Senior Managing Director

Mary Ann Best

There are no rules of thumb in our business

I invest in clients through a thorough, empathetic, and bespoke approach. Asking the right questions, truly listening, and treating clients as they want to be treated is how I ensure they feel heard and are empowered to make bold financial decisions.

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

My conversations with Bernstein began in 2000, and each meeting increased my interest in the firm. I started in 2001, a year filled with unimaginable events: the tech bubble imploded, my Aunt Louise passed away, and I returned to D.C. just as 9/11 happened. And 9/11 did change the world...the uncertainty caused me to question how I could build a practice in the face of a bear market and a world turned upside down? But joining Bernstein was the best thing I could have done. Despite the industry’s previous ostracism and derision of Bernstein’s positions, we warned of a sharp reversal in the technology sector and advocated the strengths of active management. We were right! I knew I was in the right place at the right time with the right firm. I also met my husband that year, the anchor to my beloved Washington, DC. While three bear markets have been tough, I've stayed at Bernstein longer than anywhere else. As my family consistently demonstrated, challenges are opportunities for growth.

How have your values and personal background uniquely positioned you to work with your clients?

The strength and fortitude of my family and the tsunami of Southernness that was my childhood significantly shaped me. They also created the foundation for the value system that enables me to truly engage with and understand my clients: intellectual curiosity, genuine care for others, empathy, acceptance, and appreciation of differences, monetary stewardship, and the determination to succeed and thrive despite circumstances. Learning about clients' unique complexities and the twists and turns of their lives is my passion. It's like connecting with the characters in my favorite book. There are no rules of thumb in our business therefore, I spend a lot of time upfront listening to clients to unpack goals and get them where they want to go. By teasing out their unique differences and advising through an empathic lens, I create a custom roadmap that delivers the best outcome for their situation.

To call my role “a job” just doesn’t capture it. Being an advisor at Bernstein is a calling.

Who has been the most influential person in your life?

The short answer would have to be my entire family. At 4 years old, I decided that I wanted to live in Washington, DC. Resolute, head held high, I announced it to my mother, my Aunt Louise, and my Grandmother while we were standing in front of the White House. They laughed and dismissed my remark as a whimsical, childish fantasy. Little did they know my statement would, in fact, be prophetic, and it would be their influence (including Aunt Louise, who was instrumental in my understanding of money, the capital markets, and the importance of being a good fiduciary), along with the rest of my resilient, gifted family, that would get me there. My family has since expanded to include my husband and our four daughters, and the lessons and values I learned from my family earlier in life are the cornerstones of my own life now, enabling me to see challenges and change as opportunities, failure as an impetus for reinvention, and above all, to exhibit empathy and strength in every circumstance.