The CEO’s Perspective

The 2021 Rebound

June 2021 / 2 min 30 sec read
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The year is starting out strong for William Blair. We attribute much of the activity to the economic recovery we are seeing, particularly in developed markets as they re-open from the COVID lockdown.

Economists are estimating economic growth for the U.S. and Europe in the 5-6% range or higher for 2021—more than double the rate following the global financial crisis. The equity markets have responded, up significantly for the first six months of the year. And while inflation and interest rates are rising, company earnings growth remains strong.

The firm also hosted its second, highly successful virtual Growth Stock Conference, now in its 41st year. The Equity Research and Institutional Sales & Trading teams moved the conference to a virtual format in 2020 due to COVID. The transition has resulted in bigger, more diverse audiences. For the second straight year, we hosted a record crowd of over 2,000 clients to hear executives from nearly 300 growth companies.

Among the topics discussed was the implication of President Biden’s American Jobs Plan (AJP) with its infrastructure and green-tech focus on long-term growth and ESG investing in general.

John Ettelson
John Ettelson, William Blair President and CEO

This edition of Client Focus looks at the possibilities of what a trillion-dollar-plus infrastructure plan could mean to businesses, investors, society, and the economy overall.

Nick Heymann, co-group head of the Equity Research infrastructure team, along with research analysts Brian Drab and Ryan Merkel, describe the changes already underway within the infrastructure sector and the growth outlook if some version of the AJP is eventually signed into law.

Additionally, William Blair investment bankers Paul Majeski and Jo Trahms report on the incredible amount of investment interest currently underway in infra projects.

While we welcome the economic rebound of 2021, we continue to integrate lessons learned from the past year. Among those are the racial and social injustices spotlighted by the events of 2020. Inclusivity and diversity, engaging in our communities remain core values of William Blair.

I am very proud of how the firm and colleagues have responded and continue to support their communities. Most recently, we commemorated Juneteenth with a firmwide discussion on diversity, equity and inclusion, and announced a new gift matching program for our community partner Greenwood Project.

In this issue, we feature Greenwood Project and its amazing work of introducing Black and Latinx high school and college students from underserved communities to careers in the financial services industry. Kwesi Smith, a research analyst with William Blair Investment Management, serves as its board chair.

It has been a great honor to work with the Greenwood Project, named after the prosperous Greenwood neighborhood of Tulsa, Oklahoma, destroyed 100 years ago during the Tulsa Race Massacre. I encourage you to learn more about Greenwood and how these young scholars are becoming leaders in the financial services industry.

With the COVID restrictions lifting and summer upon us, I hope you find time to relax with family and friends. On behalf of the entire William Blair team, thank you for the trust you place in the firm.

Sincerely,

"John"

JOHN ETTELSON
President and CEO