What is the most fulfilling aspect of being an advisor to your clients?
I never took success for granted. My parents were Holocaust survivors and our family lived poorly in a South Bronx tenement into the early 1970s, long before the neighborhood’s renaissance. I know that my clients labored hard for their success. They expect careful and competent management of their assets, which they judiciously saved over the years. These assets are a way of giving meaning to their lives, the lives of their family members, businesses and their philanthropies. It’s a great honor to take excellent care of the wealth my clients worked hard for. It also brings me full circle back to where I started and am now in my own life.
What differentiates you from other advisors?
During my service for the New York Governor in the 1990s, I served as a trustee of the City University of New York. This institution, formerly referred to as the “Poor Man’s Harvard,” is where I received my own higher education, which enabled my two careers in government and finance. At the time, our board spearheaded the restoration of standards and programs that eventually brought historic change to CUNY. The incentive behind the movement was to prepare students for their academic experience, rather than just push them in. In essence, we turned the university around and brought landmark improvements to the student body, most of whom were immigrants. My 21-year career in government, the lessons I gleaned from working with world-famous institutions and the impact I was able to have on New York City set me apart from other advisors.
Who has been the most influential person in your life?
Roger Hertog, one of our firm’s three founders, was the long-time president of Bernstein until his retirement about a decade ago. He mentored me during my first decade at Bernstein. Beyond a mutually strong understanding of our business, Roger and I maintain a close relationship based on our love of history and ideas. Roger’s stewardship, over the years, of the New-York Historical Society, the Manhattan Institute, the Tikvah Fund and too many other organizations to count, is illustrative of the life balance he achieved. Since getting to know Roger, I have also sought this out in my own life as well: a balance between making a living and pursuing the larger things for which we are on this earth.