Responsiveness and communication have always been important in our industry. Now, during COVID-19, they are critical as families grow concerned with how the pandemic will affect their daily lives and how the economic disruption may impact their wealth. While the virus’s impact has created challenges and uncertainties all around us, one thing remains constant at Pendleton Square: our commitment to serving the needs of our families and advisors.
Since “stay at home” orders and social distancing became the norm, Pendleton Square has implemented a pandemic plan addressing these concepts while maintaining business operations and continuing to provide the high level of client service that families expect. And as guidelines begin to loosen and economies reopen, we will phase in to the “new normal” in a way that continues to ensure the safety of our employees and the families and advisors with whom we meet.
Technology will be key, with a focus on information security. Advances in digital communication and cloud computing allow us to communicate frequently and respond promptly. From secure video conferencing to encrypted document transfer, our team can quickly provide families and advisors with high-quality, personalized service to further our goal of protecting and growing wealth and building upon family legacies. Here are five tools we use to stay in touch and administer our fiduciary relationships efficiently and effectively in this unique environment:
Videoconference technology has come a long way over the past few years – so long as both sides have a good internet connection, both audio and video functions perform well and allow for deeper interaction. Prior to using any platform, we research the information security features and will fully utilize them to protect confidentiality. For example, we select options to prevent recording, require a password to join the meeting and lock the meeting once all attendees have signed on.
2. Secure email and document sharing
We’ve implemented the necessary protocols to send and receive confidential documents securely. We’ve integrated encrypted document sharing with our email system to both send documents securely and allow clients to upload securely to us. We’ve also installed additional email tools to prevent confidential information from being sent if not encrypted.
3. Electronic signature
Pendleton Square has always maximized use of electronic signatures when permitted by applicable law and the parties involved. We’ve selected an e-signature application that complies with the federal E-Sign Act and other regulations, and which integrates with our secure file sharing system. In some ways, an e-signature is better than ink as it creates an audit trail and automatic backup of the document.
4. Remote notarization and witnessing
Pendleton Square has notaries on staff and they can travel locally to notarize client documents when needed to set up a new trust. We also participate in electronic notarizations and have reviewed and utilized state executive orders waiving certain notary statutes during the pandemic. With electronic notarization, the signer and notary execute documents via videoconference and do not have to be physically present in the same location.
5. Confirmation of distributions
There has been a rise in reported financial fraud since the beginning of the COVID-19 crisis as malicious actors have sought to prey upon the increased use of technology for financial transactions, as well as the general fear and uncertainty surrounding the financial markets. We remain cognizant of this every day, conducting routine training for employees, implementing additional email and internet security protocols and stepping up procedures for client verification pertaining to distributions and other requests
Our trust officers and relationship managers are ready to assist you in reviewing your estate plan and evaluating current wealth transfer strategies and opportunities with your estate planning attorney and investment advisor.