Our Profile

Baird is built upon shared values of honesty, integrity, genuine concern for clients and respect for associates. These values drew us to Baird and remain central to our ability to earn the quality client partnerships and maintain the high standards that are Baird traditions.

Learn more about the client-focused service for which Baird is so well-known. Contact us  today to explore a partnership with Baird.

Gene Jester

Director, CFP®, CPWA®, CRPS®

(919) 918-2900

I heard someone say once that “taking the time to listen is an act of love.”  I strongly believe that she is correct because everyone who comes to us for advice and guidance has a unique story and if we did not take the time to listen, we would never discover his or her story.  So, in the simple act of listening we begin our journey together and determine the direction we are to take.

The foundation for my work as a Wealth Advisor was formed long before I entered the Financial Services industry. Its construction began while I was in Divinity School and during my first career as a parish minister.  There I learned the importance of approaching my work with imagination.  In that setting I learned how to build an organization from a dream and how to keep the dream alive by always remaining true to that dream. When after 18 years I began my current career, I transferred my dream to my new vocational setting.  While some thought it an unlikely path to take, my two career paths have actually had much in common.  At their core each has been dedicated to serving others and helping them become good stewards of their talents and their resources. At this stage in my career the high correlation between my two “callings” is clearer than ever.  In both arenas there would have been little opportunity for success if trust, integrity, empathy, love of people, and the ability to communicate had not been the defining qualities of each.

Since forming our practice over 30 years ago, I have set high expectations for every team member to continually aspire to the highest level of competence and certification within our field.  Our clients are constantly presenting us with new situations that stretch our thinking and our imaginations.

This means that ordinary entry standards in our business are not sufficient for the level of service and advice that we want to offer our clients. Each of us--Emma, Tracie, Cort, David,  and I— understands the importance of always getting better at what we do.  So, we are always students. 

My own road to growth has included advanced rigorous studies leading to the following designations: Certified Financial Planner (CFP®), Chartered Retirement Plans SpecialistSM (CRPS®),  Certified Private Wealth Advisor® (CPWA®).

Jeannie and I have four children between us, and six grandchildren—3 girls and 3 boys. While 5 of them are here in North Carolina, the youngest is in California so travel to the West Coast is an important part of our lives.  We love the mountains and spend as much time as we can with our family there. 

Our neighbors sometimes have the impression that we run a Pet Rescue agency because abandoned dogs and cats seem to show up often at our door, and they are always welcome.  Our little dog Sandy has had to learn to share our attention. We now have one cat and another little dog and all 3 are over 12 years old. 

We live in a 105 year old Victorian house near Chapel Hill surrounded by wondrous flowers and trees that Jeannie’s green thumb keeps beautiful.

Cort Bennett

Financial Advisor, CFP®, CPWA®, CSRIC 

(919) 918-2900

Early in his career, during a Leadership Winston-Salem course, Cort was introduced to the concept of the servant-leader and what it means. He realized that serving first has always been part of his nature.

The client relationship is very important to Cort.  We all have our own story and view of money. Cort enjoys learning about our clients, their interests and wishes and then helping them fulfill their and their family’s goals. His listening skills and genuine interest in understanding them, enable him to help bring to life their financial goals and legacy desires.  His approach to each relationship is the same as with his own family—thoughtful, detailed, and consistent.

With an undergrad degree in psychology from Wake Forest, Cort discovered his passion for helping others during the first few years of his career with Wachovia Bank’s Wealth Management Group.

Cort returned to Wake Forest where he earned his Master of Business Administration, and then joined RSM McGladrey as Director of Investment Services, overseeing the wealth management group’s $3.5 billion investment platform.

After starting their family, Cort and his wife Lindsey moved to Greensboro to be closer to family. Cort worked with a regional trust company as a Portfolio Manager, providing investment advice to families with unique trust and estate planning situations. Yearning to be back in her hometown of Chapel Hill, Lindsey and Cort began their final move. Cort joined The Jester Group at Morgan Stanley in December 2015.  Cort completed the Certified Financial Planner Professional Education Program in 2016, and holds the distinguished professional designation of CERTIFIED FINANCIAL PLANNER™ Practitioner.

Having grown up in North Carolina, Cort and Lindsey are grateful to be able to raise their daughter Janie close to their families. They’ve been known to refer to their rescue dog Paisley as their first child. Much of the family’s free time is spent together and usually outside, hiking the North Carolina mountains, where Cort enjoys fly fishing whenever he can.

David Jester

Financial Advisor, CPWA®, CSRIC™

(919) 918-2925 


First and foremost, I am a husband and a father. These are my most important roles in life and they bring depth and meaning to my work here beyond measure. My family loves to spend time together—much of it outside. To keep myself balanced and connected I am a devoted trail-runner, burgeoning mountain-biker, avid reader & writer, and a committed board member of The Haw River Assembly

Before coming to Baird, I taught English Literature in public school classrooms in Charlotte, New York City, and Chapel Hill. As a teacher, I learned to think proactively, listen deeply, cultivate lasting relationships, maintain trust, and work towards a common goal with my colleagues, students and their parents. I have found that all of these skills are vitally important to my work with our clients.

In all aspects of my life I work hard to be a clear communicator who responds with care and attention to the needs of others. As a member of The Jester Group team I strive to always keep integrity, honesty and the client's best interest at the heart of every decision we make and action we embark on together.

I am interested in listening to our client’s stories and helping them to build bridges from their present to their future. It is my goal to always provide an engaging, meaningful and rewarding experience for our clients while working together to artfully craft the next chapter in the story of their money and their legacy.

Tracie Legg

Senior Client Specialist

“I love to say that I have grown up with our clients. Gene Jester, Wealth Advisor, and I began our team over 20 years ago on September 6, 1996, the same day that Hurricane Fran blew inland and brought all kinds of destruction.  While power was out all around us and fallen trees blocked the roads, we worked all weekend getting accounts ready to transfer from Gene’s former firm.”

Devoted to providing the very best service, Tracie’s joy comes from ensuring that all our clients feel welcomed and at home.  Her relationship with our clients, as well as her role in the growth and development of the team are vital to the ongoing success of our practice. 

After graduating from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, Tracie came back to her hometown of Durham to look for an elementary school teaching position, a role that requires discipline, empathy, patience and gentle leadership.  All are her natural gifts.  While waiting for the right job, she accepted a temporary receptionist position with an investment firm. Good friends there told Gene about her; they met, and that was the beginning of our team.

Over the years, Tracie advanced easily from Assistant to Financial Advisor, Planning Specialist, and Branch Operations Manager, all while part of our team.  This broad experience and her versatility have given her the confidence to take the lead in much of what we do.

In addition to her Bachelor of Elementary Education from UNC at Wilmington, Tracie has earned these professional registrations, licenses & designations: Series 7, 9, 10, 31, 63 and 65 Life, Health, Variable Annuity and Long Term Care licenses Financial Planning Specialist.

While she loves her work, Tracie loves her family more.  She and Jamie, Dean of Admissions at Methodist University in Fayetteville, have two children—Magen and Jay. Magen is an accomplished dancer, and Jay is an avid lacrosse player. Captain Jack, their tiny Havanese, is the other important family member and often the center of attention. With all of the grandparents living close by, there is no shortage of great family gatherings.

Tracie serves as a volunteer for lacrosse, dance, Hope Communiity Church, and Meg's Smile Foundation.

All of this means that the whole family is constantly on the go, and so in Tracie’s words, “Life is never boring.”  But whenever their schedules allow, she loves to take the family back to Wilmington.  Since her college days, Tracie has been a “beach girl,” and her favorite vacations are on the water.

Shelby Hall

Client Assistant

To me, the foundation of any meaningful relationship begins with listening, investing time, being consistent, responding with love, and genuinely caring about others. Providing the very best experience for our clients with thoughtful and honest communication will always be my top priority. I love working hard, staying busy, learning new skills, and above all, creating a delightful experience for others. My passion to help others runs deep within my roots and is what ultimately brings me joy.

Beyond my work, my life is very much centered on family and the togetherness that brings. Growing up with horses helped create my love for the outdoors and participating in literally anything outside. This includes riding horses with my mom, working on projects with my dad, playing Ultimate Frisbee with my sister, hiking, camping, and sports -all of which are close to my heart and have had a huge impact on my life.

Before joining The Jester Group, I was a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) through the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). My career path took me on many adventures including traveling throughout the Caribbean and in parts of Central and South America as a Personal Fitness Coach and Crew Member aboard motor yachts. I loved being able to use my skills as a trainer while crewing luxury yachts. As a trainer, I focused on helping others transform their quality of life through exercise by empowering them with the proper support, guidance, and resources to inspire their journey to a healthier lifestyle. I am excited to bring these skills to my new role with The Jester Group.

I hold a Bachelor’s of Science degree with a concentration in Exercise Science from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (Go Seahawks!). While a student, I was also a scholarship athlete competing as a member of the Women’s Track & Field team. During my senior year, I won silver at the CAA Conference Championship. I am currently the second all around heptathlete to ever compete for UNCW. The experiences I had as an athlete were invaluable and helped mold me into who I am today. Setting goals, having the self-disciple to carry out those goals, always striving for the highest level of achievement possible, and doing anything in your power to support your team carries me through life. Without these grounding morals, I would not have had the opportunities that led me to my new work family and I am extremely grateful. #GOTEAM!