Roger Gershman ’86

RogerFor Roger Gershman ’86, founder and CEO of WealthGuard Inc., the most transformative experience of his life was the year he spent in Florence, Italy, as a student in Syracuse University’s College of Arts and Sciences. “I enjoyed immersing myself in the language, the culture, and the people,” Gershman says. “I came back a better student and a person with a new appreciation for our diversities. It was one of the best years of my life.”

As a freshman, he was fascinated by architecture, and for a time entertained the idea of following that career path. Instead, he entered the financial world, working for major investment banks and brokerage firms, including Hambrecht & Quist, JPMorgan, UBS, and Credit Suisse. In 2012, with 25 years of experience behind him, Gershman opened his own firm, which is focused solely on putting the interests of investors first. “As weekly headlines of broker and advisor malfeasance became the norm, I decided there needed to be a change,” he says. “So I founded WealthGuard to help investors ensure the products and services of Wall Street and their advisors are independently vetted for quality, performance, and fees.”

In an effort to share his experience and expertise with a wider audience, Gershman is writing a book, Confessions of a Financial Advisor. In it, he offers readers an insider’s look at the sales culture in the financial industry, including fee structures and conflicts of interest. Gershman is also creating an online service that rates, ranks, and monitors financial advisors, and performs background checks on them.

Gershman notes that his Syracuse University experience has been instrumental in his success. “SU ignited my desire to never stop learning, and taught me you need to have a strong work ethic in order to attain your goals,” he says. “At SU, I learned about a wide array of topics and was encouraged to seek knowledge in all forms. It was one of the building blocks that inspired me to work hard and create a successful business of my own.” Even those courses in architecture have been put to good use. “What I learned at SU gave me the core fundamentals to help me design and build several personal homes,” he says.

To maintain his SU connections, Gershman often participates in SU alumni events in the San Francisco area. “I especially enjoy connecting with fellow SU alums through sporting events, especially basketball tournaments,” he says. “It’s a fun way to keep in touch and rekindle our college days, as well as reinforce our sense of community and pride in our school.” To show his appreciation for all he learned at SU, Gershman has joined the Syracuse University Professional Advisor Network, which brings together professional individuals for learning, to promote philanthropy, and to help clients achieve their philanthropic goals. “I can provide independent oversight of investment advisors, to help donors give the most with their philanthropic gifts,” he says. “SU sparked many of my interests, such as travel, philosophy, astronomy, and finance, and I strongly believe in alumni giving back to the University so today’s students can have the same opportunities.”