Thank You, Mark Tibergien

By Stephanie Bogan, with Suzanne Siracuse

When the news broke that Mark Tibergien was retiring from Pershing Advisor Solutions, we sidestepped our standing strategy discussion to share stories about Mark’s influence on us over the years.

We quickly noted Mark’s role as The Godfather of practice management and the decades he meticulously made the case for professionally managing your practice; ultimately ushering in an age of professionalism that continues to ripple positively across the profession.

Yet, by the end of our call, we realized we’d spent far more time elaborating on and appreciating Mark’s genius and generosity beyond the boundaries of practice management.  It is these stories we wanted to share with the goal of giving you a richer sense of the man behind Mark Tibergien the leader.

In addition to demonstrating admirable leadership in his own firms, Mark became a mentor to many, advocate for inclusion and advancer of financial literacy.  His career is filled with examples of his leadership in action, and we share these stories to reflect a richer view of his contribution and influence over the years.

A Gracious Giant

I remember the first time I met Mark at Pershing’s INSITE conference in Hollywood, FL. He was surrounded on all sides by advisors eagerly awaiting his wisdom.  I, the newly promoted Publisher of Investment News, was intimidated as I stood there waiting.  Uncertain if he’d be arrogant or approachable I quickly learned how inclusive and supportive he can be as he warmly welcomed me into a conversation with him. 

Mark quickly became a professional ally and ardent supporter.  He regularly offered his insights on industry trends, helping us expose and explore them in our coverage.  He was an ardent support of the transition of the Moss Adams Benchmarking Survey to InvestmentNews, and became an invaluable source as we continued to tackle the most relevant and important topics.

Even more cherished is that Mark became a friend, confidant and mentor to me over the years.  His vote of confidence emboldened my decision to start my own firm, and his continued friendship and support continue to help me find my way. 

While Mark’s role as CEO of Pershing Advisor Solutions has concluded, I trust his presence in this profession will be felt for years to come.   Thank You, Mark Tibergien. 

Suzanne Siracuse
CEO of Suzanne Siracuse Consulting Services

 

In story after story about Mark, we found threads of the same leadership and humility that he so generously offered to me early in my own career.

It’s little known that I almost sold my prior firm to Moss Adams years before it was acquired by Genworth.  Mark approached me about being acquired and, in my late 20s, I could not have been more flattered at the prospect of joining Mark and his prestigious team.  Which is why it was such a crushing blow when Mark shared the news that he could not acquire my firm.  Their smallest acquisition target was seven figures in revenue, and only a few years into practicing, we didn’t yet meet that threshold.

Mark could have simply shared the revelation and moved on unceremoniously, but instead he took the care and time to let me down gently, offer me a place on his team and then graciously supported my decision to remain independent. 

I took it as a strong sign Mark perceived my business to be further along than it was, but I intuitively felt the real loss here wasn’t the economics, but in the missed experience of working with Mark.   

Mark has since been a kind supporter of me and so many others who share his belief in the possibilities for this profession and the people it serves.  He has been the driving force in legitimizing the profession of financial advice by helping advisors create real businesses for themselves. He has set an example for me and countless others to follow with his wisdom, wit and willingness to contribute to causes that focus on people as much as profits.  For your gracious example and generous spirit, Thank You Mark Tibergien

Stephanie Bogan
CEO and Founder, Limitless Adviser Coaching

 

Future Focused

The financial services and education industries are usually two separate spheres. But there is a natural place where they need to merge – and that is providing crucial financial literacy and personal economics educational opportunities for young people. Mark Tibergien has been a champion in that effort. 

You see, Mark is an alumnus of our school system. Over the past 10 years, he has supported our personal economics course as well as additional related programming that eventually reached almost every student in the Gladstone Areas school district including summer camp programming, scholarships and sponsorships to participate in state personal finance competitions.

He continues to be an outspoken advocate by encouraging others in the financial services industry to also “adopt” schools around the country by volunteering in or funding financial literacy programs. Our students, staff and especially our district’s financial literacy teaching team, are so incredibly grateful for his support, leadership, kindness and genuine interest in our programming. We know that it has the power to make a positive and long-lasting impact on our community as a whole and on our students’ lives as they reach adulthood.

Erika Fix, Personal Finance Educator
Gladstone Area High School

 

If you’re among the fortunate firms who consulted with Mark, you are no stranger to his uncanny ability to say what needs to be heard, adeptly conveying the uncomfortable truth with the calm resolve and resounding clarity.

 

We first engaged Mark about half my life ago.  He was a pioneer in RIA practice management at Moss-Adams.  We managed about $100mm at the time and Mark used to spend a day each year whipping us into shape and headed in a good direction.

I recall him telling me we were really, really profitable.  I smiled, puffed my chest and said thanks.  He promptly told me that this was not a compliment.  He pointed out that we were way too profitable and not investing enough in our business. 

If we did not make the investments in the people, process and technology required to create a real business, we were a disaster waiting to happen.

After momentarily eating humble pie, we recognized the wisdom in his advice and followed it.  Most consultants would not be so direct and honest.  He was.  And, it worked.  Twenty-five years later we are approaching 10 billion in assets, employ over 200 people and have the privilege of creating ideal futures for over 6,000 clients and their families.

I am confident that Savant, and I personally, am way better off as result of Mark’s sage advice.  I, and all the clients we have helped over the years, am grateful for the opportunity to have been one of Mark’s top students and for having benefited from his wise counsel!  Thank You, Mark Tibergien.

Brent Brodeski
CEO, Savant Capital Management

 

 Mark has been a friend, teacher, and mentor to me for most of my career. He inspired me to create a financial literacy program at the small high school I graduated from.  From his days at Moss Adams, Mark has been a giant in our profession, always willing to generously share his knowledge with others. He has spent his career to helping others while simultaneously setting the highest bar for integrity, expertise and paying it forward. Thank you, Mark Tibergien.

Bob Glovsky
Vice Chair and Principle of the Colony Group and
Chair for the CFP Board’s Center for Financial Planning

 

Mark has done more for the RIA community than anyone else and, to me, is like the Warren Buffett of the RIA community.  He has been here since the beginning, dispensing his continuous words of wisdom and the simple yet powerful messages RIAs needed to hear. 

His ability to do so with modesty and wit are among the many reasons everyone wants to spend time with Mark Tibergien. As to are his kind, warm, humble, funny, sincere, caring, patient and intelligent ways.

It is really worth noting Mark’s willingness to help anyone at any stage of their career.  He is a mentor to all and still modest enough to have his own “reverse mentor.”

Mark is always up to date on the latest shifts in the industry without forgetting the basics and often has a beat on where it is going before most.  Who else could get up on a stage month after month, year after year, decade after decade with no power point or theatrical oratory presence and have standing room only crowds hang on every word. Thank you, Mark Tibergien.

Michael Goodman
President, Wealthstream Advisors Inc.

 

Among the many compliments to Mark were his ability to inspire as much as to lead.

Mark is the definition of a wonderful and successful leader.  He makes everyone he comes into contact with better – and want to be better.  He is always open to everyone’s ideas and viewpoints, and his intellectual curiosity and breadth of knowledge is inspiring.  For almost 25 years he has had a huge impact on me professionally and personally.  He was the first to really open my eyes and educate me on the business of providing financial advice and the importance of being financially sustainable in order to take great care of clients.  His contributions have been and are immeasurable and ever-lasting.  Thank you, Mark Tibergien. 

Greg Freidman
Founder and CEO, Private Ocean

 

Mentor and Supporter of The Next Generation of Talent

Mark has always been committed to ensuring that the financial advice profession, regardless of business model, became smarter and more inclusive, while generously sharing his wisdom with anyone who asked or needed it. While the industry will lose a great leader in Mark, his real legacy will be found in his efforts fostering the development of the next generation of leaders.

Kate Healy
Managing Director, Generation Next, TD Ameritrade Institutional

 

What we heard time and time again is how Mark treats everyone with dignity and respect, regardless of age, gender, or background.  With Mark Tibergien, whether you’re a janitor or a CEO makes no difference.

I first met Mark as a 22-year-old Corporate Trainee at Pershing, completely unsure of myself and the value I could add to an organization at that age. When we proposed implementing a reverse mentoring program at Pershing, Mark’s immediate response was, “Count me in!” Fast forward to nearly 10 years later, learning from, being a mentor to, and gaining a friend in one of the most highly respected leaders in our industry has truly changed my life personally and professionally. There are seldom Senior Leaders who actually walk the walk when it comes to wanting to connect, mentor, and learn from the next generation. I’m extremely fortunate to be a recipient of Mark’s relentless conquest for bettering himself (as if he even needs that!) and others around him. He took a chance on me and I am a better leader and industry advocate because of him.  Thank you, Mark Tibergien

Kayla Kennelly | Facet Wealth
Director of Partnerships and Reverse Mentor to Mark Tibergien

 

It will come as no surprise we felt no shortage of people to call on to reflect Mark’s impact in the profession. What we hopes becomes equally as known is how Mark’s character has revealed itself throughout his career in small, uncelebrated ways.

Before the fall of 2016, I had never even heard of ‘financial literacy’. I had never heard of a financial advisor. I didn’t understand the importance of knowing how to manage money or what a 401k even meant. I didn’t feel passionate about any topic or career choice. That is, until I decided to take a Personal Finance course during my senior year.

During the class, our teacher kept mentioning that none of this would be possible without a man named Mark Tibergien. Our class would talk and say “Who is this man? Why our school? Why Personal Finance of all topics?” These materials, these resources, and the overall experience were all provided by a man who started something amazing and would grant an endless positive impact on Gladstone High School students, including myself. Because of him, I was able to set eyes on a career that I could finally feel passionate about: finance. 

My grandma always says that there will be a few people in our lives that walk in and grant us these amazing opportunities, and they usually come when we least expect it. Mark is exactly that. It is a dream of mine to carry on his legacy and be able to adopt my own school one day and provide the same experience to students. The best part? I am only one of the many, many people that share this inspiration from Mark. 

Mark left an everlasting impact on my career choice, my goals and aspirations, and my overall mindset. I will never be able to fully put into words my appreciation for everything he has done for me and this industry, but what I will say is from the bottom of my heart, Thank you, Mark Tibergien.

Caitlyn Gimler, Former Student, Gladstone high school
Recipient of the Scholarship program Mark instituted and supports

Mark is a visionary leader who has made a profound impact on the financial planning profession and whose contributions will benefit generations of financial planners to come.  Mark generously provided his time, talent and treasure to help launch the CFP Board’s Center for Financial Planning and, to this day, continues to encourage and support our work to create a more diverse and sustainable financial planning profession, so that all Americans have access to competent and ethical financial planning advice.” 

From serving on the Center’s Advisory Council, to serving as the inaugural chair of our Workforce Development Advisory Group, to his generous financial backing, Mark has stepped up to the plate. Under Mark’s leadership and with support from BNY Mellon Pershing, the Center published the groundbreaking Financial Planning Career Paths guide for employers, and in fact, we are now working on a new guide to career paths for aspiring financial planners. We remain forever grateful to Mark for his unwavering dedication, boundless volunteerism, and continued support to advance the financial planning profession.

For your far-reaching impact on countless CFP® professionals, those aspiring to join our profession, our staff at CFP Board – and most importantly – the public, Thank you, Mark Tibergien   

Kevin Keller
CEO, CFP Board

 

A few years ago, I created a personal mission to identify male financial leaders who led contrary to the profile of “pale, male and stale.” As the current majority, white men possess significant influence to elevate diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging as a critical and valuable business proposition. Mark Tibergien rose to the occasion by engaging me in thoughtful and provocative conversations and by partnering together in various ways to advance the profession. Mark’s insight, humor and presence leave an indelible mark on financial advisors who understand the power of uniting the mind and heart in service of financial planning for the greater good. Mark, Thank you.

Lazetta Rainey Braxton
Co-CEO, 2050 Wealth Partners

 

No conversation about Mark’s influence would be complete without at least one comment on his hallmark teaching style.

 Mark has been a great leader and coach to the financial services community.  He loves to share his knowledge and practical application of the disciplines required for relevance and success, and has a wonderful way of sharing his experiences through story-telling and the almighty flip chart.

Jim Crowley
CEO, Pershing

 

Every interaction with Mark is a potential learning opportunity. For me, while at Investment News, I was fortunate to take over the adviser benchmarking studies that Mark started at Moss Adams.  This provided me many opportunities to learn directly and indirectly from Mark.

That research was ahead of its time; it was big data before anyone ever heard of big data. It changed the trajectory of my career – and I am just one of the countless number of people who had the privilege to be influenced by Mark during his career. 

 Mark has shaped and influenced an entire industry during his career, which is remarkable in itself. But I’ve always been most impressed with how he has created deep, genuine connections with so many different people.  Thank you, Mark Tibergien.

Mark Bruno | Managing Director
ECHELON Partners

 

Mark’s experience and expertise have contributed to the leaders of our profession in ways that extend far beyond his time in conference halls and board rooms.

The first time I met Mark was 30 years ago in a New Orleans saloon at an IAFP conference. There was a karaoke contest, which can be highly competitive in that music-loving city. Mark sang ‘The House Of The Rising Sun’ and finished second among more than 50 contestants.

 Over the next 30 years, I got to know him very well. It is fair to say that he probably did more to transform the financial advisory business from a cottage industry into a true profession than any other single individual.  As busy as he was, Mark was always made himself available to our writers, editors and me and provided us keen, timely insights into the business.

In his career at Moss Adams, Mark served as a consultant to two diametrically different industries: tire retailers and financial advisors. In contrast to advisors, tire retailers had little romantic attachment to their business. They were in business largely to sell quality tires and make money.

I suspect financial advisors came to occupy a special place in Mark’s heart because so many of them entered this profession to pursue a higher calling, a noble purpose—helping clients achieve financial independence and some other goal. But their idealistic aspirations also led him to become a major critic of their management practices, which at many firms were quite primitive, to put it kindly. In an often humorous and realistic fashion, he gave them some tough love. That was because he sincerely believed that advisors who ignored critical business priorities like profitability and succession were short-selling themselves, their clients and, most importantly, their clients short.

As a minority shareholder in a small business who spent the last 30 years privileged to cover an emerging profession of small- and mid-sized businesses, his words always resonated as much with me as with the advisor community. So Mark, for that we are all very grateful.

 Thank You Mark Tibergien.

Evan Simonoff
Editor in Chief, FA Magazine

 

Mark’s contribution to the fiduciary advice business cannot be measured.  His commitment to mentoring the next generation of professionals is without peer.  On personal level, Mark gave me the encouragement and confidence to build Advisor Growth Strategies.  I am forever grateful for his partnership and friendship. 

John Furey, Founder and managing partner
Advisor Growth Strategies, and Founder of aRIA

 

Mark Tibergien will always be remembered as the man who started the practice management conversation in the planning/financial services profession.  I remember how, in his early career, he would run preconference sessions at industry conferences, teaching a roomful of advisors how to read their own accounting statements.  Gradually, incrementally, he managed to shift the professional conversation from only talking about best practices for serving the client, to how to run an effective advisory business and create a strong platform for those services.  He was the first person I ever talked with who believed that advisory firms would eventually build transferable value for their founders.

In his middle career, Mark put together the leading consulting team in the advisory space, and business by business, practice by practice, he helped the profession think through the thorniest of issues around managing advisory practices like a real business.  He introduced the first profession-wide compensation surveys, and the first surveys on profitability and business metrics, which established benchmarks for firms to use when they made management decisions.

In Mark’s late career, he did the bravest thing a consultant can do: he switched from telling advisors what to do, to actually following his own advice.  It must have been effective; under his leadership, Pershing Advisor Solutions grew significantly and is now in a position of leadership and prominence.

If Mark Tibergien had followed another career, I suspect that the profession as a whole would be much further behind in its business metrics than we are today.  Through it all, he remained accessible, humble and quite funny and personable whenever he and I found a free moment to relax together.  Thank you Mark Tibergien.

Bob Veres
Founder, Inside Information

 

 Looking over the decades and rich history that is Mark Tibergien’s career, it quickly becomes clear that any attempt to sum his career or the influence that Mark Tibergien has wielded these many years is doomed to fall short.  With that, on behalf of the financial planning profession, we simply say, “Thank You Mark Tibergien.”

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