Bill Dugdale

My aim, as a lifelong learner and global thinker, is to land on the cutting edge of my industry

I believe a strong advisor-client relationship is built around open-mindedness, active listening and making sure my clients’ interests are appropriately aligned with their personal ideologies. Throughout the development of our relationship, I demonstrate empathy and a desire to truly understand their perspectives. By virtue of that, my clients can tell I truly care about them. Their goals are my goals. In my 25-year career, I have come to the conclusion that success is achieved by shared experiences and learnings, and most notably, by displaying kindness and respect.

What inspired you to join Bernstein?

Ironically, I wasn’t looking for a career change when I joined Bernstein. Sometimes things just fall into place in such a way that they seem meant to be.

Prior to Bernstein, I spent 18 years at Friess Associates, as an investment manager, researching companies, communicating with sophisticated investment committees and studying manager selection best practices. I never imagined becoming an advisor to families, foundations and endowments.

In fact, I thought I would stay for the duration of my career at Friess Associates until investment management firm Brown Advisory convinced me to work there. I’m grateful for the perspective I gained at Brown as it helped me to hone my understanding of the complex needs private clients face and how they think about volatility and managing balanced portfolios. There, I came to embrace the fact that I crave constant knowledge in regard to my industry. This seeker mentality, combined with my research background, is why I believe that growth isn’t always good. It can happen too quickly. At Brown, I also gained clarity around the struggles and conflicts of the industry. As I observed Brown’s competition, the firm and myself, it became clear that I needed a greater perspective in order to become the professional I wanted to be.

I told my wife, “I’m not leaving Brown” the day I went to breakfast with Don Braun, Managing Director and Senior Vice President at Bernstein. Yet, I immediately recognized, as I listened to Don talk, that Bernstein, a wise, innovative and entrepreneurial firm, was the best match for me. My mind was made up. Fifteen interviews and four months later, I became a part of the Bernstein team. Several years later, I never cease to be impressed by Bernstein’s people, vision and focus on listening and planning as a starting point for financial advising. I am having fun, growing and couldn’t be more excited about meeting my clients. It’s an honor to grow a business with this fine firm behind me. I am in the right place. 

Tell me about the types of clients you work with.

I can help any client with the benefit of wealth and the burden of complexity. Yet, the type of client who benefits most from my area of expertise is the entrepreneur; in particular, one who struggles with how, when and why to exit a business. The real hurdle I help my clients get over is helping them leave behind a chapter of their life, which feels like a huge part of their identity.

All of my clients have certain traits in common: a fire in their belly, admirable work ethic and an ingrained passion that has gotten them where they are today. Generally, when I meet them, they are beginning to reflect on what is next and what is most important to them. They want help in uncovering the next phase and how they can engage in a meaningful way with their community.

Oftentimes, their financial journey has been exciting and all-consuming, yet it has led to their life becoming more complex than they ever imagined. Fortunately, they have the humility and self-awareness to admit they need a financial advisor to be the best they can be. At this tipping point, I make it safe to be vulnerable and self-reflect, both of which, in my eyes, are required. There is an element of psychology to what I do in terms of engaging different parties in conversations.

My clients have learned from past failures and successes. They realize the importance of having a trusted team of professional advisors, mentors, family, friends and community members. This team can be counted on, asked for guidance, bring innovation to the table and execute plans.

I believe my clients deserve peace of mind in this next chapter of their financial lives. My hope is to help them recognize the importance of community and the ways in which it will make them stronger and bring every one of my resources to execute on their customized plan. My team strives to achieve the best outcomes for our clients, their family, business, employees, causes and everything they care about. 

What passions do you pursue outside of work?

Above all else, I love spending time with my family and loved ones. In addition, I enjoy learning about new subjects, working in my yard and my workshop, practicing yoga and meditating, which I am trying to do more consistently.

Beyond those activities, which help me get into the flow, my real passion, beyond my work, is volunteering with nonprofits. Twenty years ago, my aunt recruited me to join the board of St. Michael’s School and Nursery, which is an early childhood education school. I still serve on the board and was fortunate to chair it for over five years. Around the same time, I was approached by the CEO of the Delaware Community Foundation, also my mentor, to help found a group called The Next Generation, which is a part of The Delaware Community Foundation. I eventually became President of the group, which teaches young people how to be effective nonprofit board members. This experience led to my current position as Chairman of the DCF Board. I also am honored to serve on the Board of Managers of the Nemours/Alfred I. duPont Hospital for Children.

My line of work has taught me the true meaning of giving back. Working with millionaires, billionaires and for a philanthropic firm, I have witnessed many examples of how to contribute to organizations through time, money and knowledge. My role models seek joy and a sense of community through volunteering. Similarly, philanthropy has become part of who I am. Giving without expecting is something I hope to teach my children. Like my mentors, I believe I will support causes I care about for as long as I live.