Wednesday, Apr 26th

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You are here: Business Finance The Profitability of Openness
At $100 million, $100 thousand or $10 thousand, investors need a financial advisor who can be trusted. Too many in finance today look out for their own well-being at the expense of  clients – diametrically opposed to how advising should work. They give the industry a black eye and incur regulation aimed at stopping the worst abuses.

Steven Albrecht, CEO of Charter Trust Company, is a an investment manager with a deep sense of fiduciary responsibility. After working in most of the world's major financial centers, Albrecht settled in Concord, NH to mold the kind of company where he would like to work. Locally-owned, Charter has served New England since 1984.

Charter Trust's very structure is geared toward looking after the client. By adding professionals rather than management, somewhat akin to a law firm, it fosters an entrepreneurial spirit among the partners. Once a year financials are shared firm-wide, and everyone – down to the receptionist – shares in financial success, creating a personal stake in clients' well-being. “Anybody who does anything with clients, has to meet them directly. By sitting across the table and talking about their investments, their family, it's pretty hard to NOT realize this is real money, this is someone's livelihood,” explained Albrecht. Specializing in individual, family and privately held companies, Charter handles $1.5 billion in client accounts, mainly through great word-of-mouth.

Transparency and communication are key. When clients ask how their money is handled, Albrecht explained, “Real money managers want to tell you everything.” Albrecht is an all-around communicator, but his best communication project may be co-hosting a radio show. Today's financial industry is awash in unusable information. To make it more understandable, Albrecht and his colleagues approached a local radio station, developing a show called “Money Basics” whose popularity grew. After the station requested daily broadcasts, Charter built a studio right in its headquarters.

Charter Trust's charitable foundation, too, is totally designed from the client's perspective. Families can create a private foundation administered by the firm, allowing people to actively position their money to advance a cause close to their hearts.

Albrecht wants to do even better for clients, increasing Charter's profitability at the same time. Expanding geographically into more states is another goal, and he wants to make potential clients aware of other services, including accounting and the charitable foundation. Albrecht says, “We've had a better year every year for the last 12 years, and we'd like to continue that.”

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