The CEO’s Perspective

A Hopeful Outlook

March 2021 / 2 min read
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It really does feel like a new year.

The rollout of new COVID vaccines, the ramp up of vaccine production, President Biden’s relief package, and signs of economic recovery are hopeful signs that our daily lives will become less restrictive in the coming months.

At William Blair, we are beginning to think about what needs to be in place to potentially bring employees back to the office later this year. What the coronavirus pandemic has taught us is that “offices” will look much different than before the lockdown, incorporating a hybrid of in-person and remote work settings. Technology will continue to keep colleagues connected with clients and each other. We discovered by embracing the latest technology, we were able to serve more clients in 2020 and grow business across all our units year-over-year.

John Ettelson
John Ettelson, William Blair President and CEO

We are also excited about some recent investments we have made in our businesses in 2021.

A veteran banking team, tasked with accelerating the growth of William Blair’s existing financing and advisory practice in SPACs (special purpose acquisition companies), joined our investment banking unit earlier this year. We are continuing to scale our business and add staff to support our growth. SPACs—a key component of the convergence of public and private capital markets—have become a popular way to take companies public today. We are looking forward to expanding our services in this important market.

Our investment management team announced this quarter it was acquiring Investment Counselors of Maryland to deepen William Blair’s value expertise and complement its U.S., international, and emerging markets small-cap franchise. The deal is expected to close in May.

Optimism also stems from the prospect for strong economic expansion in 2021. Analysts say that optimism is fueling the equity markets now. In this edition of Client Focus, William Blair’s London-based macroeconomist Richard de Chazal shares his outlook. While he remains hopeful for recovery, de Chazal notes the overwhelming caveat for economic recovery is containing the virus and continuing an aggressive vaccine rollout.

For an update on the COVID vaccines, Tim Lugo, head of William Blair’s equity research biotech team, provides his insights on the J&J vaccine and Novavax’s vaccine candidate. Brian Weinstein, who leads the life science equity research team, gives an update on COVID testing.

Additionally, Client Focus features a conversation with William Blair client Justin Ullman, who heads the University of Chicago Cancer Research Foundation board. His enthusiasm about science, research, philanthropy, and community action is an inspiration to us all.

As we move forward in 2021, I want to thank you for the trust you have placed in William Blair as your financial partner. We look forward to working with you this year.



President and CEO