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Longtime head of Pershing’s RIA business, Mark Tibergien, to retire

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A long-renowned leader and advocate for the independent advisory industry, Mark Tibergien, is retiring as head of Pershing Advisor Solutions at the end of May after 12 years at the custodian. Ben Harrison, the firm's head of business development and relationship management, has been tapped to take his place.

“I’m 68. I’ve been working for almost five decades — so I think I deserve a little break,” Tibergien says.

The over 720 firms custodying at Pershing first heard the news via a “blast message” Tuesday evening just ahead of the company statement, according to Tibergien. He had already personally reached out to about 15 members of the firm’s Advisory Council.

“These people have been important to our business here, and God knows they’ve taught me a lot,” Tibergien says, noting he will try to reach out to as many people as possible by email, phone and in person before his departure.

Tibergien's successor Harrison has been with the firm since 2006 in various roles. He was promoted to head of business development at Pershing Advisor Solutions in 2015 and began to lead the relationship management team in 2019.

“It’s very bittersweet,” Harrison says of Tibergien's departure, adding: “He’s given us as a company so much, but it’s more than just the company. He’s touched so many of us at Pershing.”

Tibergien says he has thought about his succession strategy since he took on his role at Pershing in 2008, three years after the firm established its RIA custody division. Harrison pointed out that the executive team did exercises where all members of the committee practiced taking on the top role.

Over the last five years, planning for succession became more of a focus for Tibergien and “the last year it was really done in earnest,” he says — noting there were about five potential individuals they considered for the position.

Tibergien started his career as a journalist, writing obituaries in Michigan. "Never in my dreams did I imagine I would be part of this business directly ...” he says. “All I knew about custodians was that they had a lot of keys."

Since he started leading Pershing’s RIA custody business in 2008, it has grown to $822 billion in assets. It is widely known for custodying assets for some of the largest RIAs in the industry.

Currently, Tibergien has eight direct reports and oversees an executive committee of 12. He says he is proud of the leadership team he has built, the thought leadership at the company and the diversity they have achieved within the custodial division.

The Advisor Solutions business' employees are 42% people of color and 51% women, he says, although he noted that the executive committee has “a ways to go” to match those statistics. Tibergien has called the lack of diversity within the advisory industry a “grave threat.”

Tibergien’s retirement will be felt across the industry. He has long been known as an advocate for the independent channel — and the individuals within it.

“I just don't think they make them any better than Mark Tibergien, personally,” Sue Thompson, head of SPDR Americas distribution at State Street and a founding member of the group Women in ETFs, told Financial Planning about half an hour before Pershing announced his retirement.

Harrison spoke highly of Tibergien’s leadership at Pershing and his vision for the future of advice.

“So many of us are focused on the day-to-day and what we need to do in terms of returning value for shareholders in meeting our goals, et cetera,” Harrison says. “Mark is looking way out into the future about what this business will look like in 15, 20, 30 years.”

While he insists he is officially retiring as an executive, Tibergien is making plans for the future. He says he would be interested in board positions, is setting consulting and mentorship goals and he may continue to speak or write.

“I hope — to some degree — people will find that I still have something to offer,” he says.

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