Carter Ruml is sharp. Razor sharp. And charming.
Carter is the kind of guy you want to vote for after five minutes of conversation, even though he isn’t running for anything. He’s a classic overachiever, complete with an Ivy League education and a reading knowledge of Latin. He’s just impressive, and somebody you want on your side, whether it’s in a courtroom or on the water.
Some rowers, or scullers, like Carter, are minimalists when they head out to the river. They “go analog,” as Carter puts it. Low tech. No gear. Carter doesn’t bring those expensive gadgets and heart rate monitors like the other guys. That stuff is for when he’s training at home on his rowing machine. When he’s on his boat, it’s just him and the water. His heart rate can remain a mystery. It is what it is.
Carter originally dabbled in rowing when he attended Princeton University, where rowers seem to be forged. But he really got serious several years later in his late 20s. He and his father, who is the rowing patriarch of the family, teamed up together on three occasions to compete in the highly regarded Head of the Charles Regatta in Cambridge, Massachusetts. That’s about an hour away from where Carter grew up in Holden, a rural town just outside of Worcester. Carter jokingly calls the Head of the Charles, “NASCAR for rich people,” and says that one day he’ll compete there with his son. Clearly, a legacy is forming.
Most years, Carter competes in one or two smaller events and says racing keeps him honest, ensuring accountability to the sport. But that’s all on the surface. That’s the stuff that comes up in conversation because deep down, rowing is much more romantic to Carter. One might even say poetic.
As a reference to the sport, Carter quoted the classic author and fellow Princetonian, F. Scott Fitzgerald, from his famous closing line in The Great Gatsby:
“So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
“As lyrical and beautiful as that sounds, it’s also very literal. Rowing being what it is, when you launch and head upstream, you’re facing backwards, so you are literally rowing against the current, beating back into the past.”
And then there is what Carter calls “perfect water,” or an elusive set of environmental circumstances that, when aligned, offer a perfect physical and aesthetic rowing experience.
“Perfect water is the right weather with the right current and the right sunrise. It’s the right play of light off the water. The sound of the waves going under you. There’s a huge difference with those variables being almost perfect and actually perfect — and you’re always chasing that perfection.”
Carter has seen perfect water a few times. Once with his father on the Connecticut River and other times with his son on the Ohio in Louisville, which is where Carter lived most recently before he moved to Cincinnati.
“It can happen anywhere. You never know what to expect. You just have to keep creating opportunities where it can happen.”
Most of the time, Carter rows alone, but sometimes he doubles up. In that case, there is a stroke seat, which sets the pace, and the bow seat, which supports the stroke seat.
“Sometimes it’s nice to set the pace and be in charge, but other times it’s nice to follow the right kind of people and let your mind go and focus on the rhythm and tempo.”
Speaking of the right kind of people, Carter is impressed with his new colleagues at Graydon. Coming from his own practice that he ran with his wife, Sara, to a larger organization like Graydon, Carter seems to appreciate being part of an expanded team.
“I think the people here at Graydon have a really impressive sense of craft and professionalism. There’s tremendous collegiality here, and a really profound sense of teamwork. When any professional is doing what they do with the right team, you’re going to improve your own performance. I really like the people here. I admire them.”
As for his new home in Cincinnati:
“I love the architecture and the topography. I really get a sense of the energy here in Cincinnati. With the art scene, for example, the city has a buzz. Also, being connected to another river city is very special to me.”
Of course, Carter couldn’t help but point out the rowing conditions in Cincinnati as well. He noted the reduced barge traffic, less driftwood, and an overall narrower, calmer passage. Overall, it seems like quite a few conditions have already lined up for Carter to not only find some perfect water in Cincinnati’s bend of the river, but within Graydon as well.
Carter’s professional focus for over 17 years has been the trust, estate, business, tax and financial planning issues facing private clients and closely held business owners. His practice focuses on estate planning, estate administration, charitable planning, and other needs of private clients and fiduciaries.
Carter helps families plan the tax and non-tax aspects of their probate and non-probate estates, often incorporating many strategies to reduce estate, inheritance, and income taxes. His estate administration work often focuses on estates that are complex or contentious, whether because of family relationships, creditor claims, business liquidity needs, or otherwise.
Carter also helps private clients with other needs, including private equity investments, business succession planning, risk management, and strategic financial planning.
Carter’s clients range from young professionals to recent retirees to very elderly people, and have varying levels of wealth – sometimes emerging, but often established, or generational. A common denominator for the clients he helps is an appreciation for careful listening, creative thinking, and customized approaches tailored to the client’s particular situation and objectives. Carter takes pride in helping clients look far ahead and plan for unanticipated opportunities or pitfalls – to capture the good, and avoid the bad whenever possible.
For three years in the middle of his law practice, Carter worked in-house at a regional trust company and earned the Certified Financial Planner (CFP®) designation. This experience gives him an appreciation for working as part of a client’s advisory team with high quality advisors in other disciplines, whether accounting, insurance, or investment management.
Carter publishes and speaks frequently on estate, tax, business, and financial planning, and has given almost 50 presentations at local, state, and regional bar associations, seminars, and conferences. Based on his professional speaking and reputation and his service to the trusts and estates bar, his peers elected him Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel (ACTEC). Carter is admitted to practice in Kentucky, Ohio, Florida, and Vermont.
Carter and his wife, Sara Elrod Ruml, live in Mariemont. They have three children at home, along with a giant, spoiled shaggy dog. Carter has been an active member of the Episcopal Church for over 30 years, and he and Sara are members of St. Thomas Episcopal Church in Terrace Park. Carter also proudly serves on the External Advisory Board of the Lewis Honors College of the University of Kentucky.
Carter enjoys exercising and keeping fit, most of all with rowing (often teaching new rowers to scull). He is active in the Louisville and Cincinnati Rowing Clubs, and has competed in singles and doubles sculling races around the country. He is bravely and humbly learning to play golf better, and reads widely about history, sociology, investing, and politics.