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Silver Linings

by Matthew Hornaday, CPA

The year 2020 was a remarkable year in many ways and forced each individual throughout the world to adapt to new norms in unimaginable ways.  As our firm responded to the COVID-19 pandemic, we made decisions guided by the original vision of our founders: to make an impactful, positive difference in the lives of our clients, their families, and our employees.  While there is much of 2020 we hope to never experience again, there were several silver linings that we celebrate:

Sticking to a Long-Term Financial Plan: We develop comprehensive long-term financial plans for our clients to first preserve then grow and transfer assets.  The importance of sticking to a long-term financial plan was highlighted in 2020.  The market downturn in March and April 2020 provided us an opportunity to ground our clients in their long-term financial plans, discuss if these goals had changed (most had not), and, if not, reinforce to our clients the importance of sticking to their long-term financial plan and remaining invested.  Sticking to a long-term financial plan won the day again, our clients let the markets work for them, and the temporary declines our clients experienced have since reversed in a significant way.

Deepening Connection: The COVID-19 pandemic has forced each of us to focus on what is most important in our lives and be present in ways not previously experienced.  It has been easier to prioritize in this context.  We have worked hard to maintain and deepen connection with each client.  Internally, we deepened connection via numerous platforms for employees to share firm-wide messages daily, ranging from sharing a meaningful life event or story to sharing each employee’s favorite charity (after which Trust Company provided a meaningful contribution to each).

Remarkable Employee Flexibility: Our employee team of 31 was resilient in adapting to a remote work environment in 2020.  Most of our team pivoted to work from home, we automated highly manual processes, became experts at screen sharing (via Microsoft Teams) and virtual meetings (via GoToMeeting), and established a virtual office setting to foster enhanced communication and connection.

Leading with Grace: Our journey through 2020 was not perfect, and we all had days when we did not feel like ourselves and felt down or depressed.  However, we continued to provide each other grace, which enabled us to emerge much stronger.  Grace soothed fears, calmed anger, and provided peace in an uncertain year.

Navigating the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 forced us to prioritize, strengthen, and deepen.  As we turn the page to a new year, we remain committed to serving our clients as an independent and objective fiduciary – always prioritizing our clients’ interests ahead of our own.  Thank you for your continued trust in our firm.

Matthew Hornaday is Chief Operating Officer and a Principal in Trust Company’s Greensboro office.  In addition to managing client family relationships and several nonprofit client relationships, Matthew is also responsible for establishing and enhancing Trust Company’s operational controls, procedures and people systems, ensuring the continued financial strength and efficiency of the company.