July 2020

#CoffeeBreakWithCanter: Michael Tiedemann, Tiedemann Advisors | LinkedIn

#CoffeeBreakWithCanter: Michael Tiedemann, Tiedemann Advisors

Published on July 17, 2020 | David Canter, Executive Vice President, Head of the Registered Investment Advisor Segment, Fidelity Institutional

Impact has many meanings in our industry and one of the firms sitting at the intersection of these is Tiedemann Advisors. CEO Michael Tiedemann joined me for a #CoffeeBreakWithCanter to talk about impact – how his firm thinks about making an impact in the community, trends shaping impact investing, and how to build a sustainable firm that provides impact for clients across generations.

People and companies are stepping up to help out communities in need during the COVID-19 pandemic. Can you share some of the ways that Tiedemann and its employees have been responding and making an impact?

At Tiedemann, we have always been committed to creating a positive impact in our communities by giving some of our time, money, or the power of our voice. No doubt that this pandemic created an unprecedented need to step up that commitment. The firm has always had a charitable budget, which we increased a few years ago. In the past, we’ve used this budget for relief and recovery efforts, like after Hurricane Harvey or the Northern California fires. Now we’re focused on helping those most drastically affected by the coronavirus pandemic. On a personal level, I am Chair of the Board at the River Fund, one of the largest front-line poverty centers in New York City, and have helped them raised funds over to keep the organization 100% operational during these difficult times when so many people need assistance and support. Many of our employees also donated to causes that are dear to them and the firm offers to match all employee charitable contributions.

Thinking about impact in a broader sense, one of the themes that your firms uses as a lens is financial wellness, and that’s something that we’re very interested in at Fidelity, too. Can you share how Tiedemann thinks about that wellness theme?

This theme is rooted in the belief that empowering households and small businesses can create more resilient communities and economies. On a global scale, the lives of the underserved can be dramatically improved by investments that democratize access to essential services such as affordable loans and education. Things like financial technology can play a big role. Domestically, we believe that affordable housing is key to improving long-term outcomes for households, particularly as the growth in urban population is reducing affordability in many cities.

We also believe the support of smaller businesses is essential to improving economic growth and prosperity. It’s about community reinvestment, creating jobs, building infrastructure and schools, and expanding social programs, among other things. So, when we think about financial wellness it’s broader than some other industry definitions of financial wellness.

Do you think the current pandemic is going to shape the way investors think about impact investing in years to come?

Absolutely. We’re already seeing an increase in ESG/impact investing during the current pandemic and expect to see these trends continue, perhaps fundamentally re-shaping the way investors consider risk, return, and the purpose of capital.

Another force that will shape impact investing for years to come – the need to address inequities in our world. We’re seeing investors turn to impact investing as an important way to express both social values and social equity. As a firm, we added an equity lens because of this evolution from social responsibility toward social justice. Investors are increasingly looking to put capital to work backing innovative solutions that address many of our societal challenges and contribute to a more equitable and just system of access to, use of, and benefit from the capital markets.

One of your firm’s principles is permanence. At Fidelity, we spend a lot of time thinking about that sustainability quotient too. Can you share some of your firm’s best practices around firm sustainability?

We’ve built our firm for sustainability and continuous stewardship of family, financial and philanthropic legacies. Permanence is very important to us because it reassures clients that we will be there for them, their children and their children’s children, for as long as they want our guidance. We believe building a permanent firm requires us to conservatively manage our balance sheet and continually invest in our employees and our infrastructure.

For years, Tiedemann has been committed to substantial investments into its technology, operating systems and partnerships with its vendors that are vital during a disrupted time such as this. Additionally, as our firm has grown and increased its geographic footprint with nine offices and team members spread across the nation and even in Europe, we have been diligent in our efforts to fully integrate all of our systems, workflows and colleagues to be able to serve clients with the same level of excellence across the board. Because of these investments into technology preparedness, connectedness and standardization, we are, and have been, fully operational across all aspects of our firm’s functions and the firm-wide change in working remotely has had no effect on our ability to continue business as usual.

Anything you wish you were asked or any final words of wisdom you’d like to leave readers with?

The COVID-19 pandemic is a public health and humanitarian crisis with profound consequences that transcend financial markets. Our thoughts are with those who have been most directly affected by the disease and the measures required to slow its spread. As a firm and as individuals, we hope to do our share to support those that need it most during these difficult times. We are all in this together.


Read the article on LinkedIn here.

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