December 2019 Member Spotlight – Michael Rubenstein

Michael Rubenstein is a Southwest Florida native who received his JD and MBA from the University of Miami. Rubenstein was featured in Gulfshore Business Top 40 Under 40 for 2019. He is currently the Wealth Director at BNY Mellon Wealth Management of Naples.

YP: Did you grow up in Southwest Florida? If not, where did you grow up and why did you move to Naples?

MR: I grew up in Fort Myers. I moved here when I was 3, in 1989, attended Canterbury School K-12, and left to attend Vanderbilt University for my undergraduate degree in 2005. After college, I received my JD/MBA at the University of Miami, worked in Palm Beach for 5 years, and then received a job offer to return to Naples, and I took it! Growing up in SWFL, I wanted to get out and never return. After experiencing some different cities (Nashville, Miami, and Palm Beach) and having kids, I was excited and eager to get back!

YP: Would you consider yourself a rising star in a business?

MR: I am a rising star at BNY Mellon Wealth Management.

YP: What was your professional journey like to get to where you are today?

MR: My journey started during my JD/MBA program at the University of Miami. During my 2L summer [second year of study in the JD program], I knew my path was trending in the direction of Tax/Trust and Estate Law and Finance. As such, I sent my resume out to many Trust and Estate law firms and wealth management firms/banks. I received a few job offers, but the one I chose was a multi-family office called Bessemer Trust. I interned in the Naples office of Bessemer my 2L summer, worked in the Miami office during my 3L year, 3L summer, and the last semester of the JD/MBA program, and then received my first full-time job offer in the Palm Beach office of Bessemer and away I went.

YP: Along your path, how have you distinguished yourself as a business leader?

MR: The first time I realized that I could be a leader, was at Bessemer, when I was chosen, out of all the Associate Client Advisers nationwide, to Chair the 2014-2015 Client Advisor Council. We presented in front of the executive committee and the entire firm. This was really the first time I saw my potential as a potential future leader, and for that I am forever grateful. During my time at Bessemer, I also took and passed Level 1 of the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) examination.

It was never my goal to establish myself as a business leader. I just try every day to get involved, help my clients, and help the Naples community anyway I can.

YP: You mentioned you eventually returned to Naples. How did the business transition occur?

MR: I was then offered the position of Trust and Estate Settlement Officer at SunTrust Private Wealth, an offer that I could not refuse, and I took it. During my time at SunTrust, I received my Certified Trust and Financial Advisor (CTFA) designation.

During my time at SunTrust, I had a craving to keep growing and learning. Being a practicing attorney was a goal of mine, and that is when I made the move back to Naples and, for the first time, into law, at Akerman LLP. During my time at Akerman, I also received my LLM in Tax from Villanova University. After 2 years at Akerman, I was ready to move back to the financial side of the industry to BNY Mellon Wealth Management, where I am today.

YP: What resources or experiences helped shape your professional development?

MR: Every experience was useful and made me the well-rounded wealth director I am today. Looking back, I would not change a thing.

My most important resources have been my family and mentors. My family pushed me to be the best version of myself. I want to be a good role model to my kids, and I want them to see their Dad work hard and do the right things. My mentors have been invaluable to my career growth as well. I could name so many along the way, but their guidance and support have made me the person and businessman I am today.

YP: What is the best piece of advice you have received as a rising professional?

MR: The best advice I received is to “establish a reputation of excellent and then live by it.” As I grew in the business world and learned from my many mentors, I realized that everything you do is important, so don’t take any tasks lightly.

YP: What advice would you give to others who might be starting out on a similar path?

MR: My best advice to offer to another young professional would be to pick a career they find fulfilling and go for it. Be curious, ask questions, learn as much as possible, be true to yourself, and always do what you think is right.

YP: Where do you see yourself in ten years?

MR: As boring as it sounds, in 10 years, I hope to still be at BNY Mellon in Naples. I love my job and my company. I think it’s the perfect fit and I hope to continue along my path, but one day go from “rising star”, to just “star”. I also would like to get more involved in the community and help Naples grow.

YP: How have you given back to the community that has supported your success? What involvement have you had with charitable organizations?

MR: I am currently on the Board of the Ronald McDonald House Charities of SWFL and Canterbury School of Fort Myers (my alma mater), where I am also President of the Alumni Board. I am on the Executive Committee of the Attorney and Trust Officer (ATO) Liaison Conference for the RPPTL Section of the Florida Bar, the Chair of the Young Families with Children Group at the Jewish Federation of Greater Naples. I serve on the Collier County Housing Finance Authority. I am also a former Board Member and Governance Chair with the Children’s Museum of Naples (CMON).

My other involvement includes membership in the Lee County Bar Association, the Collier County Bar Association, the Artis-Naples NextGen 5833, and the Jewish Federation of Greater Naples. I am a member of the GAIN Class of 2019 and continue to stay involved with various Leadership Collier committees.

I also support many organizations via donations, sponsorship, hosting events, or attending events, such as the Naples Children and Education Foundation (NCEF), STARability, Naples Therapeutic Riding Center, Kinds Minds Matter, David Lawrence Center, NAMI, and Community School of Naples.

YP: How has your involvement with non-profits affected your outlook on business?

MR: It has been nice to get to know other business leaders and work with and learn from them. The more you surround yourself with smart people, the more you grow as a businessman and individual. I tend to pick their brains, listen to their ways of thinking, and learn as much as I can from everyone I meet.

YP: Based on your experience, what role do non-profits play in the modern economy and in the well-being of Southwest Florida?

MR: Non-profits are extremely important in the modern economy and SWFL. There are so many good causes, the problem is there are never enough and there in not enough time to support them all.

YP: What causes are most important to you?

MR: My main causes have boiled down to (1) Autism, (2) Children’s Mental and Physical Health, (3) Education (traditional and the arts), and (4) Judaism. I feel I provide a valuable voice in all of these areas, especially since I grew up in SWFL and care about the causes and community deeply. Also, being a millennial, I feel I provide a voice for the next generation of citizens and can add to the conversation my perspective.

YP: Why has it been important to you to be involved in non-profit organizations in SWFL?

MR: It is important for me to be involved in non-profits because this is my home. I grew up here. It’s my favorite place in the world. I want to see it grow and thrive.

The community has come a long way since when I was here from 1988-2005. The leaders of the community at that time took SWFL and improved upon it. They left SWFL a better place than when they arrived, and we all are currently reaping the benefits of their hard work. It is my goal to do the same. I want the next child with Autism to have better resources and options than were available to my 4-year old, Autistic son. I want the next generation of children to have better resources in the fields of education and health (mental and physical) than I had when growing up here, and my kids have now. I want the next generation of Jewish children to see a larger, more engaged, and thriving Jewish community, like I have seen from the time I grew up to now. These are the things that are important to me, and I want to help in their continual improvement. I also want others to find their causes and do the same. With everyone separately working on the causes they believe in, we can collectively help the entire community flourish.