The Pittsburgh Foundation

Signature shiftAdvisor Profile: When a client family asked for help giving away wealth instead of building more, a financial advisor changed culture of his firm to embrace community foundation philanthropy.

Marc Tannenbaum says that over the last several years, investors have become more philanthropicallyminded. He helps build socially responsible portfolios that both benefit the client and fulfill their wishes to do good in their communities.

Deanna Garcia

By Deanna Garcia
Deanna Garcia is a communications officer at The Pittsburgh Foundation.

MARC L. TANNENBAUM is an accomplished financial advisor who has Chartered Financial Consultant, Charted Life Underwriter and Accredited Investment Fiduciary certifications. In fact, he has been so successful that he is now principal and president of Signature Financial Planning, the firm he was hired into as marketing director back in 2000.

But if you had tapped Tannenbaum on the shoulder a few years before that as he worked the sales desk of his father’s janitorial maintenance company and told him his path to career fulfillment would be financial advising and helping his clients be more charitable, you would have gotten a blank stare.

He was trying to figure out how to make use of a psychology degree from Duquesne University when he landed the job at Signature. “I just fell in love with working there,” says Tannenbaum. “I loved what the firm was doing — the degree to which we were able to help people realize their financial goals — so I decided to get the credentials to become a financial advisor.”

In his nearly 20 years with the firm — training first as a junior advisor under the guidance of founder Stephen Tobe, then teaming with Tobe’s son, Scott, to manage clients, and then moving up to partner and president by last year — the focus has always been on working with clients to build their personal wealth.

But a new dimension of the firm’s mission opened when Tannenbaum began working with Marty and Molly Price and their three adult children in 2007. Suddenly, Signature Financial Planning was being asked for expert advice on spending personal wealth for social good, rather than amassing more for the sake of it. (Read more about the Price family)

And one of the first places they visited to learn more about how to achieve their clients’ philanthropic goals was The Pittsburgh Foundation.

“The Prices were really the first clients we worked with who were so engaged philanthropically,” he says. “It was a big shift for us. We didn’t really know what that would look like, but we wanted to ensure everything was done right.”  The Prices’ determination to engage directly in philanthropy to achieve social change pushed Signature to “pivot toward more philanthropic and charitable endeavors,” says Tannenbaum.

It might sound cliché to
say ‘I enjoy helping people,’
but I do, I’m a relationships
person. There is no other
career where you get to
know people, know every
aspect of their lives and have
such a deep understanding
of their goals.”

Among Signature’s recommendations was to meet with Development and Donor Services staff at The Pittsburgh Foundation to learn about the donor-advised fund program and how that might be the efficient and effective method they were looking for to manage their charitable giving. After several meetings, the family was sold on the idea, and in 2012, the Price children established The Mollie S. and Martin B. Price Family Fund.

Tannenbaum says the philanthropic advising experience deepened his relationship with the Prices who were active advisors on the fund for several years — the family lost Marty in 2016, and Mollie died last year. Their trust and confidence in him now extends to the couple’s children and grandchildren.

“Multi-generational planning is the perfect legacy for the Prices,” says Tannenbaum. “They were very interested in their financial means doing something useful for their family, the community and the world.” Working with the family and partnering with The Pittsburgh Foundation gave Signature more tools to serve their clients, including educating people who want to be philanthropic but don’t know where or how to begin.

“It’s not about one client, it’s about helping entire families,” he says. “We are a professional organization and we strive to have a familial atmosphere both for Signature employees and for all of our clients.”

Original story appeared in the Forum Quarterly Summer 2019.