2 min read September 2023 — In an interview with Invest:, Christina Wilson, senior vice president and senior private banker at Wilmington Trust, talked about the Trust’s successful growth in Florida, how Florida is changing from mostly a vacation destination to a business destination and she discussed the uptick in demand for marine infrastructure with the influx of wealthy individuals.
What have been some major highlights over the past year for Wilmington Trust?
Currently, South Florida is experiencing significant growth, driven by the mass migration to the area. Additionally, Florida’s population growth has made it one of the fastest-growing areas in the United States. All of this population growth has left us extremely optimistic about Wilmington Trust’s private banking lending platform. In fact, Wilmington Trust’s advisory lending platform — which includes financings for items including yachts, aircraft, and other lines of credit — has experienced notable growth, particularly in airplane loans, due to the IRS’s accelerated bonus depreciation. Thus, despite many of the national economic issues, South Florida’s steady increase in loans is attributed to the ongoing migration trend.
How has the change in the demographics of South Florida affected your day-to-day operations and what services are in high demand?
In the past, we primarily saw migration from the Northeast, but now we’re noticing more and more California license plates, indicating a more diverse migration of people from all around the country. Not only are individuals relocating, but businesses are also making the move to call South Florida home, leading to an uptick in demand for strategic planning services. As interest rates rise, more people are seeking lending solutions and financial planning advice. This has provided us with the opportunity to collaborate with our Wilmington Trust Wealth Management partners in offering a comprehensive and holistic team approach to address the complex financial needs for both individuals and their businesses.
Given inflation and the rise in interest rates, how are you advising your clients to navigate this challenging time?
Given the current economic outlook, people are increasingly seeking ways to save money and reduce their interest rate debt. This means that higher interest rate deposits have become more appealing, leading to a higher demand. Wilmington Trust is committed to providing highly-personalized, private banking services to meet this demand. This approach has also allowed us to: a) remain competitive in the marketplace by increasing our money-market deposits; and b) educate our new and existing clients that Wilmington Trust has a team of skilled professionals focused on delivering high-caliber results dating back to 1903. Our long history means that we have been through times of higher interest rates and lower ones and our team is highly skilled in generating strong financial performance during both periods.
What are some trends that you are keeping an eye on given the current business climate?
One of the prevailing trends in South Florida is the surge in construction projects. People are moving to Florida for the appealing lifestyle, leading to higher demand for luxury items like yachts and aircraft. Consequently, there’s more of a need for infrastructure to accommodate these purchases than ever before. On the private banking side, there’s a growing interest in leveraging and consolidating debt. Individuals are looking for opportunities to manage and pay off their debts more effectively while also leveraging their assets.
How has the evolution of technology impacted the financial services sector and your own day-to-day operations?
Customers today are increasingly sophisticated, seeking the convenience of one-stop shopping and seamless online banking experiences. At Wilmington Trust, we cater to these demands by providing a comprehensive platform where clients can easily manage their investments, lending, and business banking in one place. Our integrated online banking system allows clients to view and link their accounts seamlessly: whether for personal, business or wealth management purposes. As technology evolves, staying ahead of the curve is vital. We are committed to evolving our services alongside our clients, making sure we keep up with the ever-changing technologies to meet their financial needs.
What do you anticipate being the major service demands for clients in the future from a financial advising standpoint?
We understand that our clients are always seeking opportunities to grow their wealth and stay updated on the latest trends and investment ideas. Our unique advantage lies in the unmatched talent within our team, from top-notch economists to skilled portfolio managers. Our clients have direct access to these experts, fostering transparency and enabling them to make informed decisions in these fast-changing times. We recognize the significance of family, generational wealth and are committed to protecting and growing it. Unlike transactional banks, we focus on building lasting relationships with our clients. Our trust officers work closely with families, ensuring that their wealth is safeguarded and strategically managed to benefit future generations.
What’s next for Wilmington Trust and Palm Beach County within the next few years?
The weather, the economy and the absence of state taxes are some of the key factors driving individuals to Florida. Unlike in the past when people mainly vacationed here, more and more individuals are relocating their businesses to Florida and thriving financially. In cities like Miami, the technology sector is booming. In Palm Beach County, there is a significant rise in hedge funds and financial companies, contributing to the overall growth and success of the region. Our growth trajectory is on the fast track with five offices already in Florida, including our recent opening in Naples. We have a strong presence in Vero Beach, Stuart, North Palm and Palm Beach, and we continue to expand in collaboration with our M&T partners. The coastal region of Florida is especially promising, and we expect significant growth over the next five years.
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