James McColl

Doing the Right Thing and Right by People

As Principal at the firm, I’ve advised high-net-worth individuals, families, nonprofits and associations in a real, grounded and kind way. I pride myself on keeping things in perspective and staying even-keeled during tumultuous times.

What has inspired you to stay at Bernstein for as long as you have?

I have been at Bernstein for over 13 years. The primary reason I’ve stayed at the firm for such a long period of time is because of the culture of integrity that exists within every Bernstein office. It is one thing to speak about “always doing what is in the client’s best interest,” but it is another to actively do this every single day, with every decision and in every circumstance. Integrity is one of the strongest values ingrained into the culture of the firm, and it makes me proud to be a member of the Bernstein family every day I come into work. One day, when I retire, my job will go away. However, what will not go away are the memories of my clients who I have connected with because of Bernstein, the clean conscience I’ve had while working here and knowing that I made the right moves because the motivation of our firm is pure. I can look at myself in the mirror every morning and be proud of the work that I do. That is rare.

What is the most fulfilling aspect of being an advisor to your clients?

The most fulfilling aspect of being a Bernstein advisor is knowing that I am truly able to help my clients with their most important life decisions. I understand and appreciate the gravity of this opportunity. A few examples of the life-altering choices I have the privilege of being privy to include assessing my clients’ ability to retire, how they will make a career change, invest in a second home or implement wealth transfer strategies. I have the utmost confidence in Bernstein’s team, resources and approach to analytics and planning. All of these factors ensure that my clients will also be confident making their most important life decisions because they have the best possible information in their hands.

What passions do you pursue outside of work?

I have many interests outside of work including playing golf, watching college football and, really, playing any and all sports. (I played tennis in college.) While I love physical activity, my true passion is coaching. I have coached my children in every sport they played growing up including basketball, soccer, track, tennis and baseball, and even served as a manager for my son’s team on our trip to Cooperstown, New York. Currently, I feel fortunate to be able to coach my son David, as an assistant coach, as he plays on the New Trier High School varsity tennis team right outside of Chicago. I’m enjoying this role so much that I plan to continue to coach the team for many years—even after David graduates and goes off to college.

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