Bridges Investment Management – A Hidden Gem
Warren Buffett, known to many as the “Oracle of Omaha” and one of the most successful investors of all time, is definitely a household name. Even a layperson in investing will recognize it. But Buffett and Berkshire Hathaway aren’t the only investing success stories to come out of Omaha, Nebraska. Edson L. Bridges II and the Bridges companies—including Bridges Investment Counsel, Bridges Investment Management, and Provident Trust Company—are hidden gems in the investment and wealth management world, providing investment management services for nearly $2 billion in assets.
Although Bridges built his business in the backyard of one of the greatest investors of all time, his companies certainly possess investing chops of their own. After earning a BS in business administration from the University of Nebraska and an MBA from the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration, Bridges returned to Omaha in 1959 to begin his career in the wealth management field, joining his father’s investment advisory business. Bridges clearly remembers those early days. “We had maybe 10 or so families that dad had as clients, so maybe there’s 20 portfolios,” he said. That year, the total fee income was only $8,000. Over the next couple of years, that income doubled, it continued growing until the business was earning around $33,000 per year.
Since then, Bridges and his businesses have posted a long, strong record of success. In 1963, Bridges Investment Fund became the first Nebraska-based mutual fund to be registered under the Investment Company Act. The early 1990s saw the successful launch of Provident Trust Company, a Nebraska-chartered independent trust company. Through Provident, Bridges saw the opportunity to provide much-needed trust and estate administrative services to investment management clients while working with successive generations of families. This foresight has been a key driver in the success of the Bridges businesses, and it has fueled the management team’s desire to think forward in all that they do.
“It’s no secret that the largest wealth transfer in history is imminent, if not currently underway,” said Brian R. Miles, vice president of Bridges Investment Management. “Many experts estimate that upwards of $30 to $40 trillion in assets will be transferred over the next 10 to 30 years. Companies like ours that offer expertise in a wide range of trust and investment management services will have a competitive advantage as this wealth transition unfolds. This creates a significant opportunity to grow our business so that we can better serve the needs of a broader range of clients.”
Although Bridges remains active in the business, he describes himself as 5/8 retired now. An active philanthropist, he finds time to serve as a director or member of various corporate and civic boards and organizations, including Nebraska Methodist Hospital, the University of Nebraska Foundation, and First Covenant Church of Omaha. “Volunteerism is a big thing,” he said. “I feel so privileged to be on the boards I’ve served on.”
In 2017, Bridges’ expertise, integrity, success, and generosity were recognized with his induction into the Omaha Business Hall of Fame. Each year, the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce honors community and business leaders past and present for their innovative thinking, business leadership, success, and community impact.
“For nearly 60 years, Edson has dedicated his career to serving his clients with a commitment to trust, integrity, and ethics rivaled only by his passion for faith and family,” says Miles. “It’s that foundation of trust on which our business was built, and it’s that core foundation that will ensure that our firm will continue to serve clients for decades to come.”
Since the beginning, faith, honesty, and integrity have been the cornerstones of Bridges’ business practices and success. “To be able to earn people’s trust, you always have to be sure you tell them the truth,” Bridges said. “And you also have to be in a position where you can go the extra mile.” That dedication to integrity and exceptional client service has led to incredible growth for the Bridges companies.
Today, Bridges Investment Management, led by Bridges’ son Ted, provides a wide array of comprehensive investment and wealth management services for nearly $2 billion in assets for clients in 26 states. The firm’s investment philosophy is based on three key tenets. First, the company believes portfolio asset allocation is the most important determinant of investment return over time. Second, it believes in preserving capital, generating investment income, and reducing interest rate and credit risk to the lowest levels possible consistent with each client’s specific investment objectives, need for portfolio cash flow, and tolerance for risk. Third, the company believes stock returns are driven by corporate financial performance and growth in dividends and free cash flow over the long run, so a long time horizon is necessary for superior financial performance to be reflected in a stock’s price. Overall, the firm seeks to own companies with superior business franchises that allow strong growth in business value over the long run.
For more information about Bridges Investment Management, please visit www.bridgesinv.com.