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, CSRIC

(919) 918-2925 

Money tells a story. For most of us, this is a story that stays hidden. Sometimes this is because of grief or sadness, a sense of privacy, or even shame. For many of us, it is simply because we don’t have time to listen. Consequently, we become overly focused on the utility of currency. We engage in any number of mindless activities with it—invisibly contributing to our 401ks, sliding our card at the grocery store while carrying on a conversation with a cashier (not even thinking about what we’ve bought or how much we’ve spent), automatically paying a bill for the water coming into our homes without realizing we’ve done it. More and more we have lost touch with the money that is such a large part of our lives.

I see my charge in this profession as simply helping people to slow down and listen. So, what story is your money telling? What story has it told? What does money mean to you and your family? What would be the best use of it? How will you go about revising your own story of money?

Only when we become aware of our current relationship with money can we begin to more artfully craft the story of our money’s present and future.

Most often, when clients come to our team it is because something has changed. Perhaps they have an advisor already, but something isn’t working. Other times they have received a gift—the product of the generosity and hard work of a relative. Still at other times, new relationships come to us in a time of loss, an unexpected transition, or even a new job, a new baby, or on the cusp of a new sense of freedom found in a well-earned retirement. Regardless, our team keeps a sense of gratitude and compassion at the center of our conversations. We see our primary responsibility as shepherding our clients through these transitions to help them become good stewards of their resources--further revising, refining, and more clearly articulating the story that they bring to us.  

Our team is made up of lifelong learners. I am no exception. For instance, I may be the only advisor you have encountered with an M.F.A. (Master of Fine Arts).  As a team, we encourage an atmosphere of curiosity among one another. We relish in dialogues that push us into new discoveries and reflections on our practice. To this end, I recently earned my Chartered SRI Counselor (CSRIC) designation. This designation enables me to focus on further mitigating portfolio risk while aligning a client's investments with their values through Sustainable, Responsible, and Impact Investing (SRI). In 2021, I will begin working on a designation my father says has been more instrumental to him than any of the others he has earned, the Certified Private Wealth Advisor (CPWA) designation. Most of all, I am excited to deepen my understanding of the theory that is behind so much of the practical work we do each day. Of course, I also hold the standard FINRA licenses for my role as a Financial Advisor, passing exams and completing regularly continuing education for the Series 77 and Series 66 securities licenses. I am also a licensed insurance agent. I am grateful to be a part of a team and a firm, Baird, that encourages and supports our growth and development to better serve our clients.  

Before coming to Baird, I taught English in public school classrooms. This work took me all over, from rural high schools in South Carolina to the streets of inner-city Brooklyn. As a teacher, I learned to think proactively, listen deeply, cultivate relationships, maintain trust, and work towards a common goal with students, colleagues, and parents from many different backgrounds. And while, like my father, this is not a traditional path—I believe I could not do this job, in this way, without what I learned as a teacher.

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. With my wife, Heather, and our two boys, Charlie and River, we are trying to enjoy and experience as much of this big, beautiful planet as possible. Over the course of our 18 years of marriage, Heather and I have lived in Charlotte, NC; Villa San Secondo, Italy; Brooklyn, New York; Pittsboro, NC, Asheville, NC; and now in Chatham County, NC. 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

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. At work, I always keep integrity and the client's best interest at the heart of every decision we make together.

Now, I would love to hear your story and talk about whether or not our team can help you. From my experience, I have learned that those who make it beyond our initial conversation and decide to be our clients stay because they believe we offer something different from what they have experienced in the past. They are looking for a human being who integrates their heart and mind with their work. And they come to us (whether they know it or not) seeking answers to the questions above. It is my goal, to always provide that unique experience for our clients while we work together to artfully craft the story of their money.

Please reach out, if you’d like to begin the conversation.

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