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Insights

Not the Same, But Better

by Leah Jane Barnwell, CRPC®

It has been a truly extraordinary couple of years. In the world, in this country, and right here at home in North Carolina. As Americans, we are deeply rooted in the belief that we should always be moving forward – toward progress, toward “more,” toward better.

Two years ago, largely without warning, a global pandemic stopped the world in its tracks, confined whole populations of cities to their homes, and forced us all to sit still for a while. We stayed away from friends and family, masked up, and wondered if life as we knew it would ever be the same.

The idea of going “forward” was now a question of how and when, when it had always seemed to be such a sure thing. Many suffered hardship and loss, some found silver linings; no matter your experience, it’s safe to say we’re all emerging from this time changed.

During a particularly challenging time early in my career, I called a college friend who had recently moved to New York to pursue her dreams in the fashion industry. She listened as I shared all the troubles of my day and expressed doubts about the path I had chosen, and at the end of it all, she offered advice that has stuck with me for many years since that conversation. “Adversity is good for you,” she said, “It forces you to grow in ways you might not have, if there wasn’t something in your way.”

Those words are as true today as they were then. As a firm and like so many other businesses, Trust Company has experienced many challenges in the last two years, and out of that experience, we’ve realized we had the capacity to grow even while others stood still.

We grew as players on a team, seamlessly picking up the slack when a teammate needed to take time for family or experienced illness. We grew as professionals, quickly adopting remote work technologies and developing new communication protocols to keep the matters of daily business on track. We grew as a community, finding creative ways to maintain meaningful communication with our colleagues and clients from afar.

When faced with adversity, we confirmed that we can and will rise to the occasion for clients who depend on us, even if it means getting through one day at a time and wearing as many hats as it takes to “get it done.”

Thanks to the tireless efforts of leadership and our HR department, we came to know and appreciate our coworkers in new ways. Through one of many initiatives (dubbed “TCTS Cribs”, a reboot of the MTV classic), we got a tour of the favorite features of their homes and met their pets, through another we learned about the charitable causes close to their hearts, and we found ways to work better together by understanding the personality types that make each of us tick. A most unexpected silver lining, indeed — our firm culture deepened during our time at home and apart.

As we put the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic behind us, we find new ways to move forward together.

We learned that while there’s no substitute for face-to-face interaction, we can come pretty close to that experience with a great webcam – shortening the distance between us and our clients, between staff from different offices, and giving us the ability to work with vendors across the country as if we are sitting on two sides of the same table.

Out of necessity and under pressure, our successful adoption of innovative technologies allowed us to streamline many of our day-to-day procedures and reduce our dependence on manual and paper-based processes. We’ll use this newfound tech momentum to onboard and adopt two significant new platforms this year – both of which will further enhance our client experience. Pre-pandemic, we may have split these initiatives across multiple years to avoid over-taxing staff – we now understand that our team is ready and willing to tackle whatever comes.

We’ve enjoyed substantial growth in our relationships, welcoming new employees and new clients, and expanding into new spaces in Greensboro, Raleigh and Charlotte. In 2022, Trust Company will celebrate 30 years of exemplary wealth management and fiduciary service to our clients and communities in the southeast and beyond. We go into this next chapter not the same as we were, but better – more nimble, more appreciative, more committed to our shared mission than ever before.

As Trust Company’s Project Manager, Leah Jane works across the firm to support strategic goals through the implementation of marketing, technology and process development initiatives.