Edmonds: A man you can Trust

Wednesday, July 13, 2005 at 1:00am

How much progress has the financial planning community made in Tennessee since the mid-1980s?

It has made tremendous strides. When I started in 1984 and told people I was a financial planner, I soon tried to come up with another term. People didn't really understand what financial planning was and thought I was just selling life insurance and mutual funds. In the last 20 years, financial planning as an industry has come into its own.

Are people still confused about the industry?

I still think there is some confusion among the public. Many of the companies are owned or controlled by entities that operate within different industries. These include, for example, the life insurance, brokerage and banking industries. One of the unique things about TrustCore is that we are an independent and objective firm. We don't have sales quotas or our own products, so it is easier for us to do what's best for our clients. We do have our own broker-dealer and clear our trades through Fidelity's clearing company, National Financial Services. But less than 1 percent of the money we manage is in Fidelity investments.

Darryl L. Edmonds, president and founder, TrustCore Financial Inc.
Hometown: Nashville
Education: Degree in business administration, University of Tennessee, 1979
First conventional job: Employee benefits administrator, Benefit Communications Inc.
Hypothetical dream job: Deep-sea fishing guide
Edmonds is the founder and president of TrustCore Financial Inc., a full-service financial planning company Edmonds founded in 1984. Since its beginnings, the company has grown to become one of the largest independent wealth management firms in Tennessee, managing client assets in excess of $600 million. TrustCore works with clients with a minimum net worth of $250,000, with the potential to increase that figure to $1 million in a timely manner. Registered in 33 states, the Brentwood-based office has 16 support personnel and 20 planners.

No sales quotas or your own products? How effective is that?

It is unusual, but it helps us to maintain objectivity. We get paid a fee to provide comprehensive, professional financial planning advice. I'm getting paid to do my job in total and not based on a product. Because of this, I'm on the same side of the table as the clients and coordinating the various financial planning aspects of their lives.

Is that how TrustCore started?

Originally, I started out charging by the hour. But that didn't work for the company. For me to be effective, I've got to know more about a client financially than the client knows. Our current arrangement better encourages open lines of communication.

What about the company's future?

I think we're on target for where we want to be. Our new clients are growing at a good, solid rate. Admittedly, we can't work with everybody because our focus is on high-net-worth individuals.

What is TrustCore's main strength?

Our main strength is the 20 professionals and the more than 400 years of experience they have. For example, Virginia Mack just celebrated her 19th year with the company. The synergy of that core group of people allows them to help solve our clients' planning challenges.

What is the company's basic strategy?

We play the quarterback role. We work with our clients' CPAs, attorneys and trust officers, coordinating between the various parties. The uncommon synergy among our group breeds a progressive team environment. We closely monitor financial industry trends and economic conditions to constantly develop innovative solutions to meet the needs of our clients.

What is the company's main challenge?

One thing I wish we could do is help people who don't meet the TrustCore minimum net-worth requirement. I don't really think of that as a weakness because we don't really target that market. As far as challenges, it is difficult for us to find quality financial planners, people who are dedicated to the business and who meet our education and experience requirements.

What about company turnover?

We've had minimal turnover in 21 years.

What is the TrustCore ownership structure?

In 1993, I sold a portion of the company to some TrustCore planners. They still have that portion of ownership, and it has helped tremendously. Before they joined the management team, it was almost more than one person could handle. The depth and knowledge in management they've brought to the table has moved the company ahead exponentially.

TrustCore has four units. How does that business structure work?

We have a registered investment advisory firm, which provides financial planning for a fee. We have a business management company, which provides personalized service to high-net-worth individuals and families. And we have a broker dealer and insurance agency available to assist in implementing the financial plans if necessary.

How is TrustCore with customer service?

We have been a member of the National Association of Securities Dealers for 21 years. During that time, we've never had a formal written customer complaint, which is very unusual for a company this age. Everything we do from our business structure to how we deliver our services is in place to provide our clients with superior service using the latest technology and planning techniques. I would say our client retention is in the high 90 percent range.

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