Wow! I had an emotionally overwhelming day scrolling through the hundreds of biographies I edited for Bernstein, a wealth management firm that recently relocated its headquarters to Nashville by way of New York. I have been finessing 300+ bios for the global firm, that manages hundreds of billions of dollars, since last year and learning more than I ever thought possible about stocks, bonds, and financial strategy. (HUGE shout out to my friend Heather George, Co-Founder and National Director of their Family Engagement Services Group, who recommended me for the job and has an amazing story in her own right.) Forget about bitcoin and all of those other crazy cryptocurrencies. Finance in its simplest form is beyond complicated. It was also one of the craziest industries to be a part of in 2020. I almost had guilt for taking Bernstein’s advisors, strategists, and managers away from their clients to chat with me about their jobs.
However, I was happy to hear that the bio writing process was a nice reprieve from surfing the highs and lows of the marketplace. Lucky for me, this group of geniuses always want to be better and took crafting their stories seriously. Most importantly, they saw the value in hiring an outsider like myself to assist and ask all those questions they were too close to the vest to think about. Personally, it was fascinating to see the softer side of an industry that I had falsely connected with simply typing on the calculator all day long. A few tears were even shed while talking about clients, family, and everything in between. The people at Bernstein care deeply about the athletes, entertainers, entrepreneurs, and business owners they serve.
As for me, someone who grew up in a bohemian, artistic household, I reframed my own definition of money. Maybe I had been made to think that artistic people and money didn’t mix. Or, perhaps that money makes people different, even for the worst. After all, don’t they say people who win the lottery are some of the most miserable? Once they buy their Porsches then it’s all downhill from there. Well, maybe they should have had a Bernstein advisor around because of the impression I was left with post-project: money is a blessing that can be used to make the world a more beautiful place. It should also be viewed as sacred and directly tied to one’s moral compass. If you are lucky enough to have it, especially at a time when many lack it, then it’s imperative to dig deep to figure out the best way to distribute it. I was touched by the time that is spent with clients figuring out how to give back to a world that gave so much to them.
The end result of my eight-month journey with Bernstein is 300+ bios that preserve the corporate history and institutional knowledge that is often lost in the day-to-day craziness. This informal collection of philosophies around finance also lends insight into the fact that money is whatever you make it. I now look at money from my heart rather than my head and hope to make a lot more of it so I can help others.
Check out a few of the bios I wrote for their firm here and if you know of a company that could use corporate bios or custom books please consider making a referral. I love what I do and am grateful for great clients, Lily C Hansen