Jamie Eisner – Hirtle, Callaghan & Co.
Jamie Eisner has provided expert legal advice and counsel in investment management and securities law and has overseen compliance with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission for the breadth of his legal career.
Who he’s doing this for as general counsel of Hirtle, Callaghan & Co. gives his work resonance, he says.
“We’re managing money for nonprofits whose work is essential to their communities and who are a vital part of the social fabric, as well as charitably minded families,” Eisner says.
Hirtle, Callaghan & Co. was founded in 1988 to implement its pioneering “outsourced chief investment officer” model. Eisner says co-founder Jonathan Hirtle had served as a vice president at Goldman, Sachs & Co. for six years and became concerned with conflicts of interest in advising family groups and institutions on investing in products beholden to a single firm.
So, Hirtle (who’s now executive chairman) co-founded the firm to provide investment opportunities and guidance that weren’t tied to a particular firm. As an independent investment office, Hirtle Callaghan also guides asset allocation, can incorporate financial planning and always considers taxes as part of its role.
Stewards of capital
Headquartered in West Conshohocken, Pennsylvania, just outside Philadelphia, Hirtle Callaghan also has offices in Chicago, Cleveland, Denver, Houston, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh and Scottsdale, Arizona.
Eisner says clients are almost evenly split between nonprofits, foundations and charitable groups, and families of means. While Hirtle Callaghan works with clients with assets from $10 million to more than $1 billion and has about $18 billion in assets under management, Eisner says that’s more about alignment of philosophy than size.
“We’re stewards of capital,” he says. “We work with clients and try to ensure their capital best supports their missions.”
Hirtle Callaghan is a registered investment adviser with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, so Eisner’s work is heavily focused on SEC compliance as he works with Chief Compliance Officer Umar Ehtisham and Colette Bergman, who leads custody and investment operations.
Eisner also co-chairs the firm’s risk policy committee, which is responsible for operational due diligence and provides legal, compliance and risk oversight of investments, independent from the firm’s investments committee. He says the two committees have collaborated more closely throughout the diligence process, making the approval process for new investments more efficient.
Know your client
Understanding Hirtle Callaghan’s clients, as well as the investments the firm is making, is crucial to Eisner’s work. For example, a client’s risk tolerance is crucial in determining what investments best suit them, as is limiting tax liabilities.
“You need to know and understand the big picture before putting the money to work,” Eisner says.
For clients with long-term outlooks, Hirtle Callaghan may use “illiquid” investments, because while those investments in areas such as private equity, venture capital and private credit, may not offer short-term liquidity, many clients have enough capital on hand to meet immediate financial obligations.
“Private markets have historically generated higher returns than more liquid publicly traded stocks and bonds, which is an advantage for those nonprofits and families who can invest in them,” Eisner says.
Eisner says another opportunity he’s helped the leadership team address is how Hirtle Callaghan can continue to attract and retain the best talent. That effort has included developing different types of equity and other long-term compensation for senior employees.
He also works with Hirtle Callaghan’s IT team on cybersecurity and privacy protection, another recent area of SEC focus, to help protect hardware, software and the network infrastructure. That includes being certain that Hirtle Callaghan’s vendors, including accounting firms, custodian banks and tax advisers, have strong compliance cultures and are secure in their operations. Because the firm is expanding globally, Eisner also needs to be certain it’s complying with laws and regulations around the world.
“I think, in general, that C-suites are becoming more conscious of risk management. It’s not just the legal and compliance departments,” Eisner says. “Protecting privacy, safeguarding assets and thinking about the next risk around the corner is a big part of what my leadership team and I do.”
Part of the family
As Eisner grew up in Manhattan, he says he considered, but was uncertain about becoming an attorney. After earning his bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Virginia in 1995, the question arose about how he could apply his skills and round out his education.
So, Eisner decided to attend law school—and loved it. He earned his J.D. from Duke University School of Law in 1998. From September 1998 to December 2005, he worked in private practice, first as an associate with Brown & Wood LLP and then with Weil Gotshal & Manges LLP.
Then Eisner was presented with a unique opportunity to serve as in-house counsel for Golden Arc Inc., a family office being formed by a tech entrepreneur. He says he was recruited because of his background in M&A.
“The family wanted to make direct investments, and I enjoyed having a close seat at the table with them,” Eisner says.
Although he was uncertain of how his role would develop, he saw it as an opportunity he could not pass up and joined in January 2006.
His work encompassed the corporate and securities areas he’d practiced. His responsibilities covered all legal aspects of the firm’s investment portfolio, including direct private equity and real estate investments, private equity funds, hedge funds, equities and fixed income.
Eisner also oversaw regulatory, compliance and risk management and had his share of unique experiences during his more than 12 years there, including helping the family with everything from finding the right restaurant for a special dinner to buying three aircraft.
He says bringing that experience and expertise to Hirtle Callaghan in September 2018 was a natural next step that’s been rewarding because he’s working with more families and a more diverse investment portfolio.
“Hirtle Callaghan is a special organization with a great mission,” Eisner says. “We’re intentionally independent and dedicated to remaining so. I enjoy being a business driver who can help nonprofits with important missions and philanthropic families achieve the best possible outcomes.”
View this feature in the Vanguard Summer IV 2023 Edition here.
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