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Voices

Working for Jud Bergman: What a former Financial Planning editor saw when she left for Envestnet

"Jud had the optimism of a true entrepreneur: He believed," says former Financial Planning editor, Marion Asnes.

I first met Jud Bergman in 2010 when I was editor in chief of Financial Planning magazine. The stock market recovery was starting to feel real. The technology revolution that re-ordered the wealth management industry was in a much earlier stage — and Jud had anticipated many of the changes.

Intrigued by Envestnet’s possibilities, and inspired by my conversations with Bergman and Bill Crager, I left Financial Planning to become the chief marketing officer at Envestnet. I had spent the first 30 years of my career in journalism and making the leap into business was both thrilling and terrifying.

Jud was not at all what I thought a financial CEO would be. He was close to his children — defying the cliches of the distant executive parent. Most importantly, he was in love with innovation and saw its possibilities in a distinctive way. Jud had the optimism of a true entrepreneur: He believed. This always surprised and impressed me.

Jud was imaginative and cultured. He could be charming. He also had a strong moral sense, which informed his attitude toward Envestnet and the entire wealth management industry. He believed in the value of a fiduciary approach to investing and wanted Envestnet’s platform to reflect that. (In fact, Jud frequently said that when he first started Envestnet, he assumed that RIAs, not independent broker-dealers, would be the primary users of the platform.) As someone who had started my own career reporting on consumer finance, I admired Jud’s concern for the end client. Advisors who knew Jud responded warmly to his attitude.

It’s a challenge to work for someone like Jud, who really was a genius about wealth management. I struggled to keep up with his ideas and to communicate my own in a way he could appreciate. I always felt several steps behind — especially because I had entered his company at a high level, with experience that was not necessarily in keeping with his goals. As a former journalist, I was trained to be skeptical about practices and norms he believed in (and based the company upon), such as active management. This really tripped me up. I needed to rise but I felt like a plodding, earthbound apostate. Leaving his orbit was a relief though I will always be grateful for my experience.

As wealth management continues to evolve and advance, there will be others who, like Jud, will innovate in ways that benefit advisors and clients. That ability is much, much more than investment expertise. Looking beyond the present to turn the future into a thriving business — then building a team that can both execute and extend your vision — is a skill few people can develop. Jud was one of the greats.

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