Football coaches understand that planning to become state champions starts months before the 4th quarter of the final game. Similarly, financial planners understand the importance of clients planning with a focus on their end.
Managing a foundation or endowment is an important yet challenging endeavor. It requires a balance of short and long term planning, daily operations and active investment oversight. To add greater complexity, all of the above must be done in a fiduciary compliant manner. No easy task, but that’s where hiring a fiduciary like Unified Trust can help. We have extensive knowledge of the issues facing nonprofit organizations today, as well as the critical importance of establishing effective procedures and prudent policies for investment management.
WHY UNIFIED TRUST?
Your mission is our mission
At Unified Trust being a fiduciary is the very cornerstone of our foundation. What that means for your institution is that you will always receive the highest standard of care in the industry. It means you can count on us to put your organization first by always doing what’s in your best interest. We are here to help you on the journey to achieve your mission.
Certified for Fiduciary Excellence
In 2006, The Centre for Fiduciary Excellence (CEFEX) certified Unified Trust as meeting its highest standards of Fiduciary Practices for Investment Advisors. Unified Trust was among the first Investment Advisors globally to successfully complete the independent certification process and the first trust company certified in the United States. To maintain our CEFEX certification we submit to annual audits by the Centre for Fiduciary Excellence.
Transparent and Free of Conflicts
We’ve been transparent from the beginning. Unified Trust was one of the first fee-based, full disclosure, discretionary investment managers in the country2. We have always practiced full disclosure of our costs and fees. We also use an open architecture platform, which allows access to over 20,000 investment options. This gives us the breadth to select investments and investment managers whose philosophies and values align best with the goals of your organization.
The United States Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) provides regulatory supervision of Unified Trust’s operations. The OCC conducts a thorough examination of our business practices every 18 months. In addition, we undergo five rigorous independent audits every year. These examinations provide reassurance that your institution's investments receive ongoing regulatory oversight.
A National Bank Trust Company
Most financial organizations will say they can be trusted, but at Unified Trust we believe actions speak louder than words. We believe that ‘trust’ needs to be the foundation for everything that we do, which is why we assume the role of a fiduciary and are structured as a national bank trust company.
Your Nonprofit Financial & Fiduciary Resource Center
Wondering how your board is handling its fiduciary responsibilities?
Want to learn how a foundation saved over $200K annually and became certified for fiduciary best practices? Need help understanding what to look for when hiring a non-profit financial advisor? Check out our Nonprofit Financial & Fiduciary Resource Center for the tools you need to achieve your mission.
Prudent Investment Process
Investment portfolios may change over time, but our core philosophies will always be present.
As a discretionary trustee, Unified Trust has a duty to be loyal and to always act in the best interest of the participants. For this reason, we’re fee-based and take a no-conflict-of-interest approach. We’re bound by revenue neutrality, which means that we cannot make any more or less money based on which investments are chosen.
At many other investment firms, each nonprofit financial advisor has their own investment philosophy. This can lead to inconsistent and less-than-desirable outcomes for institutions. At Unified Trust, we believe eight minds are better than one. Therefore, all investment strategies are established and overseen by our Trust Investment committee.
This committee is comprised of senior leaders and highly credentialed investment professionals across the company. The committee is responsible for evaluating macroeconomic factors and market conditions that influence our strategic investment decisions. You can rest easy knowing your institution's portfolio is being managed by experts according to prudent investment standards.
Allocating your institution’s assets across many investment categories allows your organization to participate in a variety of areas – stocks, bonds and cash investments – within the global economy. This helps to spread risk and avoid being overly concentrated in one segment of the market.
We believe asset quality matters. We carefully screen investments on the basis of long-term performance, manager tenure, adherence to stated objectives and other factors which tend to drive outstanding results. Selecting investments with better historic track records can help the portfolio weather the ups and downs of the market.
Keeping costs under control can have a positive impact on long-term performance. We look for investment companies that work to keep expense ratios, management fees and other costs to a minimum, and investments with low turnover rates, stable management and other factors that serve your interests. After all, the lower the costs, the more return your organization retains to help achieve its mission.
We work with your institution to understand its risk tolerance and risk capacity as it relates to achieving short-term and long-term spending goals. Through our managerial oversight and disciplined investment review process, we help keep the portfolio on track during turbulent times.
Like any prudent decision, we take a balanced approach to selecting investments for our clients. Our investment process begins with a quantitative analysis using our Unified Fiduciary Monitoring Index (UFMI). This scoring system provides an evaluation of each investment relative to its peers.
Fiduciary Best Practices
Unified Trust uses the Global Standards and the Global Fiduciary Practices as the foundation for helping clients achieve their financial goals in a fiduciary compliant manner. Our fiduciary best practices includes a four-step process that we follow to provide clients with the highest level of fiduciary oversight.
A Prudent Process Can Help Your Mission Achieve It’s Mission
We're here to help your mission achieve it’s mission in just a few easy steps. Here’s how it works:
Unified Trust first works with you to understand your institution's short-term and long-term investment goals. From there, our team of experts organize the investment approach, while identifying and documenting the responsibilities of all parties.
Next, we formalize the process through creation of a detailed Investment Policy Statement (IPS). Organizations such as yours often face the trade-off between the competing goals of supporting short-term operations and preserving long-term assets. Therefore, economic issues such as interest rates and inflation are important to consider. The IPS is customized to the unique needs of your organization and will set the criteria for the prudent selection and retention of investments.
The investment approach is then implemented in accordance with the IPS, its stated risk level and diversification parameters, including consistency with the Uniform Prudent Management of Institutional Funds Act (UPMIFA).
The final step is the prudent and continuous monitoring of the portfolio and its investments. To assist your organization in being prudent in monitoring us, we provide a quarterly Unified Fiduciary Monitoring Report.
If you read that title and immediately recognized the reference, this article is for you! It's time for us geriatric’s to embrace our 40s-ish and take full control of our financial future to ensure that our nest egg is well prepared to support a retirement lifestyle full of avocado toast, and Instagram-worthy vacations.
It is not every day, heck not even every lifetime, that an opportunity to turn $10,000 into $100,000 in less than a month presents itself. All that needed to be done was scour through posts on WallStreetBets and invest in one of the four distressed, highly shorted companies it targeted. The caveat? You better know when to get out.
In Part 3 of our Roth IRA series, we talk about each stage of life and how to incorporate your Roth IRA into planning.
In Part 2 of our Roth IRA series, we discuss a few tips and techniques to help maximize the Roth IRA experience.
Periodically we like to remind readers of the benefits of a Roth IRA and extoll its virtues as a means for building and transferring tax-free wealth. Read Part 1 in our Roth IRA blog series!
Starting a new year inspires us to set new goals and look forward, usually optimistically, to a brighter and more productive future. For many, this includes tackling our overall financial wellness. In honor of #NationalFinancialWellnessMonth, here are a few tips on how to get started on your financial journey.
Famously, Ebenezer Scrooge was visited by the three notorious ghosts of his past, present and future, in hopes of learning from the error of his ways. So too, investors can look to their own specters to learn the lessons of successful investment planning and management.
“A diversified investment portfolio is like a fruit salad; you need more than just apples and oranges.” As hokey as that sounds there is a cherry pip of truth in it. A well-balanced, globally diverse mix of stocks, bonds and liquidity investments within your accounts guards against concentrated risk and smooths your path for long-term growth.
Sales and specials and limited time offers, oh my! It’s that time of year again when holiday shoppers are gearing up for the big gift giving season. Given the special circumstances we face today, traditional shopping and spending is so 2019.
As we approach year end, the holiday season provides a time for us to reflect on our health and happiness and make charitable gifts for those less fortunate. On this Giving Tuesday, I could not think of a better time to do so! While personal financial situations vary, luckily there are several strategies we can use to give charitably that benefits both sides.
As we approach the end of 2020, we can, with a slight sigh of relief, put the tumultuous year behind us and dare to look ahead. The holiday season and the prospect of a new year tend to bring a renewed sense of energy and hope. And I think we can all use a healthy dose of that these days!
Social Security. We pay into it but we’re constantly questioning if we’ll ever see that money when we need it. I was recently interviewed by PLANSPONSOR about how "Social Security Burdens Fall on Younger Workers" and it got me thinking. What are we young savers to do?
Saving for retirement in a pandemic: What you need to know to successfully contribute to a 401k and IRA this year
Many people often utilize borrowing techniques to help them achieve their financial dreams and goals. One thing we can't borrow is our retirement. During this year of uncertainty due to COVID, it's more important than ever to keep retirement in mind and contribute to a 401k and IRA.
Working with a financial advisor can provide many benefits for investors, especially during times of uncertainty, but it’s vital to do your homework before you hire someone. I recently added commentary for an article in U.S. News and World Report, outlining common mistakes investors make when hiring a financial advisor.
In a year where everything feels out of sync and in many ways out of control, there is no better time to celebrate and recognize October as National Financial Planning month.
On that sweltering Belmont Park afternoon in front 69,000 plus spectators, Secretariat delivered one of the most iconic moments in American sports history. While the last six months of stock market movement isn’t a “moment” in time we can all point to, it has most definitely been momentous for investors and non-investors alike.
Earlier this summer I was asked to submit a retirement investing tip for an article in US News and World Report. Ironically, just within the last few months, a niece and two of my nephews (ages 20-23) each asked me how to get started as well. I shared these five simple strategies with them.
If you’ve lately checked the headlines of most financial news sources, you’re bound to be somewhat confused. In a time of extreme uncertainty comes extreme takes on where the market is headed and what actions investors should be doing.
Retirement readiness takes years of careful planning and customized strategies. The rapidly-changing environment is prompting nearly everyone to reassess their lifestyle, spending habits, career plans and future goals. But for those nearing retirement, it might leave some to wonder if they have achieved or are close enough to their goal of retirement readiness.