“What a memory he has left.”
That's what no less a figure than Paul Volcker, former chairman of the Federal Reserve, said about Peter L. Bernstein at a Sept. 15 memorial service in New York.
And like Peter — despite his advanced years, everyone called him by his first name — the service was witty, insightful and provocative. Peter was remembered for his sage advice, his writings, his humility, his friendships — some lasting eight decades — and his love of family, especially his wife and business partner, Barbara Bernstein. In one tribute, Charley Ellis, founder of Greenwich Associates, called Peter “a true mensch.”
Many luminaries of the investment world came to honor Peter's memory. Among them: Morgan Stanley's Martin Leibowitz; Batterymarch founder Dean LeBaron; Ted Aronson of Aronson + Johnson + Ortiz; former BP America pension fund executive Marvin Damsma; former TIAA-CREF chief John H. Biggs; Laurence Siegel and Linda Strumpf, who both are retiring from the Ford Foundation this year; Bruce Jacobs of Jacobs & Levy; AQR's Cliff Asness; high-yield guru Marty Fridson; Blackstone's Byron Wien; and former CFA Institute chief Jeff Diermeier.
Peter was remembered as the godfather of risk and the historian of modern finance, displayed in two of his books, “Capital Ideas” and “Against the Gods.” At the Journal of Portfolio Management, which he founded in 1974, he was the erudite editor who improved the work of some of the biggest thinkers in finance.
At a time when most think of retirement, Peter was going full steam. As Research Affiliates' Rob Arnott noted, Peter wrote five books when he was past age 75.
All that and humble, too. Peter Brodsky, Peter's grandson, noted, his grandfather said two things that are “never said today: "I was wrong' and "I don't know.'”
There will never be another Peter.