When we think of finance, we may think of cold, hard cash and unfeeling numbers. But the people you’ll meet here in WAG’s first finance issue can truly be said to put the “personal” in personal finance — a subject that may be more important than ever in this challenging economy.

When we think of finance, we may think of cold, hard cash and unfeeling numbers. But the people you’ll meet here in WAG’s first finance issue can truly be said to put the “personal” in personal finance — a subject that may be more important than ever in this challenging economy.

Indeed, Larry M. Elkin, founding president of Palisades Hudson Financial Group LLC, told Phil that apart from an aptitude for complex financial and legal issues, what he looks for in a job candidate is “the interest to emphasize the personal rather than the financial in personal financial planning….Very, very few people have as their primary goal to die with the biggest possible net worth. They’ve got a whole lot of other more important goals and often conflicting goals, and helping people identify those objectives, prioritize them, resolve conflicts and then plan successfully to meet them really challenges us.”

Solving those challenges means having a relationship with the client. 

“We’re part of my clients’ lives,” cover subject Hiral Shah, a private client adviser at J.P. Morgan Wealth Management in Mount Kisco, tells Peter. “Most of my clients know my wife. Most of my clients have met my kids. We are truly a part of my clients’ lives, because they’re inviting us into theirs….”

For Shah, it isn’t just about client connections. It’s also about him connecting with his team — and with himself. 

“There’s a balance of that work-life cycle, appreciating the beauty that nature has to offer,” Shah says of time spent outdoors with his family and their rescue dogs.

It’s a motif that runs through the articles here. “Recently, I heard that it is no longer work-life balance, it’s work-life integration,” says Becky Lansen, senior vice president and general manager of Venmo at Sychrony financial services in Stamford, named one of the 15 most powerful women in banking by American Banker in part for spearheading the creation of the first credit card for Venmo, PayPal’s money transfer app. Despite coordinating a team working remotely, Lansen tells Justin that she commutes from Rhode Island, kayaks in the morning and admires the sunset while walking her dogs along a beach. (Dogs are another recurring theme here.)

The connection between the personal and the professional is so strong at Neuberger Berman that William Peterson, one of the firm’s managing directors, likes to tell the story of a certain social services agency that put him, once a foundling, on the path to a brilliant life. Today, that agency is his biggest client.

If the name Neuberger Berman resonates in these pages, it’s partly because its primary founder, the courtly Roy R. Neuberger, was also the founding patron of the Neuberger Museum of Art on the Purchase College campus. 

Nonprofits like the Neuberger Museum are a different species, says Evan M. Kingsley, co-founder of Plan A Advisors, which combines planning and fundraising strategies for nonprofits: “In the for-profit world, the bottom line is the bottom line,” Kingsley says. “But the measure of success (in a nonprofit) is its impact on the community or audience it desires to serve.”

Like Kingsley, Michelle Yun Mapplethorpe has built a career in the nonprofit world — in her case, one that has bridged the Far East and the West. On Aug. 15, she’ll become executive director of the Katonah Museum of Art, having served most recently as Asia Society’s vice president for the Global Artistic Programs at the society’s 14 centers, director of the society’s museum and co-founding artistic director of its triennial.

Clive Davis made his name in the for-profit world as the music mogul behind the careers of everyone from Bruce Springsteen to Whitney Houston. But as Jeremy discovered, he saw an opportunity to patronize the nonprofit world by backing the transformation of the Bedford Playhouse “to offer quality films, yes, but also to really create an active arts center with lectures and concerts.”

We take a break from making money to spend some with a little retail therapy at Mary Jane Denzer, the couture boutique in White Plains that has thrived amid the pandemic thanks to judicious planning, and with our home design columnist Cami Weinstein, who’s set up shop in East Hampton. If you’re still in the mood to shop till you drop, you’ll want to watch for the end of August sale at Casafina, a long-established Brewster wholesaler of upscale Portuguese kitchen and tableware that opens its doors to the public six times a year. (Jeremy has a sneak peek.) And you’ll want to keep an eye out for Skinner’s Aug. 9 auction of a stainless-steel, water-resistant, antimagnetic Tornek-Rayville TR-900 Dive Watch, (circa 1964), produced for the U.S. Navy Underwater Demolition Team, now the Navy SEALs. Katie has the lowdown on a timepiece whose estimate ranges from $70,000 to $90,000. (It’s a mere bauble compared to our Sotheby’s House of the Month, a mid-century modern oasis in Greenwich that’s yours for close to $3 million.)

Hey, we can dream, can’t we? You’ll have fun dining with Jeremy at La Crémaillière in Bedford, newly reopened, and traveling with him from the refurbished Wylder Wyndham hotel in upstate New York to St. Tropez in the south of France or slipping next door to sip Mayor de Migueloa wines with Doug in Spain’s Basque region. Or sit back and enjoy our dual profile of the delightful David Gordon, M.D. and wife Marissa Pessl. She’s a New York Times best-selling novelist — who got her literary start in finance. He’s regional chair of neurosurgery for Northwell facilities in Westchester County. Together, they’re a marriage of true minds.

Or kick back with our new Profits and Passion feature about Paul Okura, the president and CEO of CMIT Solutions of Southern Westchester in Eastchester, who feeds his soul by ballroom dancing. Like the Richard Gere character in “Shall We Dance?” Okura has learned that you don’t just live to work. You work to live.

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