Author Archive for Taryn Clark

Argent Financial Group Employee Spotlight – Mike Jones

In celebration of our parent company’s 30th anniversary, this week’s 30-year employee spotlight is Mike Jones, managing director/investment services of Argent Advisors.

What led you to Argent and what makes it unique?

Having graduated from Louisiana Tech University I was already familiar with Ruston, Louisiana. My wife and I desired to raise our family in a setting like Ruston and that was the initial draw. Ironically, I felt that meant I would be working for a small investment firm. Never could I imagine that we would grow to the size that we are today.

Why do you enjoy working at Argent?

The mission. The people. The flexibility. I do not take my responsibilities lightly. It helps that I am accompanied in my duties with a team of cohorts that have my respect, admiration and loyalty. We have a special bond which I pray will never be broken.

What does the company mean to you?

One’s work should not define an individual. Who we are and what makes us unique should go far deeper. But our work can and should contribute to that identity. Argent does that for me. It would be most difficult to imagine my life over the last 30 years without this company.

Recount a favorite memory or project from your time at Argent: 

It has to be when a customer of mine accidentally gave me the wrong ticker for a stock and I decided to do a little research on it. We both bought some and it went from four dollars to $40 in the scope of the month. We sold it and two weeks later it was worth $600 a share. How can one not forget the days of the internet bubble! 

What is on your wish list for the next 10 years with Argent?

I want to take my staff to Switzerland, my favorite country outside of the USA.

What is a random fact about you?

I have ridden a bike to the highest paved road in all of Europe. Five hours up, two hours down.

Argent Financial Group Employee Spotlight – Lucius McGehee

In celebration of Argent Financial Group’s 30th anniversary, we are excited to shine the spotlight on employees who have been with the company since the beginning! We start with Lucius McGehee, who serves as Argent’s executive vice president of institutional services.

What led you to Argent and what makes it unique? 

This might sound mundane, but I was looking for a steady job to get on my feet after the economic downturn (savings & loan crisis/oil bust). I had married in late January 1990, I was looking for a good job to start my family. I was in Dallas at the time and jobs were hard to come by.

What does the company mean to you? 

This is a difficult question. It means so many things. A safe place to work. A place where dreams were made and dreams came true. A place where I grew up (not too much 😊!).

Why do you enjoy working at Argent?  

Argent gave me the opportunity to grow both professionally and personally. I had the privilege to experience every facet of wealth management (even IT!), find a great place to use my talents and build a team, and that team became extremely successful. Many of us have had the opportunity to pursue our strengths and either build or work with a team to create something special for those we serve and those we serve with.

Recount a favorite memory or project from your time at Argent:  

Just starting at Argent, the personal computer was just catching on. I produced a slideshow presentation for a board meeting that could be shown on a computer screen. No one had ever seen anything like that before, even on the monochrome monitors. It was otherworldly and management (we were owned by Ruston State Bank at the time) came to our office just to see it.

What has been your proudest moment at Argent?  

My proudest moment was when we converted our trust accounting system the first time in 2002. The hard work of our conversion team allowed for a seamless conversion of all our data over a weekend so that there was no internal or external disruption of service to the client or staff.

What is on your wish list for the next 10 years with Argent?

To ride off into the sunset knowing that Argent’s client centric focus is still intact, that those we have brought up and trained are more capable than those of us that began.

What’s the biggest trend you see in your field right now?

In philanthropic and governmental work, value and technology are the trend. Does your offering bring value to the table? Typically that value will include technology, but it will never outweigh personal service and relationship building.

What is a random fact about you?

I’ve held 13 different positions in my career at Argent.

What is your favorite quote?

“Stay in the moment.” Or, one that always would put a smile on my face: My father used to reply when asked how he was doing “Well, I feel pretty good, but not as good as I look…”

If you could have any other job for one day, what would it be?

It’s a tie between NBA/MLB executive and an American history teacher. The tiebreaker is if the students are interested in learning history or not! 

If you could meet anyone, dead or alive, who would it be and why?

Jesus Christ. Who else can tell of death AND life?

What’s your favorite thing to do in Ruston?

Eat! I don’t miss many meals. The local restaurants are wonderful

What motivates you?

Seeing those on my team succeed.

Lucius at his desk in our foundational years.

Building a 30-Year-Company, One Relationship at a Time

Kyle McDonald

By Kyle McDonald
Chief Executive Officer, Argent Financial Group

Soon after Argent entered its 30th year just a few months ago, the Coronavirus Pandemic hit this nation. Our reaction to this catastrophe, I believe, offers a window into why this company has succeeded for 30 years – and is prepared to succeed for generations to come.

I am suspicious of grand plans. There is too much we don’t know and can’t control about the future to make grand plans feasible. Of course, we should think ahead, be aware of possible obstacles and opportunities, prepare for what we know to be probable, or even, possible. But I don’t believe we should obsess about controlling what will happen tomorrow, or next year, or 30 years from now. Because we can’t control it.

Instead, I believe in focusing on what is important and being aware of what is happening around me in case an opportunity arises to do something that really matters. This is also the philosophy of our company. So, when faced with the Coronavirus Pandemic, we were guided by what is most important to us: providing exemplary client service. 

Great client service is always personal service, which is why we made sure that relationship managers were our primary mode of communication with clients during this stressful time. Not social media campaigns or email blasts or similar corporate-wide approaches.

Now, this was not a complicated thing to do, because it is how we operate every day. And, because we follow this decentralized, personalized business model, we were able to be very nimble and responsive to client needs throughout the crisis. We didn’t need (or want) a grand plan for our entire client base or a roomful of Gannt charts outlining every possible scenario. We were simply present for each client, making sure we were aware of what each person was facing, ready to act quickly if an individual situation arose that required it.

And that is how we built a 30-year-old company without a 30-year plan. We focused on what is important – taking care of clients – and stayed aware of what was happening around us. As opportunities arose that supported our mission, such as acquiring another company, we acted. But the goal was not to build a company of a particular size or age. It was to build a company that took really good care of clients.

A young Kyle McDonald making a presentation in the early days of Argent.

I think this approach – which flows from our “humble confidence” philosophy – is why Argent Financial Group is not only celebrating 30 years, but is also a very strong company positioned to be around for a long time. We care about the company’s long term sustainably because it is essential to taking care of our clients. Our clients depend on us to be there not just for themselves, but also for their children and grand-children and great-grand-children and beyond. 

And we plan to be. One relationship at a time.

 

Update and info on COVID-19 for March 6, 2020

BY: JOHN McCOLLUM
Chief Investment Officer / Argent Trust Company

The Argent Trust Asset Allocation and Strategy group continues to monitor and evaluate the current market environment and the global impact of the spread of the Coronavirus. As we wrote before, there is a great deal of information and speculation floating around about the severity of the virus and the potential impacts both for global health and the global economy. We still believe the best thing we can do is to focus on primary sources of information about the virus. We have updated some of that information below.

There continues to be significant volatility as both equity and fixed income markets around the world digest the latest news and refine expectations for economic impact. So far this week, the S&P 500 has declined slightly although the path to this point has included daily swings in excess of 3%. The volatility is not surprising given the lack of concrete information. Since recent highs in mid-February, the S&P 500 has declined about 12%. Bond prices continue to rally and the yield on the 10 Yr. Treasury has fallen dramatically to a record low yield below 0.75%. While these equity price changes are significant and have been rapid, they are not unusual in a historical context.

It seems financial markets, however, are beginning to assume more significant economic impacts. We shouldn’t assume, however, that all trading, and therefore securities price changes, are necessarily the result of a re-assessment of the impact of COVID-19. We have an upcoming election in the US which certainly could affect securities markets and valuations. Modern markets also tend to have a large volume of trading which is based on momentum, hedging, and other short term factors. Additionally, volatility tends to create more volatility as fears and emotions take a larger role in determining daily securities price movements.

The latest economic data (this morning’s jobs report in particular) are quite strong. However, when the impact of telecommuting, reduced travel, school and business closings and other measures taken to try to limit the spread of the virus begins to show up in reported data, we will almost certainly see the effects. We still cannot determine the near term impacts of these measures. We also cannot determine how long the impact of these measures may last.

As we said before, when investing, we know there is always the possibility for unforeseen adverse events. History and experience has taught us that being willing and prepared to tolerate volatility allows investors to better benefit from long term growth and compounding. The best way to prepare for the appearance of an event or period of uncertainty is to develop an investment plan which considers time horizons and risk levels. We know there will always be volatility, we just don’t know when it will occur, what will trigger it, or how long it will last. We will look for ways to benefit from the volatility when opportunities are presented.

As securities valuations have risen over recent years, in some cases faster than underlying earnings growth may have warranted, we have advised investors to be diligent in reviewing their asset allocations and reconfirming their time horizons. Our portfolio managers are already carefully looking at opportunities which may be created by the selling and market declines while being mindful that there is much yet to be known about the extent and impact of the spread of this virus.

We will continue to monitor the situation and keep you updated.

What is the Coronavirus?

“Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with MERS-CoVSARS-CoV, and now with this new virus (named SARS-CoV-2).” (1)

What we know:

  • Approximately 95,000 cases so far globally; confirmed cases in 86 total countries; c. 15,000 outside China with these numbers rapidly changing; vast majority of new cases are being reported outside of China (4)
  • The CDC has reported community spreading in CA, OR, and WA and there are numerous other states with reported cases.
  • We previously noted the following about the severity of the illness:
      • Most people who become infected experience mild illness and recover, but it can be more severe for others. (2)
      • WHO Director General reports the fatality rate is between 2% and 4% in Wuhan, and 0.7% outside Wuhan. (6)
      • It takes between 2 and 10 days before people who are infected become sick and develop a fever (4)
  • The latest commentary from the CDC on the severity of the illness: The complete clinical picture with regard to COVID-19 is not fully understood. Reported illnesses have ranged from mild to severe, including illness resulting in death. While information so far suggests that most COVID-19 illness is mild, a report out of China suggests serious illness occurs in 16% of cases. Older people and people with certain underlying health conditions like heart disease, lung disease and diabetes, for example, seem to be at greater risk of serious illness.” (1)
  • Latest CDC situation update warns  “More cases of COVID-19 are likely to be identified in the coming days, including more cases in the United States. It’s also likely that person-to-person spread will continue to occur, including in communities in the United States. It’s likely that at some point, widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the United States will occur.” (1)
  • So, “by the numbers” the actual direct impact (sicknesses and deaths) have been very few (relative to global population); the bigger concern, for now, still seems to be the impact of the “containment” efforts
  • While no vaccine exists, NIH announced Feb 25 that rapidly developed initial trials had begun in with an initial patient participant in Nebraska; we are not aware of any updates to these trials. (7)
  • However, CDC warns the following:
    • “It’s also likely that person-to-person spread will continue to occur, including in the United States. Widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the United States would translate into large numbers of people needing medical care at the same time. Schools, childcare centers, workplaces, and other places for mass gatherings may experience more absenteeism. Public health and healthcare systems may become overloaded, with elevated rates of hospitalizations and deaths. Other critical infrastructure, such as law enforcement, emergency medical services, and transportation industry may also be affected. Health care providers and hospitals may be overwhelmed. At this time, there is no vaccine to protect against COVID-19 and no medications approved to treat it. Nonpharmaceutical interventions would be the most important response strategy.”

It is that last sentence, we think, that has frightened the markets with the implication of quarantines and other restrictions similar to what has occurred in China and other places and the economic impacts such measures may cause. We should expect continued volatility as news, good and bad, continues to be digested by markets. As previously stated, we will continue to monitor the situation and keep our clients and professional partners updated.

Resources:

Notes:

Argent Financial Group Employee Spotlight – Melissa Harty

Q: What led you to Argent and what makes it unique?

A: I got hired at Argent through a hiring agency. It is unique because I hadn’t heard of Argent before, even though it was in my hometown. I was encouraged to do an interview with the company, and I am so glad that I did! I’m very grateful to be here!

Q: Why do you enjoy working at Argent?

A: I enjoy working at Argent because of the super friendly and family atmosphere! I have never worked with a company that truly knows what being a TEAM means until I landed here, I truly
feel I have a work family! I enjoy my job because of it and look forward to coming to work every day when I have that type of environment to work in.

Q: What does the company mean to you?

A: Argent means to have a career opportunity that I did not have before. This was everything I was looking for in a job! I needed a long term position, where I could grow and learn, and eventually
move up, and Argent provides that! I can take care of myself and my family, without worrying when I’m out when something comes up. It’s peace of mind and heart! It means so much to have all that Argent provides!

Q: What is a random fact about you?

A: I absolutely love jazz music!

Q: If you could meet anybody, dead or alive, who would it be?

A: It would have to be Drew Brees. He is so humble and is one of the best quarterbacks in my opinion. And he plays for my favorite team of course, go Saints!

Update and info on COVID-19

BY: JOHN McCOLLUM
Chief Investment Officer / Argent Trust Company

John McCollum

The Argent Trust Asset Allocation and Strategy group met yesterday and discussed the current market environment and the global impact of the spread of the Coronavirus. There is a great deal of information and speculation floating around about the severity of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) and the potential impacts both for global health and the global economy. We believe the best thing we can do is to focus on primary sources of information about the virus. We have included some of that information below.

Global market reaction this week has been significant. Yesterday, the S&P 500 fell over 4% and equity markets around the world were similar. Since recent highs reached last week, the S&P 500 has declined over 12% and futures indicate another down day on Friday. Bond prices have rallied with the 10 Yr. Treasury reaching a record low yield below 1.30%.

It is becoming increasingly likely that there will be significant economic impacts outside of China from efforts to contain the spread of the virus. These containment efforts have already affected global supply chains and cross-border travel. While there has been some apparent improvement in Chinese economic activity as workers return and business re-open there, in other parts of the world, measures are just beginning.

When investing, we know there is always the possibility for unforeseen adverse events. History and experience have taught us that being willing and prepared to tolerate volatility allows investors to better benefit from long term growth and compounding. The best way to prepare for the appearance of an event or period of uncertainty is to develop an investment plan which considers time horizons and risk levels. We know there will always be volatility, we just don’t know when it will occur, what will trigger it, or how long it will last.

As securities valuations have risen over recent years, in some cases faster than underlying earnings growth may have warranted, we have advised investors to be diligent in reviewing their asset allocations and reconfirming their time horizons. Our portfolio managers are already carefully looking at opportunities, which may be created by the selling and market declines while being mindful that there is much yet to be known about the extent and impact of the spread of this virus.

We will continue to monitor the situation and keep our clients and professional partners updated.

What is the Coronavirus?

“Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses that are common in many different species of animals, including camels, cattle, cats, and bats. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people and then spread between people such as with MERS-CoVSARS-CoV, and now with this new virus (named SARS-CoV-2).” (1)

What we know:

  • Approximately 82,000 cases so far globally; confirmed cases in 9 new countries over the last 24 hours; c. 3600 outside China in 46 countries with these numbers rapidly changing (2)
  • While cases in China are (reportedly) flattening out, new cases are being reported in many new locations
  • Most people who become infected experience mild illness and recover, but it can be more severe for others. (2)
  • WHO Director General reports the fatality rate is between 2% and 4% in Wuhan, and 0.7% outside Wuhan. (6)
  •  it takes between 2 and 10 days before people who are infected become sick and develop a fever (4)
  • WHO has not declared it a “Pandemic” although we shouldn’t be too focused on what word is being used to describe the severity of this virus

Additional points:

  • Market reaction so far is based primarily on “what-if”; i.e. what-if efforts to slow/eliminate the spread of the virus choke-off economic activity
  • So, “by the numbers” the actual direct impact (sicknesses and deaths) have been very few (relative to global population); the bigger concern, for now, seems to be the impact of the “containment” efforts
  • It seems very likely that China Q1 GDP will show material impact, and there will be unknown but likely important downstream effects from that
  • Any other country that has significant outbreaks will likely take similar dramatic actions as China with similar downstream effects relative to the size of that country’s economy and global integration
  • Other countries, in efforts to prevent arrival of the virus, may make cross-border travel/trade more difficult, again with possibly significant downstream economic effects
  • While no vaccine exists, NIH announced Wednesday that rapidly developed initial trials had begun in with an initial patient participant in Nebraska
  • The CDC has reported developments which improve the availability of testing (5)
  • The CDC has reported 1 domestic case believed to have been spread by the “community”
  • However, CDC warns the following:
    • “It’s also likely that person-to-person spread will continue to occur, including in the United States. Widespread transmission of COVID-19 in the United States would translate into large numbers of people needing medical care at the same time. Schools, childcare centers, workplaces, and other places for mass gatherings may experience more absenteeism. Public health and healthcare systems may become overloaded, with elevated rates of hospitalizations and deaths. Other critical infrastructure, such as law enforcement, emergency medical services, and transportation industry may also be affected. Health care providers and hospitals may be overwhelmed. At this time, there is no vaccine to protect against COVID-19 and no medications approved to treat it. Nonpharmaceutical interventions would be the most important response strategy.”

It is that last sentence, we think, that has frightened the markets with the implication of quarantines and other restrictions similar to what has occurred in China and other places and the economic impacts such measures may cause. We should expect continued volatility as news, good and bad, continues to be digested by markets. As previously stated, we will continue to monitor the situation and keep our clients and professional partners updated.

Resources:

Notes:

Argent Financial Group Employee Spotlight – Mark Hartnett

This week’s employee spotlight features Mark Hartnett.

What led you to Argent and what makes it unique?

In 2008, I started a very small niche practice serving families who wanted to be intentional with their family legacy. Kyle McDonald recognized the potential for this service, and I saw lots of potential for growing the practice within the Argent footprint. It has been a win – win ever since.

Why do you enjoy working at Argent?

Character and Competency create a great culture. The integrity of our employees is second to none and we are very good at what we do. This combination creates a very satisfying place to serve our clients. 

What does the company mean to you?

Although we are spread out geographically, I feel like I am a highly valued employee in a family owned business. Argent’s support of my work professionally and in my growth as a person means the world to me. I don’t think many people in today’s workforce enjoy this level of satisfaction on a daily basis.

What has been your proudest moment at Argent?

Opening our office in Oxford with four great colleagues.  

What is on your wish list for the next 10 years with Argent?

To become one of the premier multi-family office practices in the country.

What’s the biggest trend you see in [your field] right now?

More families are beginning to understand the need to invest in their family members and not just their financial assets.

What is a random fact about you?

My wife and I have known each other since the 9th grade. We will celebrate our 30th anniversary this year.

What is your favorite quote?

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.” Francis Chan

If you could have any other job for one day, what would it be?

Quarterback for the Dallas Cowboys

What motivates you?

The desire to get better every day!

Deidre Waltz Joins Heritage Trust Company in Oklahoma City as Vice President and Relationship Manager

MEDIA RELEASE
Contact: Taryn Clark
Heritage Trust | 405.608.8899

OKLAHOMA CITY, Okla., Jan. 23, 2020 – Heritage Trust Company announced today that Deidre Waltz has joined the company as vice president and relationship manager in the Oklahoma City office. She will assist clients in a variety of areas, including trusts, estate planning and administration.

A native of Oklahoma City, Waltz brings more than 30 years of diverse trust-based wealth management experience to Heritage. Most recently, she served as director and wealth planning consultant for UBS Financial Services in Chicago. In this position, she advised high net worth clients on advanced wealth management strategies, including estate and multi-generational planning, retirement income and cash flow analysis, and business continuity and succession planning.

Waltz also spent 20 years with Northern Trust Corporation in its Fort Lauderdale, Florida and Chicago offices, where she worked in several trust management roles, including senior vice president, fiduciary risk specialist and relationship manager for global family and private investment offices. Her duties included identifying, monitoring and mitigating fiduciary and investment risk for the company and overseeing estate planning strategies of complex family partnerships. While living in Chicago, she also served as managing director for Argent Family Wealth Services and worked closely with the team at Heritage Trust.

“I’ve known Deidre for years, including working together on several projects. We’re so fortunate to welcome her back home to the Heritage family,” said Kevin Karpe, president of Heritage Trust Company. “She is a seasoned veteran who has stayed on the forefront of the wealth management industry. Deidre will fit in nicely with our local team and will prove to be a valuable resource to clients.”

Waltz is a certified financial planner (CFP), certified investment management analyst (CIMA), certified private wealth advisor (CPWA) and certified exit planning analyst (CEPA). She also holds Series 7 and 66 security licenses. In addition, she is a CPWA committee member, incoming national chairperson for the private CPWA designation and an item writer for the CIMA and CPWA exams.

“Oklahoma City is where I grew up and I am so proud of the vibrant, cultural center it is now,” said Waltz. “The stars aligned and this perfect career opportunity materialized, one where I can make a real impact. Heritage’s outstanding team of professionals embody the true meaning of the word fiduciary and I’m looking forward to making my colleagues and clients here a defining part of my professional legacy.”

Waltz earned her bachelor’s degree in accounting from Oklahoma State University and her certification in taxation, trust and estate law from the American Bankers Association National Graduate Trust School at Northwestern University.

About Heritage Trust Company
Heritage Trust Company, part of the Argent Financial Group family of companies, offers trust administration, oil and gas management, real estate management, financial planning and investment management services to individuals, for-profit companies and charitable/non-profit organizations. The Oklahoma-based company has offices in Oklahoma City, Ponca City and in Tulsa under the AmeriTrust brand, which serve clients in the United States and several countries around the world. For more information, visit www.HeritageTrust.com.

About Argent Financial Group
Celebrating its 30th anniversary in 2020, Argent Financial Group (AFG) is a leading independent fiduciary wealth management firm. Responsible for more than $23 billion in client assets, AFG provides individuals, families, institutions and businesses with a broad range of wealth management services including trust administration and related services, investment management, family office services, retirement plan and charitable organization administration, mineral (oil and gas) management, and financial, retirement and estate planning. The company was also recently named for the second year in a row to the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing companies in the U.S. AFG is the only financial services company in Louisiana to make the prestigious list. For more information, visit www.ArgentFinancial.com.

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