The Haverford Trust Co. prides itself on being a solid, non-flashy institution, one with an emphasis on long relationships and long-term results.
“We’re a good fit for Rock-of-Gibraltar seekers,” said Binney Wietlisbach, president of the Radnor, Pa.-based firm.
But that’s not stopping 31-year-old Haverford—a combination trust company, asset manager and registered investment adviser—from seeking significant growth in the short term.
It wants to double its assets under management, currently about $6 billion, over the next five years, according to Wietlisbach. Haverford is seeking to bolster its name recognition beyond the Philadelphia area through an advertising campaign and event sponsorship in cities such as Chicago, Boston, Dallas and Los Angeles.
“We already have business there, and we want to leverage it into new business,” said Wietlisbach.
The company is also relying on media exposure and relationships with lawyers, accountants and planners, as well as its own clients, to drive new business, she said.
Haverford’s growth plans include increasing its corporate trustee business, its business with endowments and foundations, and its market share of retiring baby boomers with between $1 million and $20 million to invest.
Some wealth managers dismiss boomers with, say, $2 million or $4 million in their 401(k)’s as not sufficiently profitable, and that has opened an opportunity for Haverford, said Wietlisbach.
“We believe that the $1 million to $20 million market is underserved, and that it’s a wonderful market for separately managed accounts,” she said. “We think our quality investment theme is really going to resonate with people who are retiring.”
While there may a vacuum for such clients, firms used to serving wealthier ones may have a hard time scaling their services, warned Jerry Cooper, an advisor and client relationship manager with Advisors Institutional Services, a trust consultancy in Marshfield, Mass.
“You can’t be all things to all people,” he said.
That’s something that M&T Bank faces in the wake of its acquisition of Wilmington Trust, Cooper added: Wilmington’s clients tend to be wealthier than M&T’s, and serving both tiers properly could be tricky.
In addition to the rollover market, Haverford is looking to the
foundation and endowment market for growth. Such clients currently represent 10% of Haverford’s investment business, but the company believes it can increase market share by underlining how its investment philosophy is a good fit for fiduciaries, said Wietlisbach.
Finally, Haverford sees “an enormous opportunity” to grow its corporate trustee business. Corporate trustees act in a fiduciary capacity for corporations or individuals. One scenario involving a corporate trustee might involve a family in which the parents are concerned about one of their children being a spendthrift, explained Wietlisbach.
Rather than expect their other children police the squanderer, the parents might appoint a corporate trustee to make sure their wishes are honored.
The rising demand for such services as the U.S. population ages has helped to prompt the steady growth of trust charters in recent years, and many of those charters have been obtained by financial advisers.
Wietlisbach argued that established trust companies should not be overly concerned about the competition. Advisers-turned trust companies may find the regulatory burden tougher than they expected, and that may thin their ranks, she said.
“I think there are some people who are going find out that it’s a lot more difficult to maintain and keep a trust company charter than what they had expected,” she said.
Haverford, which has a single office and 65 employees, has been through a host of significant changes since its founding in 1979. In 1987, John A. Nuveen & Co., of Chicago, bought Rittenhouse Financial Services, the $9 billion-asset division of the company responsible for all business referred by brokerage houses as well as institutional accounts.
The remaining firm, Rittenhouse Trust Company, had $900 million of assets. Nuveen passed on buying that portion of the company because it belongs to the Federal Reserve system, and the acquirer didn’t want the associated regulatory hurdles, said Wietlisbach.
Rittenhouse Trust changed its name to The Haverford Trust Co. in 2002. Two years later, it established Haverford Investment Management, which manages institutional accounts and the Haverford Quality Growth Stock mutual fund, and Haverford Financial Services, Inc., the RIA firm.
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