The Start Of A Legacy

June 13, 2005
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GRAND RAPIDS — It takes more than a year to create a legacy.

But Legacy Trust finds itself well on its way to doing that in just its first year.

Last month, Legacy Trust reached a key milestone. The independent and locally owned bank, which specializes in investment management and trust administration, surpassed the $100 million mark in asset management.

“We are especially delighted to announce that we now have more than $100 million in assets under management, which is a significant milestone in our industry,” said William Walker, chief executive officer.

“We’ve had a good run, but we’re never satisfied. You always wish you were doing a little bit more. But when you really step back and think about it objectively as to how much we’ve done in the short time we’ve been at it, it really is pretty remarkable,” said Robert Prevette, president of Legacy Trust. “We’ve come a long way.”

Walker and Prevette opened the bank last year in Suite 600 at 300 Ottawa Ave. NW. Both have a lengthy background in the local industry: Walker most recently with Grand Bank, and Prevette with Old Kent Bank, now Fifth Third Bancorp.

They started Legacy Trust with an eye toward offering a wide range of financial services. Not just to individuals and families, but to private foundations and charitable organizations, as well. Investment management; retirement, education, estate and income tax planning; bill payment and cash-flow planning; fiduciary services; and philanthropic consulting make up the bank’s core, a list that allows Legacy Trust to manage its clientele’s wealth.

“Our team brings a tremendous amount of expertise in investments, finance and tax to our clients, which allowed us to deliver above-average returns for our clients,” said Walker.

Maureen Hale, a former vice president with Old Kent, recently joined Legacy Trust and will be part of the team that Prevette said will be “knocking on doors” to meet the bank’s second-year goal.

“We need to be, before the close of the year, at $160 million in assets. That is a goal that we’ve set — kind of a minimum goal — to get us solidly on the original plan that we set out with our shareholders,” he said.

But topping the $100 million asset mark wasn’t the only landmark the bank achieved over the last year, as it also secured agreements to provide exclusive trust services for a half-dozen community banks in West Michigan.

Union Bank in Lake Odessa and Shelby State Bank were the most recent to sign on with Legacy Trust; both came aboard in March. Greenville Community Bank did the same in February.

Founded in 1934, Union Bank has branches in Dimondale, Freeport, Mulliken, Pewamo and Westphalia. Shelby State Bank has been around since 1931 and has offices in Whitehall, North Muskegon, Hesperia, Rothbury, Fruitport and Hart. Greenville Community Bank opened for business in 1999.

Under the agreement, Legacy Trust offers wealth-management services to the banks’ customers at all locations.

“These partnerships allow Legacy Trust to expand our service area while enabling our bank partners to expand the range of financial and investment services they can provide,” said John Linabury, director of business development for Legacy Bank.

Prevette said Legacy was beginning to see some good production coming from the six community banks. Together the six have more than $1 billion in assets, which can profitably support a trust division.

“And that’s our bank. We all came from Old Kent, we all have Old Kent roots, and we’ve always had the advantage of having a large commercial and retail enterprise to feed us a steady stream of referrals,” he said.

“We have lots of ways to build business, but having those community banks is like having that same feeder system we enjoyed in our prior lives.”

Over the past year, Walker said Legacy Trust has reached other goals. It added three members to its management staff, built its infrastructure with state-of-the-art operational systems, and developed strong ties with attorneys, accountants and other professional service providers.

“We are very pleased with Legacy Trust’s accomplishments during our first year as an independent, Michigan-chartered bank,” said Walker.

Walker and Prevette were so pleased with the bank’s first-year performance that they held an open house at the end of last month to celebrate the end of year one. They also extended the bank’s lease with its landlord, DP Fox Ventures LLC. Legacy Trust is now locked in at its downtown headquarters for the next 12 years.    

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