When you first walk in the front door of The Sanibel Captiva Trust Company, you are not met with soaring marble ceilings and shining elevator doors. Instead you are greeted by Frances Steger and Lori Mobley, ideally positioned in a comfortable airy living room where they manage their daily work of The Trust Company. They know your name and offer you a smile and a mug of coffee while you relax on the sofa, looking forward to your meeting with your wealth advisor. Al Hanser, Founder and Chairman of The Trust Company will often stroll from his office to see who has popped in and greet you with a hearty hand shake or a hug. And it has been this way for 16 years. Sound too good to be true?
In the late 1990s, Al Hanser retired to Sanibel-Captiva Islands after a life-long career in the investment and banking industry. Having served as Chairman and CEO of Resource Bank and Trust Company in Minneapolis, Minnesota, he knew the business well. He was also Senior Executive of Investment Banking at Dain Rausher, (now RBC Wealth Management), as well as Chairman, CEO and board member of USB Merchant Bank, and Chairman of Hanrow Financial Group, Ltd. Al had clearly earned the reward of relaxing in the beauty of the barrier islands. But like many successful business people, he flunked retirement.
It wasn’t long after Al and wife, Sally had settled in Sanibel when he realized there were no dedicated investment or trust services actually on Sanibel-Captiva. Anyone wishing to do business needed to go “over the bridge” to the mainland or simply stay with the people they knew somewhere up north, limiting themselves to seasonal communications or managing through long-distance means.
Al knew that truly successful results in this arena were based on one-on-one relationships between the client and professional advisor. Local friends who felt the same way kept asking him if he’d thought of “starting something,” so they could enjoy the convenience of managing their investments locally and ensure that their trusts were properly drafted for Florida. Most people still had trusts established out of state, which can present challenges for beneficiaries in the future. That’s when Al made up his mind to put a team together and establish The Sanibel Captiva Trust Company in 2000, becoming Founder and Chairman. “Having met so many talented people here in Southwest Florida, I knew this was very doable,” said Al. “Successful people want to live here and that meant we could attract the level of professionals necessary to build an outstanding investment and trust team right here, and we did.”
They cultivated a Fortune 500-caliber board of directors and hired accomplished professionals, some of whom were coaxed out of an early retirement. Respected banker and investment manager, Richard Pyle, CFA, is one such expert who was attracted to this opportunity and now serves as President of The Sanibel Captiva Trust Company. Dick was a Minnesotan himself, having served as managing director and research analyst at Piper Jaffray, as well as, Director of Piper Ventures. He then co-founded Winslow Capital Management, Inc. of Minneapolis. Dick was very familiar with Al’s exceptional reputation and wisdom in the financial industry.
The firm officially opened for business in January of 2001 and are celebrating 16 years serving their Sanibel-Captiva clients this year. After several years of compounding growth on the islands, the firm expanded to Naples in 2009 and Tampa Bay shortly thereafter, adopting names representing the communities they serve – The Naples Trust Company and The Tampa Bay Trust Company. “It was important to us that in whichever community we called home, the clients who resided there knew we were entirely dedicated to their needs and those of their families,” said Terence M. Igo, CEO, based in the Tampa Bay office.
Carol B. Boyd, President of The Naples Trust Company can attest to that. “Many of our clients have voiced their frustrations with what we refer to as the big box experience,” she said. “They felt lost amid thousands of clients experiencing cookie cutter, one size fits all investment management. We knew we could provide the relationship they were looking for, because that’s what we wanted, as well.”
Igo explained that the team of people who work at The Trust Company joined the firm for the same reasons their clients did – they want a one-on-one relationship again. “As a privately-held company, an important part of our culture is that we don’t carry proprietary products or fee-based solutions,” he said, “so we’re not incentivized to do anything with a client’s portfolio, except make sure it’s achieving its goals.”
Craig Holston, Chief Operating Officer and member of the Asset Management Team, spent a number of years working on Wall Street before coming to Sanibel. “The men and women on the portfolio team conduct their own independent research and select all investments in client portfolios,” said Holston. “This ability keeps us nimble and doesn’t limit the client’s opportunities by investing their portfolios in inflexible models.”
He went on to explain that The Trust Company applies long-term investment strategies by investing in a combination of proven companies and fixed income options that are consistent with a client’s portfolio requirements, rather than attempting to beat an index, seek short-term trading opportunities, or rely on market momentum. They review and select “best in class” investments. Today, The Trust Company is the largest independent trust company in southwest Florida, approaching $2 billion in assets under management.
Over the last two years, the company grew again with the establishment of a new office in Winter Haven in Polk County, Marco Island in Collier County and Belleair – a coastal community of Tampa Bay. Each of these offices serves a very unique population of individuals, families and business owners with specific needs and goals. That’s why the company’s official expansion of the Family Office Services Group in 2015 was so fitting, having merged with Craddock Family Office Services in Winter Haven. “In addition to our core business, we manage several large and complex family relationships that warrant the depth of our combined resources,” said Hood Craddock, CPA, Director of Family Office Services. “Our corporate missions are the same in regard to client service, a holistic perspective, and providing multi-generational wealth advisory and problem solving techniques to assist families with complex estates.” He explained that one of the most valuable roles the Family Office Services Group can play, is to quarterback the coordination of the client’s professional advisor circle and the array of components.
Ever-changing tax and estate-related regulations make trusts one of the most effective vehicles for the transfer of wealth from one generation to the next. The Trust Company often serves as trustee, co-trustee, personal representative or investment agent, and focuses on reducing or eliminating estate taxes, capital gains taxes or income taxes.
From Tampa Bay to Marco Island, The Trust Company team specializes in managing investments for a variety of individuals, families and entities, including foundations and endowments with their nonprofit community partners. They’re commitment goes beyond investment and trust management. Both corporately and personally, employees and board members are dedicated to their communities, supporting over 125 nonprofit organizations financially and through hundreds of volunteer hours year-round. To date, the company has donated over $1.5 million to local nonprofits. To affirm The Trust Company’s commitment to the community, Al Hanser explained that the firm launched an Employee Stock Ownership Program in 2015, which extends ownership to the employees and virtually ensures the firm will not be sold, but continue to be part of the fabric of this community for a long time to come.
Keeping clients informed and prepared, The Trust Company also provides original programming – some of which includes educational investment presentations, women’s financial seminars, and economic forums; plus the quarterly newsletter authored entirely by the investment and trust leadership, and a new comprehensive website.
The range of clientele creates special opportunities where employees can help in ways that were never expected. “In any of our markets, you may hear of us having relocated people during hurricanes, taken clients to doctors’ appointments, and even moved furniture,” said Al Hanser. “And we are very protective of their confidentiality. It’s all part of that one on one relationship where the line is indistinguishable between clients and friends.” Hanser says they wouldn’t have it any other way.
This article is reprinted from the 2017 issue of Island Scene magazine