Gregory A. Carlson is a founding principal of Carlson Capital Management. As CEO his primary responsibilities include developing and setting the vision for the firm. In addition, Greg is actively involved in managing client relationships. Greg is a 1982 graduate of St. Olaf College, where he earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Economics. Greg went on to earn his designation as a Certified Financial Planner™. He worked for four years with IDS/American Express as a financial planner and manager, then established Carlson Capital Management in 1987. Greg has provided investment counsel and advice to clients for three decades and is a speaker and writer on the topics of financial, estate and philanthropic planning.
Greg is an active community member and has served in leadership roles on numerous boards and committees of civic, professional and religious organizations including the Northfield Rotary Club, American Center for Philanthropy, Northfield Area Foundation, Bethel Lutheran Church, Mt. Carmel Ministries, St. Olaf College, and TIAA-CREF Institute. Greg is also the co-founder of 5th Bridge, which is now a part of Northfield Shares, an organization founded to advance philanthropy, inspire volunteerism and promote collective leadership. Greg and his wife, Nancy, live in Northfield, where they have raised their three daughters.
I have learned that wisdom comes from experience and experience is gathered over time. Over the past 30 years, I have seen and worked with most of the technical issues people face in developing financial plans. But more importantly, I have been a part of our clients’ lives. I have seen the joys and challenges of wealth. I have experienced births and deaths, nursing homes, divorces, retirements and layoffs. I have witnessed the best and worst of families, the ups and downs of the stock markets, the comings and goings of trends and fads. I have seen goals set and achieved and opportunities created that no one thought existed. I have seen good and bad investments (and even invested in a few bad ones myself in the earlier years). Through all of this, I have learned the importance of being technically strong, disciplined and trustworthy and to be of uncompromising integrity. I am proud to have formed, and to be a part of a firm, which has these principles at its core.
Much of who we are as adults is steeped in our formative years as children and young people. I grew up on the prairies of western Minnesota where I was exposed to hard work, discipline and honesty. As one of five children of a school teacher and mother who stayed at home during the child-rearing years, my life revolved around family, church and sports. I was expected to do well (which meant only my best) in my education, sports and work, but always with a respect and concern for those around me.
When I was 12, and in the sixth grade, one afternoon my teachers gathered the entire class together to review a math test that we had all taken. Before beginning the review, Mrs. Halvorson wanted to draw attention to two students who had done exceptionally well–I was one of them. As she proceeded to go through the correct answer and method to each question, it became clear to me that she had not corrected my paper accurately. As I watched my “A” slip to a “C”, I began erasing the wrong answers for which I had received credit and replaced them with the new correct answers. At the conclusion of the review I stared at my paper now 100% correct. It took me only moments to re-erase the correct answers and replace them with the wrong answers and trudge to the front of the class to inform Mrs. Halvorson that I wasn’t the bright shining student on that exam.
Honesty is a value I hold sacred. Honesty means always telling the truth, even when it hurts. Honesty means being transparent in how I conduct business and in all aspects of my life. Most importantly, honesty means being authentic even when it shows my flaws.
It is the foundation of the first 22 years of my life, with the experiences of the following 35 years, that have guided me in working with the clients of Carlson Capital Management and developing our firm into a successful wealth management firm. I have a strong desire to excel at both the client and company level, but only by earning it. It is my philosophy that we need to always excel at taking care of our clients first and that in turn will shape who we are as a firm--our success will follow.