Barry Siegel Reflects on Rewarding Career and Philanthropic Efforts

·8-min read

If Barry Siegel’s face seems strangely familiar, it’s probably because he can often be seen on telecasts of Dodgers home games, in the front row behind home plate, right next to former “Entertainment Tonight” host Mary Hart.

Siegel is not what most would consider a celebrity. He is, however, something of a legend in industry circles for his work as a business manager. The senior managing director of Provident Financial Management boasts a stellar client roster that includes actors Al Pacino and Elijah Wood, writer-director-producer Mike Judge (“Silicon Valley,” “King of the Hill”), Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright David Mamet, Tony Award-winning theater director Des McAnuff (“The Who’s Tommy,” “Jersey Boys”) and pro skateboarder-turned-reality TV host/producer Rob Dyrdek (“Ridiculousness”). And that’s not to mention music acts including Air Supply and Frankie Valli and the Four Seasons, both of whom have been clients for decades.

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It’s for this long and illustrious career, stretching back to 1972, that Siegel will receive this year’s Variety Business Managers Elite Honoree award at a virtual breakfast celebration Nov. 18.

As proud as Siegel is of his clients and the level of service he provides them, he is equally proud of his employees, whom he has mentored and nurtured over the decades, helping several rise through the ranks to become managing directors of the company.

“Our employees are generally extremely loyal and we consider everybody part of the family,” Siegel says. “Our average employee now has been with us for over 15 years, and many have been with us since we started the firm.”

Growing up, Siegel had a drum kit and dreams of being in a band, but felt he had no talent for music, so he decided the only way he could get into the entertainment industry was on the business side. While in college, he built his fledgling financial chops working for a brokerage house and as an auditor for Sunkist. After earning his B.S. in business administration from Woodbury University and taking the CPA exam (“I was very lucky to have passed it,” Siegel says), he got a job with Gelfand, Rennert & Feldman (GRF), which had just moved from New York to Los Angeles, and fulfilled the experience requirement to get his CPA license.

Siegel quickly made partner at GRF and was sent up to San Francisco to open a satellite office for the firm in 1975. Several of his first clients — including Carlos Santana (who was with Siegel for 20 years) and the late Eddie Money — were referred to him by legendary Bay Area concert promoter Bill Graham, who went on to become something of a mentor for Siegel.

“He basically helped me build the business up there,” says Siegel of Graham, who died in a helicopter crash in 1991.

Siegel made an even more important connection during his San Francisco years: longtime business partner Bill Vuylsteke, whom he recruited to join GRF at a job fair at UC Berkeley, where Vuylsteke was a student at the time.

“He was very personable and probably one of the smartest guys I’ve ever met,” says Siegel of fellow Provident senior managing director Vuylsteke, whose clients include musicians Green Day, Weezer, Sheryl Crow and Shakira, actor Lucy Liu and talent manager Guy Oseary. “He really understood what it was that we were trying to do, which is protect artists who have a real talent on the artistic side, but not necessarily from a business perspective. And I think that’s really what has made our business grow like it has.”

Siegel returned to Los Angeles in 1980, and two years later he left GRF to co-found the business management firm Siegel & Feldstein, which went on to add Vuylsteke as a partner and eventually change its name to Provident Financial Management. In 1997, they sold the business to American Express, which at the time was acquiring major accounting firms throughout the United States. Provident was the sole business management firm it acquired.

In 2011, “they decided to get out of the accounting business altogether, which was probably a smart thing for them, and we bought the business back,” Siegel says. “But we actually enjoyed our time with American Express. They were very good to us and very good business partners.”

Today, Provident has satellite offices in San Francisco and Nashville, run by Joan “Joni” Soekotjo and Dawn Nepp, respectively, and its Los Angeles team is split between offices in Woodland Hills and Santa Monica.

“We had a large office in Santa Monica and it became very difficult when our lease came due and Snapchat came in and took the entire building,” recalls Siegel. “We had to make a move and we decided that because we had so many people on the staff that lived in the [San Fernando] Valley, we would split it in two and have an office in Woodland Hills and another office in Santa Monica, so we would help our people cut down on their commutes.”

When the pandemic lockdown hit in March 2020, Provident immediately went out and bought duplicate office equipment for its employees so they could work from home. More than a year and a half later, the operation is still work-from-home, save for a few administrative people who go in to retrieve the mail and take care of other essential office operations, and a handful of account managers who feel more comfortable working in the office, all of whom must be vaccinated and wear masks.

The pandemic was also a tough time for many of Provident’s clients, who were affected by production stoppages and the complete shutdown of the live touring business. Siegel and his team stepped up, helping them secure PPP loans and facilitating the sales of portions of their music catalogs, when needed.

“It was enough to keep everybody going, and we had no client that was so hurt by the pandemic that they had to change their lifestyle,” says Siegel.

Siegel has been working from his office in the Hermosa Beach, Calif., home he shares with his wife, Pattie. His glass-topped desk with a base made of eight bats and some 40 balls — a gift from Air Supply lead singer Russell Hitchcock — is a testament to his love of baseball. When he was growing up in Pasadena, his father would often pick him up from school and drive him down to the newly built Dodger Stadium to catch the last few innings of a game. Today, he’s a Dodgers season ticketholder of long standing. He likes to get to the ballpark as early as possible to watch batting practice and warmups, but he admits he has a bad habit of leaving the game early. “I hate the traffic getting out of there. It drives me nuts,” he says.

When Siegel can’t attend Dodger home games, he often donates his tickets to charity, and for the past 20 years he has also arranged for kids from boys and girls clubs in Los Angeles to come see the matches.

“We belong to the Dugout Club, so when we give our tickets away, it’s a full meal and it’s all the food you can eat,” he says.

Siegel’s philanthropic efforts extend beyond the gifting of Dodger tickets. He sits on the board of governors of the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and is on the emeritus board of directors of the L.A. Regional Food Bank, which distributes 1 million pounds of food per week to people in need.

The business manager is also CFO of the Sidewalk Angels, a charity run by client Rob Thomas (former lead singer of Matchbox 20) and his wife, Marisol, that supports more than 20 no-kill shelters and animal rescues in the United States, Mexico, the Caribbean and Serbia. It works with homeless shelters to make sure that unhoused people don’t have to give up their pets.

“I’m a big believer that we have to give back,” Siegel says. “If you don’t have the time, there are other things that you can do. Every year, the firm takes suggestions from our staff for different charitable endeavors to push.”

In the past, those charities have included the Silverlake Conservatory of Music, the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and Upward Bound. Provident also works with Good Today, an organization that allows employees to choose a charity a day from its website. The firm contributes 25 cents a day to each one, which adds up to about $10,000 a year.

In addition to his work with his firm and various charities, Siegel has also served on the advisory board of investment bank Park Lane, providing consulting services to sports teams and businesses, and the board of directors of CORE Media Group.

Siegel is well aware that next year will mark his 50th anniversary in the business (“And that’s really difficult because I’m only 60,” he jokes). But he has no intention of retiring anytime soon.

“I don’t know what I would do with my time,” says Siegel. “I love my family and my staff, and that’s it.”

And, he might add, the Dodgers.

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