Being in the trust business, I often find myself having to explain just what, exactly, it is that I do for a living. Most people have some idea of what a trust is, but they may not know much about the difference between a large bank’s trust department and an independent trust company like Old North State Trust.
Our company is chartered, just like a bank, and regulated, but it does not provide any banking functions. I like to say that, as Wilmington’s only independent trust company, Old North State Trust is “old school.” That means we are not as focused as a bank would be on just its very biggest clients. We work with many people who have relatively modest assets, but understand the importance of protecting them, and protecting their family members.
Also, we are not as narrowly focused on creating a tidy, uniform financial package for each client. Every situation is unique, and being family owned we put a priority on personal service.
Unfortunately, large banks don’t like having to oversee trusts they consider “dirty.” An easy-to-manage “clean” trust is based on liquid assets like stocks, bonds and mutual funds, which can be traded quickly and with little effort. But we recognize that most families’ wealth also includes more complicated assets such as life insurance policies, real estate and small businesses, which often are organized as partnerships or LLCs.
Most important, we are local. Our clients reach us by phone and meet us face to face. By contrast, many large banks are consolidating their trust departments in big, centralized offices. These offices may be thousands of miles away, and a trust’s manager is essentially a stranger.
Our company’s byword is flexibility. We aim to manage clients’ assets like they would manage those assets themselves. One important way we do this is to collaborate with our clients’ other professional advisers so everybody’s expertise is put to work for the clients’ benefit.
We are not brokers and we don’t earn commissions for selling financial products. Our revenue comes entirely from fees, which ensures that we are always working for the client’s benefit, not some third party.
A useful way to think about this is to say we are driven by relationships, not by transactions. Because our founders learned this business through the process of converting their family’s business assets into personal trusts, they understand how vital our services are to real people, real families. For that reason, we continue to place a premium on personal attention to each client. And our clients want to have an expert adviser they can trust, especially when making plans far into the future.
For our asset management clients, establishing and developing that relationship follows a four-step process.
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