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 ARGENT'S GROWTH STRATEGY IS HIGHLIGHTED ON NATIONAL LEVEL

Featured in Research Magazine. Click HERE to read the full article.

 

ARGENT'S NEW HIRE UNDERSCORES FIRM'S GROWTH

Featured in Memphis Daily News. Click HERE to read the full article. 

 

 

 

 

ARGENT TRUST EXPANDS TO SOUTH CAROLINA

Greenville, SC and Ruston, LA – Argent Financial Group announced today the acquisition of East Broad Trust Company with offices in Greenville and Columbia, South Carolina.  The combination significantly extends Argent’s geographical reach and allows the clients of East Broad to take advantage of the resources of a major regional financial services entity and benefit from the progressive trust and estate planning laws of Tennessee by associating with Argent’s Tennessee Trust charter.

East Broad is domiciled in Greenville and has an additional office in Columbia. East Broad will retain its management team, led by Jordan Earle and Steve Fisher. East Broad’s Earle and Fisher have over 45 years of combined experience in financial services. Marie Bird, of the Columbia office, will add significant depth with her specialty in special needs trust and her 30 years of experience. With this acquisition, Earle, senior Greenville executive, will also join the Argent Trust Company board.   The growing southern footprint increases Argent’s total client asset base to approximately $6 billion and adds to its cumulative industry experience. 

“After careful consideration, we decided to merge East Broad Trust Company with Argent to be able to deliver a broader range of trust administration and wealth management services,” said Earle. "Our board and management team reviewed many options and one of the many reasons we selected Argent was the benefits our clients can receive by taking advantage of Tennessee trust law.”

“Argent Financial Group’s organizational approach utilizes highly qualified local professionals to lead its subsidiaries and market offices, while providing the full resources, experience and technological support of a major regional wealth management services company. We believe the staff at East Broad will significantly grow our presence in the South Carolina market,” said Kyle McDonald, CEO of Argent Financial Group.

 The combined Company will deliver its services in South Carolina under the brand name Argent Trust. 

About Argent Financial Group, Inc.
Argent Financial Group, Inc., domiciled in Ruston, Louisiana, was formed in 1990 and traces its roots back to 1930.  Responsible for more than $6 billion in client assets, Argent Financial Group is a regional financial services entity providing individuals and businesses with a broad range of financial services including trust administration and related services, investment management, retirement plan and charitable organization administration, mineral (oil and gas) management and financial, retirement and estate planning. For more information, visit www.argentmoney.com.

 

 

Roos, Garrett, Murphy and Werner Join Argent Trust Company, NA Board; Gary Moore named President

SHREVEPORT, LA, April 2, 2013 - Argent Financial Group, Inc, a leading diversified financial services company recently renamed its foundational trust company as Argent Trust Company, N.A. and elected four new directors and a new President for Argent Trust.

Argent Financial Group began in 1990 as The Trust Company of Louisiana. As a result of Argent’s explosive growth in other adjacent geographic areas and a refined focus on its client service delivery and brand development, the original trust company has been renamed Argent Trust Company, N.A.

"Argent Trust has been a primary catalyst for the growth our company has experienced. To ensure that continues, we have sharpened our focus on ensuring an excellent client experience through dedicated local leadership," said Kyle McDonald, CEO of Argent Financial Group and Chairman of Argent Trust Company, N.A. "Our new president and directors are accomplished leaders and each bring unique perspectives to Argent Trust."

New President

Gary A. Moore has been named President & Senior Trust Officer and elected to the Board of the trust company.  Moore joined Argent in 1998 and has over 30 years of experience in the wealth management industry.  He has B.S. and M.B.A. degrees from Louisiana Tech University.

New Directors

Armand L. Roos is Of Counsel to Weiner Weiss & Madison of Shreveport.  Roos has a law degree from Louisiana State University.  He is a Board Certified Tax Attorney and a Board Certified Estate Planning and Administration Specialist.

J. Mark Garrett, CPA is a retired partner in KPMG, LLP.  Garrett also serves as Chairman of the Audit Committee of Argent Financial Group, Inc.   He is a graduate of Louisiana Tech University.

Thomas H. Murphy is a private investor and former President of Murco Drilling.  Murphy also serves on the boards of Argent Financial Group, Inc. and PHI, Inc. He holds degrees from Washington & Lee University and Emory University.

John D. Werner is a partner in Fishman Haygood Phelps Walmsley Willis & Swanson of New Orleans.  Werner received an undergraduate degree from Duke University and a law degree from Tulane.

Director Emeritus

John R. Williams was elected Director Emeritus in recognition of his service for over 20 years.

About Argent Financial Group
Argent Financial Group, Inc., domiciled in Ruston, Louisiana, was formed in 1990 and traces its roots back to 1930.  Responsible for more than $5.5 billion in client assets, Argent Financial Group is a diversified financial services entity providing individuals and businesses in the mid-South with a broad range of financial services including trust administration and related services, investment management, retirement plan and charitable organization administration, mineral (oil and gas) management and financial, retirement and estate planning. For more information, visit www.argentmoney.com.

 

 

Buchanan Joins Argent Financial Group, Inc.

RUSTON, La., March 25, 2013 -- Argent Financial Group, a leading diversified financial services company, has elected J. Phil Buchanan as President. Buchanan brings more than 25 years of experience in leading, advising and consulting financial services firms on a global basis.  Buchanan has joined the executive management team and is responsible for leading the relationship management and marketing teams. He will play a critical role in managing Argent’s brand and growth strategies and expanding its base.

"As a consultant to the wealth management industry for the past 20 years, Phil identified with the core values of focused client service that Argent delivers through our growing professional staff," said Kyle McDonald, CEO of Argent Financial Group. "His acumen and experience leading companies and advising on strategy makes him well-suited to further position Argent at the forefront of the continually evolving wealth management industry."

Previously, Buchanan served as the Chief Executive Officer of Cannon Financial Institute., a financial services educational and professional development firm. He will continue to serve on their Board of Directors.  Buchanan is also an active advisor to several companies including Allen & Company and Laurus Principal Group, LLC.  He holds an economics degree from the University of Georgia.

About Argent Financial Group
Argent Financial Group, Inc., domiciled in Ruston, Louisiana, was formed in 1990 and traces its roots back to 1930.  Responsible for more than $5.5 billion in client assets, Argent Financial Group is a diversified financial services entity providing individuals and businesses in the mid-South with a broad range of financial services including trust administration and related services, investment management, retirement plan and charitable organization administration, mineral (oil and gas) management and financial, retirement and estate planning. For more information, visit www.argentmoney.com.

Argent Financial Group, The Trust Company Combine to Deliver Broader Range of Wealth Management Services to Clients

Merged Firms to Oversee More Than $5.5 Billion in Assets

 

RUSTON, LA and SAN ANTONIO, TX - Argent Financial Group, Inc. today announced the acquisition of The Trust Company of San Antonio. The combination significantly extends Argent’s geographic reach and allows clients of The Trust Company access to a broader range of financial services.

The merger was unanimously approved by a vote of stockholders of TTC Holdings, Inc., parent of The Trust Company.

The Trust Company, formed in 1997, is domiciled in San Antonio and has an additional office in Corpus Christi.  The Trust Company will retain its management team, led by Sam Boldrick and Reid Harrell, and its name, as it will continue as a separate entity as a subsidiary of Argent Financial Group.

Argent Financial Group, a diversified wealth management firm, provides a broad array of financial services built from its core of trust management. Argent is now responsible responsible for more than $5.5 billion in client assets. 

Sam Boldrick, Chief Investment Officer and Managing Director of The Trust Company stated, “Our board reviewed numerous options as we planned for The Trust Company’s future.  Argent presented our clients, stockholders and staff with the best possible combination of opportunities.”

“The Trust Company and Argent have a common culture and are well known to each other due to a number of associations over the past several years.  We are very pleased to be the foundation of Argent’s presence in Texas and look forward to the growth in our ability to serve our clients”, commented Reid Harrell, Chief Executive Officer of The Trust Company.

“Argent has looked at options for a Texas presence for some time.  The Trust Company has long been a desired partner, due to our familiarity with their client service orientation and fiduciary focus.  Combining resources with The Trust Company’s great team of professionals ensures our ability to continue providing exceptional experience for our clients”, stated Kyle McDonald, founder and CEO of Argent Financial Group.

About Argent Financial Group
Argent Financial Group, Inc., domiciled in Ruston, Louisiana, was formed in 1990 and traces its roots back to 1930.  Responsible for more than $5.5 billion in client assets, Argent Financial Group is a diversified financial services entity providing individuals and businesses in the mid-South with a broad range of financial services including trust administration and related services, investment management, retirement plan and charitable organization administration, mineral (oil and gas) management, financial, retirement and estate planning, and brokerage services (offered through LPL Financial). For more information, visit www.argentmoney.com.

 

 

 

Articles featuring the Merger between Argent Financial Group and Highland Capital Management:

The Commerical Appeal
Memphis Business Journal
MSN Money


Highland Capital Management Merges with Argent Financial Group

(Merger will offer broader range of wealth management services)

(January 7, 2013) – Memphis, TN - based Highland Capital Management, LLC, has agreed to merge with Argent Financial Group of Ruston, LA., in a move that significantly broadens Highland Capital’s geographic reach, expands Argent Financial’s portfolio management services, and gives the combined firms more than $4 billion in assets under management.

Highland Capital Management, founded in Memphis 25 years ago, is an investment advisory firm specializing in the management of equity and fixed income portfolios for clients in the private, corporate and public sectors.

Argent Financial Group is a full-service wealth management firm that provides clients with a broad array of financial services built from its core of trust management.  The combined entity of Argent Financial and Highland Capital will be responsible for more than $4.3 billion in client assets.   Following completion of the merger, Highland Capital will retain its name and management team, led by Steve Wishnia, president of Highland Capital.  Argent will continue doing business through its other subsidiaries under the Argent brand name, according to Kyle McDonald, founder and chief executive officer of Argent Financial Group.

Wishnia will join Argent Financial Group’s board of directors.  Current Argent portfolio managers are projected to join Highland during the current year as the two firms combine portfolio management resources under the Highland Capital banner.  The expanded Highland Capital team will provide oversight and ongoing management for all portfolio management functions of the combined firms.

“We believe there are significant opportunities resulting from the combination of Argent Financial Group and Highland Capital, and that we fit well together, both professionally and culturally,” Wishnia said. “Importantly, Highland will now have access to a much broader geographic presence to deliver portfolio management services.” 

Highland Capital’s extensive experience in portfolio management expands Argent’s ability to deliver a full range of client services, including trust and retirement plan administration, comprehensive investment management, and mineral (oil and gas) wealth management.

“Combining resources with Steve Wishnia and the team at Highland Capital offers our growing client base access to additional portfolio management expertise,” McDonald said. “We already have a significant presence in Tennessee, and the opportunity to combine with a proven, respected firm such as Highland is a perfect fit.  We look forward to working with Steve and his team to provide customized wealth management services to existing and new clients.” 

 

 

SAFER NAMED TO ADVISOR HALL OF FAME
 

Nashville, TN – Howard Safer was recently named to Research magazine’s 2012 Advisor Hall of Fame. Safer is CEO for Argent Trust Company, a subsidiary of Argent Financial Group, Inc. He serves as Trust Advisor offering investment, estate and family office services.

Candidates must pass rigorous screening processes to be considered for his high honor. They must have a minimum of 15 years of industry experience, have acquired substantial assets under management, demonstrate superior client service and have earned recognition from their peers and the broader community for the honor they reflect upon their profession.

Safer served early on in his career as controller for a New York Stock Exchange public company, as chief financial officer of a substantial private company and as managing partner of a 90-person CPA and consulting firm. He later served as president of the iconic J.C. Bradford Trust, a $900 million company, from its founding in 1993 until 2000 when parent J.C. Bradford was sold to Paine Webber. After that, he headed the Nashville office of the $25 billion Regions Morgan Keegan Trust for 12 year. In an echo of his move from Bradford to Regions, he joined Argent in April of 2012 when Morgan Keegan was sold to Raymond James.

“Howard Safer continues to enhance his outstanding reputation, not only in the Nashville area market, but also throughout our wealth management industry.  The commitment to excellent client service consistently demonstrated by Howard and his team made their joining Argent both a natural and exciting combination.” said Kyle McDonald, President and CEO of Argent Financial Group, Inc.

Safer and daughter Mindy Hirt, Vice President, oversee about $250 million in assets for 60 households. Senior investment strategist Frank Hosse completes their client service team which comprises half of the professionals in Argent’s Nashville office.

Hirt, a certified financial planner, says of Safer: “He has been a great mentor. He’s a great instiller of confidence, a master delegator and when he believes in you he definitely wants you to roll with it. He’s patient when he needs to be, and shows elements of impatience when things need to get done. He’s a real advocate for clients.”

Safer is actively involved with Guardianship and Trust Corporation and Jewish Family Services.

Click here to view article as seen in Research Magazine

About Argent Trust of Tennessee, Nashville Office:
The Nashville office of Argent Trust of Tennessee is located at One American Center,  3100 West End Avenue, Suite #150, Nashville, TN  37203 and can be reached at (615) 385-2345.  For more information, visit www.argentmoney.com.

About Argent Financial Group:
Argent Financial Group, domiciled in Ruston, Louisiana, was formed in 1990 and traces its roots back to 1930.  Responsible for more than $2.5 billion in client assets, Argent Financial Group is a diversified financial services entity providing individuals and businesses in the mid-South with a broad range of financial services including trust administration and related services, investment management, retirement plan and charitable organization administration, mineral (oil and gas) management, financial, retirement and estate planning, and brokerage services (offered through LPL Financial). For more information, visit www.argentmoney.com.

 

Trust officer makes 'Top 30 Under 30' list
Published in Business First, The University of Mississippi, September 17, 2012
By Edwin Smith

Although Brooks McDonald (BBA 07) is not yet 30 years old, she has accomplished much in the five years since she moved to Nashville. The vice president and trust officer of Argent Trust of Tennessee was named to Music City's "Top 30 Under 30" list of professionals for 2012, attesting to her achievements.

"After the initial shock that I had been selected for Top 30 Under 30, I couldn't help but feel extremely flattered," said the Ruston, La., native. "Nashville is full of determined, vibrant, young professionals—one of the big reasons why the city is so great. So to be selected with these other recipients is a recognition that I hope will draw attention to the importance of applying the work ethic and values that I learned at Ole Miss to my professional life and involvement in the community."

McDonald works with Circle of Hope, which raises awareness of and funding for cystic fibrosis research.

"CF has always been a major concern for me because I have a family and friends who have been directly affected by this disease," she said. "Now that I have the opportunity to be more involved in helping find a cure, I am very committed to supporting the cause."

Blair McDonald Hull (BBA 09, MBA 10) was not shocked to see her older sister be honored in this manner.

"Brooks has always had a knack for connecting with people in all areas of her life and maintaining relationships with them," said Hull, assistant compliance officer at Argent Fiduciary Consulting Services.

"While at Ole Miss, she was voted by the campus body as a campus favorite and to represent them as a homecoming maid," Hull said. "Brooks has always wanted to excel at everything she puts her mind to while helping the people around her along the way. I think Nashville's Top 30 Under 30 is the perfect recognition for her because it is a display of her work ethic, giving heart and social personality."

The honoree, who also has a certification in trust administration and estate planning from the Cannon Trust School, remembers what led her to her alma mater.

"The summer before my senior year in high school, I went on an SEC college tour with my father and younger sister, Blair. I grew up in Louisiana, and from the time I can remember I have been an LSU fan," McDonald said.

"Blair announced that Ole Miss is where she would be attending school in two years, but it took me a few more months to follow my younger sister's decision. In the spring, when it was past time to make my final decision, I chose Ole Miss for the size, the charm and the welcoming feeling that everyone I met on my visits to Oxford gave me."

McDonald remembers UM accountancy instructor Suzanne McCaffrey and Andre Peter Liebenberg, the Gwennette P. and Jack W. Robertson Chair of Insurance, as having been especially helpful in her education from the School of Business Administration, which gave her a foundation for her career in finance.

"Their way of teaching was more applicable and insightful than just theory. I had them my senior year, which was a perfect transition from the classroom to the workforce," she said.

Her father, Kyle McDonald, founded the Argent Financial Group in Ruston, La. Brooks McDonald then became one of the trust officers and helped develop the family business in Memphis. Using her connections with Avenue Bank, she moved back to Nashville and opened the office there.

"I not only utilized the knowledge I gained, but the network and support that the alumni of Ole Miss provide, which is also important," she said. "I moved to Nashville right when an Ole Miss business school alum, Ron Samuels, was starting a Nashville community bank. I was one of Ron's first hires at Avenue Bank, and I often joke that I only got the job because of where I went to school.

"Ron is one of the most respected businessmen in Nashville, and, even though I now work for a different company, he has remained my most valued mentor."

Hull was working for PricewaterhouseCoopers in Washington, D.C., when she got engaged to Drew Hull (MBA 10), which brought her back to the South. "It just so happened that the opportunity to work for our father's company occurred at the same time," said Hull who resides in Jackson, Miss., and works from home.

Hull said it was helpful having McDonald at Ole Miss to show her the ropes. Her favorite professor in the MBA program was Robert Van Ness, Tom B. Scott Chair of Financial Instruction and director of the doctoral program in finance.

"What he taught me I used not only in my first job, but I also use the knowledge now, while working in our investment group," she said

 

 

Safer's Secrets
Published in the Nashville Post on June 7, 2012
by Philip Nannie

 

Veteran trust banker talks about new Argent gig, always being willing ‘to be our client’s designated worrier’.

Most folks believe that business success mixed with passion and topped off with a dollop of humility is a nice amalgamation of personal traits not often found in the rough-and-tumble world of trust and investment management. And few locals represent that combination better than Howard G. Safer, who this spring jumped from Regions Morgan Keegan Trust to be CEO of Argent Trust Co., a division of a Louisiana-based holding company that opened a West End office in April.

Safer is an accountant, something his detractors in 1993 thought would derail his first foray into trust banking waters at what would become Bradford Trust Co. In their mind, an accountant would need more “outside-the-box” skills to make it in a cutting-edge investment world that requires significant levels of malleability.

They were right about the skills — but wrong about Safer.

Safer agreed to answer a few questions for the Nashville Post, giving us a glimpse at the man behind several successful trust and investment management companies birthed in the past two decades in a town once known as the Wall Street of the South.

Q. Early on, before the introduction of trust services to J.C. Bradford, what made you confident a brokerage mindset could ever effectively combine with a trust banking mindset?
My earlier career was as managing partner of Kraft Brothers, Nashville’s largest local CPA firm. Looking at the investment and banking worlds from an independent perspective then, I developed a good understanding of what clients desired. They wanted a new paradigm investment/trust provider that was perceived to be safe, secure and at the highest level of fiduciary protection along with the open architecture that was available in the investment firm world.

Q. Talk about some of the obstacles early on. How important was it for you to have folks “buy in” and quickly contribute to what you wanted Bradford Trust to be?
Starting a de novo business is always a challenge and the biggest challenge is attracting great — not just good — people. Nashville is an attractive place to be and made it easier to find an experienced operations officer from San Diego and an experienced attorney (and former probate Judge) from Kentucky, who were excited to join the team. Sharing the “new paradigm” story was the key to our recruiting success, as each professional understood the changes that needed to occur in the investment/trust world.

Q. How does bringing Argent to the market as a new player in 2012 compare to launching Bradford Trust in 1993?
The biggest change is that Argent can take advantage of all of almost 20 years of technology advances since then. They include things like robust open architecture for investment choices, state-of-the-art back-office accounting and administrative programs and a more refined fiduciary operating environment to protect client assets.

At Bradford Trust, we were inventing the broker-affiliated trust platform. At Argent, we’re building on the most advanced investment/trust platform available for independent trust companies.

Q. You have a small team now. How big do you want to be in three years? And do new hires have to be senior professionals already in this market?We are planning manageable growth of senior professionals and estimate doubling in three years. We have already had conversations with other investment/trust entities that could accelerate our growth.

The financial services industry is seeing the migration of professionals from large brokerage to more boutique registered investment advisors and trust firms at an accelerated pace. We are perfectly positioned to meet the need of investors and providers who are looking for a new paradigm.

Q. What was the dollar amount of assets under the Bradford Trust umbrella before the PaineWebber takeover? And beyond pure dollars, what were some of the other benchmarks or goals your team achieved?
In seven years, we grew assets from zero to almost $1 billion, zero to over 30 staff and hundreds of satisfied clients all across the Southeast. The first real mark of success came at the five-year mark, when we were named to Worth Magazine’s Best 100 Advisors. The second was when my mother asked me to manage her financial needs. Another benchmark came after about 10 years when the number of CPA and attorney referrals started to increase rapidly.

Q. You created a successful trust/brokerage model at Bradford and, as far as I can tell, duplicated that model as Bradford morphed into PaineWebber and you moved on to Regions Morgan Keegan. Why has it worked and what did you see that others didn’t?
Every financial service firm has the same goals. I have numerous “vision” paperweights on my desk — from Bradford, Morgan Keegan, Regions... — and they all have many similarities. The differentiating key is execution. Having the best client servicing team possible, delegating appropriately and encouraging individual growth can work wonders in helping to exceed client expectations.

Q. Usually, when trust leaders change positions, companies or roles, they lose something in the process. Clients don’t like change and often there’s a fall off and it’s difficult to move one’s full book of business to another firm. How have you managed this?
We have never set up a one-size-fits-all model. We have worked hard to customize and modify our service to the unique needs of various clients and their complex family interrelationships. All of us have times when difficult issues confront us and our financial and family governance experience is limited. We are always willing to help coordinate clients’ special needs with other advisors. We are always willing to be their “designated worrier.” This includes the 3 Ds — divorce, disability and death — as well as issues surrounding the happier life cycle events. It’s very gratifying to have clients that trust us enough to make changes, and we appreciate their affirmation of the value in what we do.

Q. Speak to the state of the trust and money management business in Nashville. What’s the level of competition and where do you want the Nashville office to be in five years?
The trust/money management business is growing with numerous out-of-state firms wanting to come to the progressive trust environment here in Tennessee, which is top five in the country. Over the past few years, we have visited with numerous firms that want to know more about Nashville and Tennessee.
Argent compares very well when considering all the important factors such as investment platform, administrative resources and progressive client service culture.

We believe many will agree with our analysis and that significant growth will occur over the next five years.

Q. You referenced the more attractive trust banking climate in Tennessee. Is the overall trust market growing or do you need to take share from established companies to succeed?
Tennessee’s trust companies will be growing more in the next 10 years than the last 10. The growth will come from both new and existing prospects, from both in and out of state. Hats off to the Tennessee Legislature for being forward-thinking in providing our industry with a much better platform than we had just a few years ago. We’re already ahead of all other Southeastern and Southwestern states





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