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 recently 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®

(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, CSRIC 

(919) 918-2925 

David is a clear communicator who responds with care and attention to the needs of the group’s clients. He believes that gratitude and compassion should be key ingredients in the investment process. He has a deep love and appreciation for people and our natural world and is committed to helping clients align their investments with their values by serving as a guide through options for SRI (Sustainable and Responsible Investing), ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance), and Impact investing. 

He is focused working with multi-generation families in the areas of financial planning, wealth protection, charitable giving, wealth transfer, and growing wealth.  He is firmly committed to strengthening the depth of relationships we enjoy with our clients from generation to generation. 

Before joining the team, David taught English in public school classrooms for 14 years. This work took him into environments as varied as rural high schools in South Carolina and working with inner-city students in Bushwick, Brooklyn. During this time he focused on strengthening his abilities to think proactively, listen with intention, develop lasting relationships, maintain trust, work with people from many different backgrounds, and dig deep to find lasting solutions to problems.  David blends these talents with The Jester Group at Baird.

Outside of work, David loves being with his family. He and his wife, Heather, spend most of their time corralling their two boys, Charlie and River while exposing them to as much of this big beautiful planet as possible. Over the course of their 17 years of marriage they have lived in Charlotte, NC; Villa San Secondo, Italy; Brooklyn, New York; Asheville, NC; and now in Northern Chatham County. David also enjoys trail-running, mountain-biking, canoeing, meditating, reading and writing and is a board member for The Haw River Assembly, an organization dedicated to protecting the Haw River Watershed.

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.

Emma Jackson

Senior Client Specialist

“I love finding solutions for our clients and taking on the challenges they bring to me.”

Since Emma joined our team in 2007, clients have come to depend upon her resourcefulness and efficiency in establishing a relationship with the team, as our point person for handling the full transition cycle for new clients, as well as major life changes for existing clients such as retirement rollovers. Emma’s multi-tasking talents are constantly on call, as she balances the demands of providing day-to-day operational services for our clients’ investment portfolios and retirement accounts, with expertise in tax reporting issues, cash management, and providing specialist assistance and resolution on any other questions our clients bring to her.

Emma has earned these professional registrations and licenses: Series 7 and 66; Life & Health Insurance; and Variable Annuity licenses

Emma lives in Raleigh with her "fur baby" Fifi, a Shih Tzu.  Together they raise funds every year to support the SPCA of Wake County, a no-kill animal shelter devoted to finding a home for every homeless pet.  She is a self-confessed foodie who loves experimenting in the kitchen, and maintains a sense of balance in life by hiking, enjoying nature and wildlife, practicing yoga, and being an avid reader.  Emma and her partner, Jeff enjoy traveling at every opportunity to all far flung corners of the globe and of course regular visits back to England to enjoy time with her family.