Advice industry reacts to Jud Bergman's death

Envestnet's CEO is remembered not just for the transformational company he led, but for his humor and kindness

Oct 4, 2019 @ 1:00 pm

By Ryan W. Neal

News that Envestnet CEO Jud Bergman died in a car accident Thursday along with his wife, Mary Miller, shook the financial advice industry.

As the leader of the largest turnkey asset management platform and adviser technology provider, Mr. Bergman was not just admired and respected for his work, he was beloved for his humor, kindness and passion for history and chess.

On Friday, financial services leaders paid tribute to a man many say was a true visionary, whose innovations revolutionized the wealth management industry.

"Our community will always remember him as a warm, caring individual whose genius lives on in the company he founded and the lives he influenced," said Riskalyze CEO Aaron Klein, who held a moment of silence for Mr. Bergman and Ms. Miller Friday morning at his company's Fearless Investing Summit.

"You know, I recently had the privilege of moderating an event panel that included Jud, and I'll never forget someone pulling me aside and saying, 'I'll bet you anything Jud finds a way to talk about the game of chess no matter what question you ask him," Mr. Klein recalled. "And sure enough, it wasn't more than an answer or two into the panel that he started talking about how chess strategy could teach us something about where financial services was headed."

When Mr. Bergman launched Envestnet in 1999, it was among the first web-based wealth management platforms.

When he was profiled by InvestmentNews in 2016 as one of the members of its inaugural list of industry innovators, Mr. Bergman said the concept of online software took a few years to catch on.

Today Envestnet is the market leader among turnkey asset management providers with a 36.7% market share, according to Cerulli Associates. Envestnet has 3,500 institutional clients, counts 96,000 financial advisers on its platform and serves more than $3 trillion in assets.

[Recommended video: Revolution by evolution: Jud Bergman and Bill Crager talk about trends]

"Looking back, I'm not sure there's anyone who has made quite as many chess moves in financial technology as Jud has, and each move has driven the industry forward and elevated the profession of financial advice," Mr. Klein said.

Prior to starting Envestnet, Mr. Bergman served as managing director for mutual funds at Nuveen Investments and was a member of the company's Investment Management Committee.

Mr. Bergman received a bachelor of arts in English from Wheaton College and got an MBA with a concentration in finance and accounting at Columbia University.

In 2018, Ernst & Young recognized Mr. Bergman as Entrepreneur of the Year.

Gavin Spitzner, president of Wealth Consulting Partners, worked at Envestnet following the company's acquisition of Prudential Wealth Management Solutions in 2013. He called Mr. Bergman "bold and transformational," but what Mr. Spitzner will remember most is Mr. Bergman's "gentle spirit and endless curiosity."

"As great of a leader and visionary as Jud was in our business, that all pales in comparison to the generosity of spirit he displayed and the genuine interest he took in people," Mr. Spitzner said.

Lori Hardwick, chairman of Riskalyze and CEO of Wealth Tech at RedRock Strategic Partners, was one of Envestnet's founding partners and said in blog post she is "personally devastated" by the news of Mr. Bergman's death. She will remember him "as the independent and free spirit genius who personally influenced me to achieve my true potential," she said.

"He inspired one of the most influential and successful fintech platforms to date because he wasn't afraid to imagine what could be," Ms. Hardwick said. "He will be truly missed."

Leaders from across the industry paid tribute to Bergman and his wife on social media.

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