What inspired you to join Bernstein?
I was introduced to the firm by Helene Katz. Helene joined Bernstein in the early 1980s when it was a completely male-dominated industry. She told me Bernstein was the only firm on Wall Street that gave her a chance, believed in her, and provided her with the resources to serve her clients. Helene was a skillful storyteller and I loved hearing her talk about her time with Bernstein. But there was one story she revisited often. She would say: “Blake, money management is a humbling business. We didn’t always get it right, and we were often wrong. That’s the nature of the capital markets. But no matter what, we always did right by our clients.” Helene passed away in September 2021. Her legacy as well as the values that Bernstein stands for are still impactful on my life. They’re why I’m here.
How have your values and personal background uniquely positioned you to work with your clients?
Integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do. These are the three core values that were instilled in me during my time at the Air Force Academy and ROTC. Trust is everything in a client-advisor relationship and my clients trust me to deliver upon all those core values. Trust, you might say, can be defined as a willingness to be vulnerable. The more you trust someone, the more vulnerable and honest you are willing to be with them.
I always knew that I wanted to be an advisor. But I understood that to be the most effective in serving my clients, I needed first to equip myself with technical expertise. As a result, I spent 4 years at AB working in our fixed income investment team alongside our portfolio managers and economists. I also understood that the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) Designation was the highest distinction in the investment management profession, so I set out to obtain it. The technical side did not come easy for me, I’m not innately intelligent. Emotional intelligence, however, is where I thrive. Now having the combination of the two (IQ + EQ), enables me to serve my clients in a truly differentiated way. I often stop and remind myself, what an honor it is that people come to me for advice. Success, in my book, is when my clients trust me enough to come to me for advice beyond investment management. That’s when I know I have reached the pinnacle of the client-advisor relationship.
Who has been the most influential person in your life?
My mom is without a doubt the single most influential person in my life. When I was six years old, she lost the love of her life, my father, to brain cancer. At only 38 years old, she was tasked with raising three children by herself. I will never forget the resiliency and grit that I saw her display throughout that tragedy. My mom is the most good-hearted, loving, hardworking person I have ever known. She did everything in her power to ensure that my sisters and I had the opportunities and support to succeed. She always focuses on others first and herself second. She remains the perfect role model and I learned how to be myself because of her. I am as committed as she is to serving others and influencing their lives for the better. This is my foundation and my purpose in life.