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Five Questions With Ben Sullivan

Five Questions With: Benjamin C. Sullivan, Chief Investment Officer and Senior Client Service Manager

Benjamin C. Sullivan, CFP®, CVA, EA, is extensively involved throughout the firm’s asset management, personal financial planning, tax and valuation practices. As chief investment officer and chairman of the firm’s investment committee, he leads a team of portfolio managers who oversee more than $1.5 billion in client assets. A native of East Hanover, New Jersey, Ben joined the Palisades Hudson staff in early 2007 in the firm’s Northeast office and became a manager in 2010. In 2016, he established the firm’s branch office in Austin, Texas, where he currently resides.

1. What’s one place in your city you’d suggest to an out-of-town visitor?

I feel so limited just giving one suggestion in a city that offers so much, so please reach out to me if you’re ever in town for the rest of my favorites. When I think of Austin, I think of great food, and our most quintessential foods are tacos and barbecue brisket. Franklin Barbecue has arguably the best brisket in town, but the multi-hour waits are no way to spend a visit. I recommend that visitors mosey on down to Terry Black’s and try some delicious barbecue with only a brief wait.

cat lying on its back.
Bruno; photo courtesy Ben Sullivan

2. If you have a pet, what kind? What is their name and how long have you had them?

We have an adorable snowshoe cat named Bruno who loves sleeping on my chest and attempting to disrupt video calls. A relative found him as a kitten roaming near a cabin in the woods of New Mexico in August 2020. Given that it was the middle of the pandemic, I lacked the willpower to say no.

3. What’s your favorite thing about your work at Palisades Hudson?

The relationships. It’s truly a privilege to get to know my clients on such a deep level. Money is a taboo topic throughout so much of society, but I’m able to probe into important areas that my clients rarely have a chance to talk about. These meaningful conversations wind up leading to planning opportunities, and result in me knowing more about clients than most of their friends or family members do. While it’s a relationship that began from business, it often transcends that realm.

4. What’s the most interesting thing you’ve read recently?

Soul Boom: Why We Need a Spiritual Revolution” by Rainn Wilson. I stumbled upon the audiobook on my library’s app and was skeptical about whether Dwight Schrute from “The Office” would have anything profound to say. It turned out that the book articulates and expands on thoughts that I’ve been having for a while. Many in society have been quick to toss out religion, but are left with something missing in their lives. Wilson encourages people to embrace spirituality, and he considers how doing so could mitigate several of the challenges we face as a society. He’s able to do so with humor and without espousing one specific way of thinking.

Ben Sullivan and family in Austin.
Ben Sullivan and family; photo courtesy Ben Sullivan

5. What’s a piece of advice you’ve received that mattered to you?

The one that comes to mind was when I was trying to decide whether I wanted to move to Austin. I spoke with a friend who has never worked in a traditional career and who tends to think outside of the box. He pointed out that if I didn’t like the move, I could always reverse the decision. I recognized that he was right and gave it a shot, and I am very glad I did. I’ve come to realize that this is what Jeff Bezos refers to as a “two-way door decision,” which can be made quickly due to its reversibility.

Senior Client Service Manager and Chief Investment Officer Benjamin C. Sullivan, who is based in our Austin, Texas office, contributed several chapters to our firm’s recently updated book, The High Achiever’s Guide To Wealth, including Chapter 5, “Investments: Fundamentals, Techniques And Psychology,” and Chapter 14, “Employment Contracts.” He was also among the authors of the firm’s book Looking Ahead: Life, Family, Wealth and Business After 55.