By Whittier Trust
Who doesn’t love baseball, aptly called “The Great American Pastime”? The best games take the fans, players and coaches on a nine-inning journey with highs and lows, demonstrations of strength and strategy, and ultimately, a celebration of the winning team’s victory.
Whittier Trust Company Assistant Vice President and Client Advisor Austin Barr— a recently converted Angels fan since moving to Newport Beach—sees the game as an apt analogy for the service Whittier Trust provides. “Our founder, Max Whittier, made his own luck when he made the cross-country trip from Maine to California—and we seek to perpetuate that winning streak with our preparation and expertise,” he says. Here’s how.
The best teams have a well-rounded collection of players who are skilled and specialized for the best team outcome. “The baseball analogy rings true: we play a lot of positions and must be ready for every hit,” Barr says. That can include everything from strategic services such as estate planning to maximize intergenerational wealth and looking for new advantageous alternative investment vehicles to tactical services such as ensuring business continuity or mitigating potential tension between beneficiaries.
Because Whittier Trust has five distinct but connected divisions—Investments, Trust Services, Family Office, Philanthropy and Real Estate & Energy—their bench is deep and diverse, which provides a holistic and methodical approach to a client’s financial landscape and life overall. For example, some clients come to Whittier for investments and then discover that working with the philanthropic services division can decrease their tax burden to increase their portfolio’s overall value. “It's really white glove service to the extreme,” Barr says.
As any coach knows, every team and opponent is different, so the best coaches develop a playbook that’s tailored for the season and flexible enough to win the game at hand. Similarly, when Whittier Trust begins working with a new client or family, they spend ample time getting to know the client, asking questions about lifestyle, goals, interests, concerns and much more. As a result, the day-to-day “playbook” may look slightly different for each client and it may change over time, as the client’s needs and goals change—or as life throws curve balls. Whittier Trust takes a nuanced approach and is able to be agile and thoughtful to give the client the best outcome and provide the most comfort along the way.
Barr notes, “We are actively looking for opportunities to optimize by revisiting goals and priorities regularly.” That could mean proposing an advantageous investment to minimize tax burden, celebrating a new addition to a family by setting up a college investment account or connecting with the philanthropic services team to pursue a client’s charitable passions. No request is too big or too small.
Prepared for Curveballs
Anyone who has lived through the last few years knows a thing or two about curveballs—thanks to a global pandemic, supply chain delays, a war in Ukraine and the “Great Resignation” that precipitated challenges in staffing. However, a well-rounded team is agile enough to expect that curveballs (or fastballs or changeups for that matter) are going to come, so that none of those events trigger knee-jerk reactions or panic-driven decisions. Instead, Whittier Trust takes a measured, thoughtful approach to whatever the market or the world throws at them. “It’s not a reactive type of thinking. Instead, we thrive in complexity,” says Barr. “Whether it’s the sale of a business and the pre-sale and post-sale planning or looking for opportunities to both preserve and grow wealth, we find a plan and strategy to do what’s right for our clients and their goals.”
For the Win
No matter what a client’s specific needs are, the Whittier Trust team’s goal is the same: to create a winning strategy. The low client-to-advisor ratio allows them to create and execute a highly customized plan, to be constantly available for questions and to proactively reach out as new opportunities arise. “Our winning strategy is made up of excellent service and ensuring that wealth is preserved over the long term,” Barr says. “We exist to grow and preserve the wealth of our clients, so that their legacy lives on.”