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.
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.
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.
We’ve all dreamed of winning the lottery and sailing off into the sunset footloose and fancy free! In celebration of National Lottery Day, which just so happens to be today, we’ve put together a few steps to take to help make your dreams become reality.
In the world of investing, four of the most dangerous words you can ever say are, “This time is different.” Throughout history, experts have warned “this time is different” when facing various crises that in their opinion render historical precedent, flawed at best and irrelevant at worst. The amount of history being witnessed right now does lead one to ask the age-old question: is this time different?
Events like we have seen in early 2020 leave many investors wondering: Is volatility management part of my plan for retirement? And if not, what do I need to do to make that happen?
Recently on CNBC, financial experts took turns predicting the stock market and discussing how it is way over-priced due to the very bleak economic circumstances. During that same time frame, another half-dozen suggested the worst was over. How can experts be so far off?
You do not need to inherit a long-lost relative’s estate or even win the lottery to set yourself up for success, you just need to follow practical financial fundamentals and stick to it for the long-term. So today, let us celebrate “National Be a Millionaire Day” by looking at real-life millionaire money hacks.
Since the start of the pandemic that’s rocked the world, rattled the stock markets and significantly altered the way we live and work, what we’ve come to realize is that investing in community isn’t about money. It’s about seeing a need, realizing you are in a unique position to meet that need and then doing it, taking action!
Amid so much uncertainty, we should all follow the basic recommendations for relieving stress and practicing self-care. Here are some tips and recommendations for exercising control and managing risk that will ultimately provide for successful financial outcomes.
The global pandemic has created a very interesting, sometimes surreal, collection of experiences for many of us. We watch the investment markets flying in all directions with incredible volatility. It really is that ‘interesting time’ that we’ve all heard we would be living through.
Grab your popcorn, movie awards season is upon us! From year to year, the winning genre varies depending on trends, current events and even the whim of the audience. Not unlike the movie awards, investment categories also prove to be hard to predict which one will be the big winner for the year.
You’re likely familiar with the idea of (or have personal experience with) a personal financial advisor. However, you may be asking what exactly a nonprofit financial advisor is and what do they do? You’re not alone.