Few financial professionals could have seen the Covid-19 outbreak coming – but the co-founders of Tiedemann Advisors found themselves prepared nonetheless.

As the outbreak spread, Tiedemann Advisors found itself adjusting to the new work-from-home realities and adapting to embrace investment and planning opportunities for it’s high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth clients, said firm CEO Michael Tiedemann. Technology has been key to surviving the disruption, he explained.

“Everyone in our firm is healthy, and all of our clients are healthy, which is obviously very important,” said Tiedemann in a recent interview with Financial Advisor. “As a firm and for several years now, we have really been seeking out the best technology and implementing systems to allow us to work  from throughout the country. It’s been a big investment of ours across the firm. We’ve been able to operate without any issues remotely.”

Tiedemann said that the firm implemented technology to coordinate the firm’s efforts nationally and just internationally across its nine offices.

“In some ways we’re very accustomed to working apart from each other and collaborating on projects or client work,” said Tiedemann. “The investment was really to service our business in normal time, but boy are we feeling the cause and effects of that today. We feel like we’re getting paid back.”

Tiedemann Advisors was founded in 1999 as Tiedemann Trust Company by Michael Tiedemann’s father, Carl. The elder Tiedemann was founder of Tiedemann Investment Group, a multimanager hedge fund. With his son and Craig Smith, a trust and estate lawyer at J.P. Morgan & Co., as partners, Tiedemann Trust sought to create an open architecture firm with a flexible investment model. The firm’s advisory arm began operations in January 2008.

Tiedemann Advisors has grown into one of the largest privately held wealth managers in the U.S. as the firm’s leadership was transferred into the hands of Smith and the younger Tiedemann in 2012, with a few strategic acquisitions and partnerships serving as catalysts. The firm now has $22 billion in assets under advisement and $17 billion AUM, with offices in San Francisco; Portland, Ore.; Aspen, Colo,; Dallas; Wilmington, Del.; Seattle; Palm Beach, Fla.; Bethesda, Md.; and New York.

As Tiedemann’s president, Smith oversees strategy, advisors and the client experience.

“At first, when it was starting to look serious, our first focus was on our employees – we focused internally,” Smith said of the firm's response to the pandemic. “We wanted to make sure we could operate fully, that each person had the systems and technology to work remotely so that there would be no differences between different employees.”

Among Smith’s first tasks were to ensure employees and clients that Tiedemann itself would be able to weather the pandemic.

“We’re really trying to understand their anxiety right now in general, about health, about what the world will look like when this crisis ends,” said Tiedemann. “The last thing we need employees to feel is any anxiety about their status in our firm. We always have discipline. We can cover our balance sheet, we have very good financials, and we do that so we can survive at times like this.”

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