Univest Financial Corp. says it has changed the names of all its wealth management and retirement planning businesses to capitalize on the success of its Girard Partners brand.
Girard Partners will now be known as Girard Advisory; Univest Investments, a broker-dealer and insurance agency will become Girard Investments and TCG Investment Advisory Inc. will be renamed Girard Pensions.
The name change was prompted by how Girard Partners has gained clients and assets despite harsh conditions for registered investment advisers its size since Univest acquired the firm five years ago. Assets under management have grown to $3.35 billion in 19 East Coast states, from about $2.8 billion five years ago, according to Kevin Norris, Girard’s president.
If that doesn’t sound like a huge gain, considering that the stock market was rising for much of that period, Norris says it beats similar-sized competitors who have lost business to “robo-advisers” and other automated investment products. Norris said gross new business growth totaled 13 percent last year and 17 percent in 2017, not counting market appreciation.
Plus, "the Girard name has some cachet in the Philadelphia marketplace,” where streets, a neighborhood and a city-controlled boarding school are named for Stephen Girard, an immigrant trader and industrialist and one of the nation’s first millionaires, Norris noted.
“In 1812 dollars, Stephen Girard was close to being as rich as Bezos, at least before the Amazon CEO’s divorce. Girard even backed the War of 1812 with his own money when the Government was about to go bankrupt” after populist Democrats had shut down the nation’s central First Bank of the United States, in Philadelphia, Norris added.
Thomas J. Crosset, a Girard managing director, was “discharged” in December for “unapproved outside business activity,” according to FINRA, the securities industry’s self-regulating arm.
Univest has 39 branches and has been expanding toward Philadelphia as the city’s remaining banks have been sold to out-of-state companies. Its Girard affiliates have seven offices in Pennsylvania, Virginia and Florida, and currently serves clients in 19 states and online at www.meetgirard.com.