Arbor Investment Advisors cracked the $500 million mark in assets under management in September, a notable feat. Jim Martin started the Winston-Salem-based company in 1998 and was CEO until 2015, then retired from the company last year. His successor, Scott Cawood, is a Duke University graduate who worked for Wachovia Bank for a dozen years before joining Arbor in 2003. Other financial advisers include Scott Jones, who worked for Wachovia and joined in 2006, and Bill Hollan, who worked at BB&T before moving to Arbor in 2011. The company is owned by Cawood, Jones, Hollan and long-term employees April Beason and Paige Birchfield. They manage money for 220 clients.
Cawood answered several questions about the business.
What prompted you to enter money management?
As my career in financial services progressed, I developed a passion for working directly with clients and providing financial advice. In 2003, I had the good fortune of joining the team at Arbor Investment Advisors, an independent, privately owned investment management firm in Winston-Salem. Serving high-net-worth clients as an investment adviser is a highly fulfilling journey and the ultimate challenge. There is no greater reward than helping others succeed and reach a financial peace of mind.
What has sparked Arbor’s growth?
Investment advice is a relationship business. The strongest relationships are rooted in trust. We strive to earn the trust of our clients with exceptional personal service and an unwavering commitment to do what is right. As a testament to the close relationships we have with our clients, many have recommended our services to their friends and colleagues.
Does Arbor handle asset allocation in any unconventional ways?
Each client is unique and deserves individual focus. We deliver tailored solutions. Many of our competitors offer model portfolios. This philosophical difference is a competitive advantage for Arbor. We invest the extra time to deliver the best solution to each client. As an example, we are passionate about optimizing asset location (which asset is held in what type of account) to minimize taxes while managing the overall asset allocation (the mix of investments). If we can save on taxes, limit expenses and minimize trading costs, our client’s assets grow at a faster rate.
What is the best business advice you’ve received?
Find your passion and go for it! It is a real blessing to be able to do what you love to do. Explore until you find. Don’t sell yourself short. And, once you find that calling, the path forward is not work. Challenges are not obstacles — they are stepping stones to greater success.
What are your goals for the next five years?
In our 20th year in business, we surpassed $500 million in assets under management. Our focus for the next five years is unchanged from the first 20 years: Our clients’ needs come first. Our pledge is personal service from dedicated professionals who are committed to our clients’ success.