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Truist Wealth’s New Team Positions Clients For Uncertainties

Editorial Staff

22 October 2021

Inflation is weighing heavily on high net worth individuals’ minds, with latest figures showing US consumer price inflation rising in August at a 3.2 per cent year-on-year clip, rising from 2.0 per cent in July. Energy prices are rising fast - for a number of reasons - and the days when inflation appeared to be a distant 1970s/80s memory are, it seems, coming back. 

In this environment, when ultra-low/negative official interest rates don’t compensate lenders for eroding money value and encourage a scramble for riskier, higher yielding assets, what sort of advice is out there?

“Many of our clients are asking about inflation and its implications on their portfolios. It is not the level of inflation to be concerned about, but it is likely to influence Fed policy in 2022. Our position is that some of it is transitory and some of it is more embedded, but it will allow for continued growth of the economy through more income for consumers. Clients can take advantage of this through overweight in small capitalization stocks which are a value on a relative basis and can benefit from a growing economy,” Kenneth Connors, wealth advisor at Truist Wealth, a Charlotte, North Carolina-based firm, told this publication in a recent call.

Wealth managers have been spelling out some of their ideas on what clients should do, depending on whether the inflation rise is a “bump” or something more enduring.

Navigating clients around the planning and asset allocation reefs and shoals is only part of the task that Connors and Douglas Rogers and Beth Robillard bring to Truist. They recently joined the firm from Wells Fargo, to build out Truist's New England team capabilities.

Truist is the kind of firm that is able to serve clients’ needs more comprehensively at a time when there is a premium on tailored advice and deep understanding of their risk tolerances and goals, Connors said. 

Recent months have been busy for the firm. In early August Truist Wealth named Oscarlyn Elder and Keith Lerner as co-chief investment officers, succeeding Ernie Dawal who retired after more than 10 years with the firm. 

Formed by the merger of US banks of BB&T and SunTrust, Truist covers financial segments such as retail; small business and commercial banking; asset management; capital markets; commercial real estate; corporate and institutional banking; insurance; mortgage; payments; specialized lending; and wealth management. In the case of Truist Wealth, offerings include investing/retirement; trust and estate planning; banking, lending and risk management. 

Connors said he was happy to join Truist for its “tremendous opportunity” and its growth ambitions for the Northeastern regional market. Truist looks after business owners and multi-generational families, executives and entrepreneurs.

With technology likely to feature in so many portfolios, both on the listed and private markets side, being in Boston makes a lot of sense as well, given the richness of the local economy’s education and research ecosystem, driven by renowned universities and the sort of tech clusters also seen in California, Nashville, Tennessee and Austin, Texas. 

The Boston operation at Truist has a total of approximately 45 staff.

“We look to get with such early and help to make them successful,” Connors said. 

“Our long-term business objective is that we want to grow Truist in New England and in conjunction with our partners. We want to be a big player in the wealth management space,” he continued. 

Connors was at Wells Fargo for 17 years, working as a senior private banker. Rogers has 28 years’ industry experience, and was also at Wells Fargo. They joined in September. 

He, Rogers and Robillard decided to join Truist  because it can deliver the kind of investment, banking, planning and risk management services their clients wanted.

“Truist has pretty much all of the capabilities that we need,” he said, adding that putting alternative assets such as private equity and real estate on the menu is very much on his mind. “very important part of asset allocation for clients. We want them to have assets that aren’t correlated with the equity market.”

Connors likes the culture at his new berth: “The culture at Truist was a big driver in our decision to join the company. That includes the company’s “one team” mentality - this collaboration allows us to work together to support our clients’ holistic financial needs,” he continued. 

FWR asked Connors the inevitable pandemic question - how has the sector had to adjust? 

“Like all industries, we learned how to adapt and so did our clients. Wealth management is a client service business – so we need to partner with clients on their terms. For example, we have some clients who want to continue holding virtual meetings as opposed to in-person meetings. Others really want to get back together in person in a safe way. So having the technology that allows teams to be agile and serve clients “where they are” is important,” he said.