What qualities are you looking for in an advisor? What values are you looking for in a partner?
We all want someone we can trust, someone we expect to be there for us when we need them. At least that’s what I look for when I’m searching for a provider of some type. I want to know I can rely on them to give me the best advice possible, and that the advice is unbiased.
We know that’s the way advisors should be and to possess these basic characteristics. But shouldn’t I also be able to ask that the person or firm will be there for the long haul? That they will do what they’ve promised to do? I don’t need someone to work miracles or move mountains - just follow through on promises made.
With all the bad news and uncertainty in the world, it’s nice to be able to say there are some people you can rely on. It would be nice to know that some promises are important enough to keep, for instance when an institution says it is going to take care of me. I don’t expect services beyond that institution’s scope, or for it to stretch beyond what it can provide.
I think that’s what has gotten some of these larger institutions in trouble. When you hear about companies opening accounts illegally, having sales contests and not providing support for their employees, you must wonder how these things happen. I mean, how many times do they have to be hit with multimillion-dollar fines before they learn? Not just multimillion, but hundreds of millions!
One such company was even fined $5.4 million for firing the employee that blew the whistle on unsavory practices. In addition to the fine, the company was made to re-hire the employee. That same company has laid off close to 6,000 employees due to mismanagement.
Of course, these types of practices aren’t limited to the banking industry. Just recently, two insurance agents in North Carolina defrauded retirees in fourteen different counties across the state in excess of $11 million. How can I rely on companies like these to provide me with unbiased information, much less honest communication, and to act in my best interest? How can I be sure their recommendations are truly beneficial for me and not for them?
When thinking about the beneficiaries of your estate, you will probably want them to be able to get good advice from someone they can trust, who is not trying to sell them some new product every week. You want someone who will listen and make recommendations based on what’s best for you and your beneficiaries, not what’s best for the institution.
This is where having a fiduciary comes in handy. By law, a fiduciary must put client’s interests ahead of his or her own. A fiduciary must act in an unbiased fashion.
I like to think that I, and Old North State Trust, provide these qualities and services to our clients each day. In fact, it’s our motto to put our clients and our employees first, to do business above-board and honestly and let everything else take care of itself.
We even have this mantra printed on plaques in each one of our offices. It’s something we take very seriously and live by, not just words on a board.
Old North State Trust, LLC (ONST) periodically produces publications as a service to clients and friends. The information contained in these publications is intended to provide general information about issues related to trust, investment and estate related topics. Readers should be aware that the facts may vary depending upon individual circumstances. The information contained in these publications is intended solely for informational purposes, is proprietary to ONST and is not guaranteed to be accurate, complete or timely.
Susan Willett is the director of trust services and oversees all aspects of trust administration for Old North State Trust, LLC. Old North State Trust, a North Carolina chartered trust company, provides: asset management services; income, estate and trust tax consulting; retirement planning and administration; and trustee and estate services to both individuals and businesses. Old North State Trust professionals have many years of experience and for over a decade have assisted clients in identifying and reaching their financial goals. For more information, visit www.oldnorthstatetrust.com or call 910-399-5470.
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