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A regular contributor to RIABiz, Bob died in New York City earlier this month
January 31, 2011 — 3:07 PM UTC by Elizabeth MacBride
Brooke and I are sad to report that Bob Margolis, a regular contributor to RIABiz and the author of many of our breakaway stories, died earlier this month.
He was 44. He died of complications of diabetes.
Bob – or Bobby M. – as he often referred to himself, was widely known in the independent advisory world after years of covering the business. He had written for media companies including Forbes and ThomsonReuters – but his articles were not the sawdust-dry pieces that reporters too commonly turn out about the business of investment advice.
Rather, he worked to get the human element into all of his stories – and in fact in the months before he died told me was noodling the idea of an “advisors unplugged” blog for Forbes.
We knew him as part of the community of independent advisors, but his interests and career were much broader. For a decade, he covered music for the Alm@nac weekly, covering Ulster County, N.Y. When he spoke with me, he often ended a conversation about advisors on the note that he was heading out to hear a band in Park Slope – or leaving for a Phish concert. His chocolate lab, Ruben, was usually in tow. Ruben is now living with Bob’s sister and her family.
Bob’s career also included teaching at Rikers Island Penitentiary and serving as a research analyst at the Brookings Institution. Bob held a master’s degree in political science from the New School in Manhattan.
Bob had the most marvelously clear-eyed and compassionate view of people, from his family, whom he spoke of often, to the people he interviewed, to the hundreds of friends he counted in every city. He also was a gifted writer, as, if you’ve read his stories, you already know.
After I found out about his death, I reached out to a few people that I knew had worked with him, and I’ve included some of their memories of him below. Please feel free to add any thoughts about Bob in the comments section.
If you’d like to make a contribution in his memory, please send it to The Maryland SPCA, 3300 Falls Road, Baltimore, MD 21211. According to the funeral home, Sol Levinson & Bros. Inc. of Baltimore, Bob is survived by his parents, Charles and Irma (nee Silver) Margolis; his sister and brother-in-law, Beth and Michael Davis of Harrison, N.Y.; and two nieces, Lucy and Jenny Davis.
Brooke Southall, founder of RIABiz:
I liked Bob Margolis right away. He called one afternoon last May to introduce himself and to say that he wanted to write for RIABiz. In fact, he took it one step further and said that his dream would be to move to Sausalito and write for our publication full time. I’ve only known one other person to express that particular desire and it was me. Like I said, I liked Bob immediately.
In the phone call, he mentioned that he had worked for Reuters and that the news service had never really wanted to cover the advisory business the way he did. He proposed writing his first article for us about a conference based on the efforts of the NFL Players Association’s to screen advisors on behalf of its players. In 10 minutes it was becoming clear that he liked sports, liked the advisory business and liked writing about them both. It turns out he saw the advisory business the way a sportswriter sees football — as an exciting, dynamic spectacle filled with personalities and varying levels of talent. It’s something we shared.
It showed in the way he wrote. Bob quickly became our mainstay writer of Breakaway Stories. Each article debriefed an advisor from a wirehouse who turned independent. These events were not considered momentous enough by publications I formally worked for to merit coverage. I was determined that the tales could be written as nuggets of human aspiration that tell the story of the advisory industry’s growth in a microcosm. Bob immediately let me know that this did not need to be explained to him and wrote the stories with the energy, enthusiasm and sharp business angles that I had been hoping for. His articles got a big readership.
Bob thrived upon writing about athletes, advisors serving athletes, brokers becoming advisors and other expressions of the human spirit triumphing over the gray corporate work world. He fit right in at RIABiz, and we already feel his absence deeply.
Advisor Dorie Rosenband, &Wealth Management of New York City:
My heart breaks for his family who he often spoke so highly and humorously about.
When I think back to the times that we spoke, I felt that Bob was genuinely interested in and deeply cared about people. He spoke from the heart and didn’t hold back. Most of all, Bob had an honesty about him that revealed a soulful, passionate person. I will remember him with fondness.
Frank Pizzichillo, director of business development at MarketCounsel:
Bob and I shared two of the same passions, baseball and music. One time he called me and we talked about the Beatles White album for about 25 minutes and then he was about to hang up and he said, “Wait, I think I called you about something else but I forget now.” A genuinely nice and interesting guy. He will be missed.
Brian Hamburger, CEO of MarketCounsel:
I am so saddened by this news. Bob was a very special guy; seemingly scattered in his thoughts but focused on his passion. He was a real
friend of independent investment advisers.
Here are a links to a few of Bob’s breakaway stories, including the one about Dorie:
Mentioned in this article:
RIA Publication, Blog/Social Networking Tool
Top Executive: Brooke Southall
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