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How Eric W. Bennett Leads Big

Tolleson Wealth Management’s Chief Investment Officer talks leadership, learning, and that one time he decided to run a brain institute.
By D Partner Studio |
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Meet Eric W. Bennett, Tolleson Wealth Management’s Chief Investment Officer, who first started with the firm at its inception in 1997.

After working together previously, John Tolleson approached Bennett to help build his single-family office. Initially serving as Chief Financial Officer, Bennett transitioned to CEO when Tolleson Wealth Management became a multi-family office in 2000 to serve ultra-high net worth clients with all things financial.

“I had no real experience being a leader when I was 35,” says Bennett. “I never thought I would be a leader. I didn’t walk into a room and command attention.”

Crediting John Tolleson as his mentor and one of the sharpest businesspeople he’s ever worked with, Bennett says he didn’t hesitate to ask a lot of questions. He believes the best way to learn and position yourself for success is by embracing the growing pains and being unafraid to find your purpose. “Leadership skills will transfer into whatever you do,” he says.

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In the prime of his wealth management career, Bennett chose to do a complete 180 and run a brain institute. After serving on the board at the Center for BrainHealth for several years, Bennett recognized its need for a business plan and funding. Already deeply passionate about the organization and its mission, he stepped up to the plate.

“I had an ah-hah moment and decided life’s too short. It was a great opportunity, and for once, my kids thought I was doing something cool.” He worked at the Center for BrainHealth for almost four years as its founding Executive Director before returning to Tolleson as Chief Investment Officer in 2016.

How has Bennett merged his passion for brain health with investing? “I left the Center for BrainHealth feeling like there was a very compelling investment opportunity in healthcare, so we spent a lot of time doing research on it. Since I’ve been back at Tolleson, particularly in the last two years, we’ve made more healthcare-related investments.”

In his forward-thinking, Bennett has also taken time to point out the cognitive biases in our brains. “One of the first biases people have is anchoring, which is focusing on data and information that supports your first impression,” he explains. “Another cognitive flaw is recency bias, often resulting in short-term thinking. You have to step out and think long-term. Long-term investing is the number one edge you can have in investing. Ups and downs in the market are normal.”

Bennett runs an investment team of 12, citing curiosity and initiative as the primary attributes he looks for in each member.

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“If you’re not curious or don’t take initiative, you’re not going to like the team. Learning motivates me more than anything,” he says. “Being a culture fit is a huge part of success and growth at the firm. You can’t rely solely on technical skills.”

In his short Q&A, Bennett shares his advice, secret talent, and hopes for the future. 

Best Leadership Advice:
My job as a leader is not to give instruction. It’s to communicate a clear vision to my team and provide them with the tools and resources to grow in their positions.

Fun Fact:
I’m a wicked ping-pong player.

If you wrote a book, what would you title it?
“No Limits.”
I think everyone has potential and that your life’s purpose is to discover that potential and utilize it. If you feel like you have a limit, you’re making excuses.

Bucket List Item:
Traveling. I want to continue seeing the world. Until 2014, I had never used my passport.

What superpower you would choose and why:
More mindfulness. I don’t think it’s a superpower, but I think it’s a skill to be living in the present. I want the ability to be more present, mindful, kind, and consistent. You’re happier and more productive when you’re like that.

What you would be doing if you weren’t Chief Investment Officer:
Doing something that involves new brain discoveries. It’s what I’m passionate about.


Disclosures: This presentation has been compiled by Tolleson Wealth Management (“TWM”). This material has been prepared and is distributed solely for informational purposes only and is not a solicitation or an offer to buy a security or instrument or to participate in any trading strategy. This report may not be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted, in whole or part, by any means, without written permission from TWM.  If you have any questions regarding this presentation, please contact your TWM representative.

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