Firm History

Today, we’re a comprehensive advisor for the financial management needs of high-net-worth individuals, families, endowments and foundations. But we started as one man’s mission to do what his advisors couldn’t do for him.

How a small firm came to perform like a big one

Black-and-white headshot of Carl Tiedemann

Tiedemann Advisors was founded by Carl Tiedemann in 1999 as a trust company, originally known as Tiedemann Trust Company.

Carl had spent decades on Wall Street, as one of the founding partners who later rose to be President of Donaldson, Lufkin & Jenrette, a leading research and investment banking firm. Upon his departure in 1980, he founded Tiedemann Investment Group, a multi-manager hedge fund partnership which remains in business today and is one of the longest standing hedge fund firms.

All through this time, Carl dreamt of creating a company that provides clients two things that his family was unable to get from the trustees who managed the family’s wealth: an open-architecture and flexible investment model allowing for client input into how their wealth was invested, and freedom to fire a trustee and take their money elsewhere. Carl’s dream became a reality when he founded Tiedemann Trust Company. He structured the company to be aligned with clients, not with its own internal products or incentives. That meant no proprietary funds or in-house inventories of stocks or bonds, and no commissions. It was — and remains today — strictly fee-based, client-focused and objective.

In founding Tiedemann Trust Company, Carl invited his son, Michael, and Craig Smith to join him. Craig, who joined from J.P. Morgan & Company, had experience first as a trust and estate lawyer and then as a wealth advisor — enabling exactly the kind of wraparound service Carl wanted his firm’s clients to receive. Michael was most recently with Banco Garantia in Brazil, later acquired by Credit Suisse. His experience investing in volatile emerging markets proved helpful years later, in the lead-up to the financial crisis of 2007 and 2008, when the firm predicted widespread illiquidity and made pivotal decisions to reduce risk, protecting clients and their assets through the turmoil.

At the time Tiedemann was launched, most banks’ wealth management and trust departments relied on their own controlled money managers, which posed an embedded conflict. In contrast, Tiedemann Trust Company and the later branded Tiedemann Wealth Management would only allocate assets to independently owned money managers they could access globally. Today, the firm continues to use the open architecture approach across all asset classes. Additionally, Tiedemann Advisors performs its own internal strategy and valuation work, and leads one of the nation’s leading impact investing research efforts.

The trust company was established in Delaware, where the laws governing trust assets are flexible and enable tax efficiency. By expertly managing trust assets and being located in Delaware, Tiedemann could deliver great performance and tax efficiency to clients, as well as access to innovative trust structures and planning solutions. This fiduciary expertise has been essential to how the firm has serviced generations of families.

As time went on, the firm listened to its clients and added capacities accordingly. In 2016, Tiedemann merged with Presidio Capital Advisors, adding size and strength to its investment management offering and creating a broader national footprint. A year later, Tiedemann merged with Threshold Group, known for its impact investing expertise and work with large multi-generational families. Threshold was founded by George and Jane Russell in 1998 when George sold his global investment services firm known as Russell Investments. The Russell family remains a shareholder of Tiedemann.

Today, Tiedemann Advisors is a boutique-style firm with deep knowledge and expertise in a broad range of services including wealth planning and education, investment management, impact investing, and trust and estate services. All our services and expertise are complementary, so we can focus on what has mattered most to us since the beginning: our clients.

Let’s write the next chapter.

Now that you know where we come from, let’s find out where we can go. Together.

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