Michael Kossman CPA
Chief Operating Officer and Chief Compliance Officer, Partner

Michael Kossman, CPA, Chief Operating Officer and Chief Compliance Officer at Aspiriant in San Francisco

What do you enjoy most about wealth management?

Helping people understand what their money can – or can’t – do for them, then putting it in the context of what they want to do with their lives.

What do you love most about being part of Aspiriant?

It sounds cliché, but our people – the clients, the employees, and the principals. It is a fantastic community of folks.

What professional accomplishments are you most proud of?

My work at Project Open Hand that culminated in Michael Kossman Day in San Francisco.

What quality of yours makes you best suited to do what you do?

My ability to bring a practical perspective to strategic and theoretical concepts.

How should people think about their wealth?

As a means to an end. Wealth is not an end unto itself.

What do you love to do outside of work?

Travel! It’s one of life’s great pleasures to explore the world and experience all the vastness and treasure it has to offer.

What would you be doing if you weren’t at Aspiriant?

I would probably be an architect. If money were no object, I’d be traveling the world as a freelance travel writer.

What personal accomplishments are you most proud of?

My community service. It started when The Gap nabbed me to volunteer at a big fund-raiser in 1992. I’ve been deeply involved in charity work ever since.

Education and accreditations

  • B.S. in Business Economics, Magna Cum Laude, University of California, Santa Barbara
  • CPA

An accomplished business and community leader, Michael is currently the Chief Operating Officer and Chief Compliance Officer of Aspiriant. He brings to the firm over 30 years of broad-based business experience in operations, finance, human resources, technology, taxation, regulatory environments and strategic planning.

Michael joined predecessor firm Kochis Fitz in August 2000 and was Aspiriant’s Chief Financial Officer from formation in 2008 until 2012. He now serves on the firm's Executive Committee, Investment Policy Board and Cybersecurity Committee, and chairs both the Operating and Compensation committees. On a day-to-day basis, he leads the team of directors responsible for investment operations, technology, human resources and regulatory compliance.

He began his professional career as an Olympic Village Accountant in the 1984 Olympic Games held in Los Angeles while he was still in college. He spent more than five years in PriceWaterhouse’s tax department in San Francisco, where he worked primarily with high net worth individuals and small businesses.

Michael received his CPA license in 1991 and shortly thereafter joined Gap, Inc., succeeding to the role of International Tax Manager, providing planning and compliance support to both domestic and foreign operating companies and expatriates in Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Hong Kong and Japan. Michael also had the honor of being selected to serve on the Gap Foundation Grants Committee. After leaving Gap, Michael worked for six years as the Deputy Executive Director at Project Open Hand, a large institutional social services agency where he oversaw programs that fed more than 2,000 people daily through home-delivered meals, drop-in grocery programs and congregate lunch sites.

Michael has devoted significant amounts of time and energy to the community of San Francisco, including holding board positions with Berkeley Repertory Theater, Design Industries Foundation Fighting AIDS (DIFFA)-San Francisco, The National AIDS Memorial Grove and Frameline. He was also a founding board member of AIDS Nutrition Services Alliance (ANSA), now the premier international voice for nutrition services programs, and a very early member of Plan C, a local political organization. In recognition of his efforts, March 31, 2000, was proclaimed Michael Kossman Day in San Francisco by Mayor Willie L. Brown. Michael was also a finalist for the 2010 CFO of the Year Award sponsored by the San Francisco Business Times.

Michael earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Business Economics in 1986 from the University of California, Santa Barbara, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude.

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