling it if needed. It makes us each a better person. More importantly, a growth mindset still exists remotely. We found different ways to communicate, work with each other, and take care of our client's needs. There have been changes. Correction ~ ENHANCEMENTS. All for the betterment of the team, our clients and our firm.

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