What inspired you to join Bernstein?
Culture matters to me. Long ago when I first walked into Bernstein, I saw a single framed artifact on an otherwise blank wall. It was a NY Times obituary from 1999 and the headline read “Zalman C. Bernstein, 72, Iconoclastic Broker.” Another New Yorker (my late father Mark) and I had traded obituaries from the Times for at least 20 years prior to that day, brief snapshots of people who had led fascinating and impactful lives.
While I didn’t join Bernstein because of the obituary, I did accept a position at the firm because of the culture that Zalman built, based upon uncompromising quality, relentless ingenuity and unimpeachable ethics.
Even with the unparalleled scope of our toolkit as a research firm and asset manager, it is the rich feedback culture that is most important to me. Every year I have been at the firm is a year that I have leapt forward in my professional development, and thus in the strength of my capability to serve my clients’ complex needs.
Tell me about the types of clients you work with.
I work with uniquely successful entrepreneurs and multigenerational families as a partner in navigating the complexity of their financial affairs. In close collaboration with their tax, legal and banking advisors, I harness Bernstein’s global resources to guide the potential sale of their private family business; deal with their publicly traded stock exposure through 10b5-1 plans or hedging strategies; define and implement long-term philanthropic objectives; or accomplish state-of-the-art wealth transfer.
We deliver highly customized investment solutions that speak to the unique needs of entrepreneurs, who often are looking for income replacement. These may include private credit and private equity exposures, long/short strategies, both active and passive equities, and values-based and socially responsible investment approaches. We do this at a highly competitive cost that is a fraction of what is broadly available in the marketplace, often with a Performance Based Fee structure.
Who has been the most influential person in your life?
My late father Mark Dornstreich. He and my mother Judy met as freshmen at the University of Pennsylvania in 1959. My brother Jesse and I also went on to attend and graduate from Penn. I’m proud to currently participate as a member of the Council for Discovery Science at Penn Medicine where some of the most promising therapies in the world originate. The Council is composed of a group of business leaders who work to ensure that these innovative therapies go to market.
In 1978, my parents bought a plot of land in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, which is where I grew up on a small working farm. Dad had a dictum, which was that we had to finish our row while weeding, watering or harvesting vegetables, no matter what. Hard work, perseverance and unsurpassed quality are the values that inform my work as an advisor. They are also a large part of why I work at Bernstein. In this respect, the value we create and the impact we have on those who matter most is what gives life meaning.