Every twelve months, the award for “Word of the Year” is conferred upon that unique and special assemblage of letters which, in its entirety, best represents “the public discourse and preoccupations of the past year”.

In 2016, the honor went to the phrase: dumpster fire.

Even though that choice may have felt justified at times, the American Dialect Society deserves credit for its creativity and panache. However, in a more literal and general sense, perhaps the first and second runners up may have been “disruption” or “fiduciary”.

In response to news of my new role as Digital Advice Manager, a financial advisor recently asked me how one might leverage our “new” digital advice services to provide the best possible advice to mutual clients and to further align one’s own advisory practice with the needs of its clients. The essence of this question is a common theme across all of our client bases: advisor partners, plan sponsors, plan participants, and private wealth clients.

The answer is simple: Unified Trust’s digital advice initiative deepens our commitment to build upon our strong foundation and deep experience with digital advice to champion the development and delivery of memorable, outcomes-driven, financial solutions.

While FinTech start-ups and offshoots have embraced disruptive innovation, the fundamental mechanics of financial services are largely unchanged. Even when acting as a fiduciary, the industry trends toward a narrow rather than broad fiduciary scope, and even though conflicts of interest are managed better today than in the past, proprietary services and platforms persist. The best designed, open loop, advice engines will continue to succumb to the same vicious cycle of misuse as individuals override advice based on general rules of thumb and biases seen in retirement and financial planning.

Digital advice is important, but digital discretion remains the solution!

As a fiduciary and discretionary trustee, Unified Trust is uniquely equipped to deliver meaningful, closed loop, digital advice solutions to institutional and private investors. Our experience in the field and record for improving outcomes supports this. We are a trusted partner to our clients, and our steadfast commitment to improving outcomes will continue to foster the social capital which makes being a client of Unified Trust such a positive and galvanizing experience. In this turbulent age of uncertainty and risk, Unified Trust delivers—and will continue to grow—a network of solutions built on trust and loyalty.

Over the coming months and years, Unified Trust’s digital advice services will not only support our continued efforts to drive better, more reliable, client outcomes; it will also make the delivery of those services easier for our partners, redefine an overdue retirement planning pedagogy, and continue staging a truly meaningful experience for our clients and partners.

About Michael Samford view all posts

Michael Samford has been a member of the Unified Trust team since 2007 serving in capacities which include operations, sales and marketing, client service consulting, and advisory services. As Digital Advice Manager, he will guide Unified Trust’s digital advice strategy to deliver a high-quality, innovative, digital advice experience that is memorable and inspirational. Michael’s interests in outcomes coaching and experience engineering are fostered through more than a decade of experience with Unified Trust’s innovative and discretionary approach to financial and retirement planning. He contributes to Unified Trust Company’s fiduciary investment process as a member of the Trust Investment Committee and serves on the firm’s Trust Executive Committee. Prior to Unified Trust, Michael attended Centre College and graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Financial Economics. He currently holds the Qualified Plan Financial Consultant (QPFC) designation offered by the American Society of Pension Professionals and Actuaries (ASPPA) as well as the Accredited Investment Fiduciary (AIF®) credential through Fiduciary 360°.