Bob Hord Jr. was working hard during his senior year of pre-med studies at Rice University in 1973 when tragedy struck. During a routine experiment for his major, a lab accident sparked a flash fire that caused second-degree burns over half of his body.

“I like to be a problem solver. I like to see how things work and run them more efficiently," Bob Hord Jr., chief operating officer of Oppenheimer says. Image: Bob Hord
“I like to be a problem solver. I like to see how things work and run them more efficiently," Bob Hord Jr., chief operating officer of Oppenheimer says. Image: Bob Hord

Hord spent the second half of his final year recuperating in a burn unit, unable to continue his studies. Rather than while away the time he needed to rest before reapplying to medical school, Hord opted to pursue a masters degree in healthcare administration at a nearby school.

It was around that same time that he inherited money from a relative, which he invested blindly and lost out. Despite his losses, Hord said he was bitten by the finance bug and decided to enter a training program at Merrill Lynch in 1976.

A half dozen years later he signed up with Oppenheimer, where he continues until now as chief operating officer of the private client division. Hord finds the work satisfying for because it allows for adviser inclusion and collaboration.

“I like to be a problem solver,” he says. “I like to see how things work and run them more efficiently.”

Lately, that has meant tapping into the needs and wish lists of many advisers and seeking ways to make work easier for them. Even for something as simple as dropping a two signature requirement from a business form. Staffers expressed concern about the requirement, and with input from management, it was decided that one signature sufficed.

“Everyone feels they have a voice,” he says. “They have ownership of it and recognition for having come up with the idea.”

In addition to allowing the staff freedom to sound off about their concerns, Hord reaches out to younger members and mentors them. Traveling outside of New York to field offices helps to remind him where he came from. “The longer I’m in New York, the quicker I forget what it was like,” he said. “[I don’t want to] lose sight of what goes on and what it's like on a day-to-day basis.”

These days, the 63-year-old father of three adult children who enjoys flying planes in his spare time looks back fondly on the way his life has changed over the years.

“If I could tell my younger self anything, it would be that life is a happy accident,” he said. “Go with your gut, trust in yourself and give it all you got.”