Alumni spotlight: Bernard H. Robertson III

Bernard H. Robertson III, Karr Class of 1996
Posted on 07/31/2020
From playing offensive tackle in the NFL to founding one of the only financial services firms in the state and one of only a handful across the country that is owned by an African American, Karr alumnus Bernard H. Robertson III has been following his passions since graduating in 1996.

“I was literally there 13-15 hours a day,” he said. “I was involved in a lot: track and field, swim team, basketball team, French club, civics club. I tried to get my hands into any and everything that was available.”

But it was his time on the Karr football team that set Robertson on his career path.

“Being able to win the first state championship in the school’s history was exciting and a memorable experience,” he recalled, saying that his coaches from Karr remain his mentors to this day. “The character that was instilled in us early on carried us throughout our high school career and beyond.”

After graduation, Robertson attended Tulane where he studied sports medicine while playing football.

“I was a pre-med major. I wanted to be an orthopedist,” he said.

Several of his fellow Karr classmates, including Jerry Phillips, Noel Ellis, Deangelo Davis, and several others also attended Tulane and joined him on the grid iron.

“We looked at it as a challenge. When we attended Tulane, it had only had two wins in two seasons, and we thought we could be that defining factor that changed the tide and it became true,” he said.

The team won two games their Redshirt freshman year and seven their Redshirt sophomore year, which made them eligible to participate in a bowl game. However, the Tulane coach turned down the offer.

“That was the first time I wasn’t rewarded for winning. That did something to us. It made us hungrier,” he said. “That following year, we took out the frustration we experienced for not being rewarded with a bowl game the previous year on our opponents and went undefeated.”

“That was something we all hold on to and we are proud of. A lot of Karr students had a hand in that,” he said.

It was then that the NFL came calling. Just prior to graduating college, Robertson was drafted in the fifth round by the Chicago Bears, where he won the starting Left Tackle job for the Bears offense. Entering into his third year, he was traded to the Buffalo Bills. Following his time with

the Bills, he signed an unrestricted free agent contract with the Oakland Raiders where he finished out his football career.

“As a result of injury, I retired, but I was able to pick and choose the date and time that I did go out and that helped me start my career in financial services,” he said.

While playing for the NFL, he had a few internships with financial institutions that reinforced his love of investments and stock trading.

“My love of finance started early. My grandfather would try to preach to his grandkids that we had to have a sound knowledge of money, how money works and what we need to do with investing,” he recalled. “So around about the age of 8, he stopped giving us toys. Instead we got cash and we got shares of stock and we were taught how to read the money section of the newspaper to keep track of what’s going on with our money as well as the investments we own. It started a love and a passion than that just stuck with me throughout my life.”

Robertson returned to Tulane and graduated from Freeman School of Business with an MBA in May of 2016. He then went on to earn a second MBA with a concentration in small business and entrepreneurship from Babson College in the Fall of 2016.

“I wanted to turn that hobby into a career and I started working at a little firm named Legg Mason and that began my financial services career,” he said.

He is now co-founder of the Hackett Robertson Tobe Group, where he serves as vice president and director of the investment advisory side of the business as well as the Chief Compliance Officer.

“We provide financial services and investment advisory and consulting for individuals, municipalities and public funds,” he said. “I’ve been able to have ownership in my career as a principal in the firm. I take pride in that and look to extend those opportunities in this business to others like me, who come from where I come from, that want to get into this business but have experienced some roadblocks.”

Robertson said his time at Karr instilled valuable skills in him that helped him achieve the success he has.

One of the main lessons he learned was how to live up to expectations and how to set his own.

“I would say prior to coming to Karr, the expectations I had were always placed upon me by others, and you weren’t really encouraged to set your own. You were told this is what is expected of you,” he said. “When I got to Karr, it was something different. It was others that said you have to know what it is you want and what it is you are going to work toward, and you have to make those sacrifices to do it.”

He said it was those expectations that made Karr so special.

“Going to Karr means choosing to be part of a family,” he said. “It means you are coming into an atmosphere that has a lot of expectations and they are going to work you hard, but at the same time they’re going to show you a lot of love, a lot of support, and cheer for you every step of the way.”

Robertson said Karr has much to offer its students and he hopes that the current scholars are taking advantage of every aspect of what is offered.

“Be able to use every teacher, use every alumni as a resource to get to where you want to go,” he urged. “Take the effort and the time now to become close to those teachers and students. Don’t be afraid to reach out to either. To lean on your fellow student as if they were a blood relative, because ultimately when you do cross that stage and you do have diploma in hand, you will feel like you’re family for the rest of your lives.”