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Sherry takes over Arden Trust with aim to grow

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GREENVILLE – Wealth management industry veteran Doug Sherry was recently named the new president of Arden Trust Company, which administers more than $9 billion in assets.

Arden Trust Co. President Doug Sherry | PHOTO COURTESY OF ARDEN TRUST

Sherry joins Arden as longtime President Michael Roberts retires after more than a decade at the helm. Roberts grew the company’s assets under administration from about $600 million when he took over then-Reliance Trust Company of Delaware to about $9.2 billion today. The company rebranded the Arden name in 2019 after it was acquired by Texas-based private equity firm Kestra Financial.

In stepping down, Roberts will serve as president emeritus until the end of the year, essentially as an advisor to Sherry, and take a seat on Arden’s board as an outside director.

“Doug brings a wealth of managerial and operational insight to Arden Trust,” Roberts said in a statement announcing the hire. “We’re confident he will utilize his broad skill set to guide our firm toward continued growth, and we firmly believe he is the right person to ensure the success of Arden Trust long into the future.”

Sherry comes with 28 years of experience in the industry, working at some of the largest wealth management banks in the country, including JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America and Wells Fargo. He most recently served as national director of administration for U.S. Bank.

Sherry said that he was approached by a recruiting firm about the opportunity at Arden and he was intrigued about running a nimbler operation than those at some of the largest banks in the world.

“I would compare the large banks to something like an aircraft carrier and trying to get them to turn takes a whole lot of effort and a whole lot of time to get them going in a different direction versus a smaller organization like at Arden Trust, where we can pivot relatively quickly,” he said.

Unlike many big banks in the wealth management industry, Arden actively works with a client’s existing financial advisers and accountants as it serves as trustee rather than requiring a client to utilize comprehensive services. That relationship with other trust professionals has helped Arden to grow its reputation and market its services.

Of the 5,000 or so trusts under administration, the average total is about $2.5 million, Sherry said. The range runs from hundreds of thousands to tens of millions though.

Although Arden has typically sought $1 million or more to enact a company relationship, which could include multiple trusts under one account, Sherry said that he wants to investigate potentially reaching clientele with fewer assets – possibly $750,000 and up.

“That’s something we’re going to be investigating over the next several months and looking at from a profitability standpoint, but it certainly has the opportunity to open up not just a bigger piece of the pie, but a bigger pie overall,” he explained, noting that creditor protection trusts, special needs trusts and trusts for minor children are the most popular products today.

That new asset threshold may help Arden reach Sherry’s first big goal: growing to $12 billion in assets under administration by 2023, or about a 10% increase annually.

That growth would also likely necessitate a growth in headcount, with Arden currently employing 96 across eight offices nationwide, including in Greenville, Los Angeles, Dallas, Atlanta, Milwaukee, Scottsdale, Ariz.; West Palm Beach, Fla.; and Jersey City, N.J. Sherry said that the next office for Arden would likely target the northern Midwest to reach a city like Chicago.

One of the advantages of being a Kestra company is that merger and acquisition is always a possibility to help grow the firm’s reach and resources, Sherry noted. Last year, it acquired a $400 million trust business from financial security company Northwestern Mutual in Milwaukee.

“[Kestra is] more than willing and happy to invest in our business and in the growth of our business. So, if the right acquisition target comes up, we will continue to look for those,” Sherry said.

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