You can almost imagine the conversations around the kitchen table during gatherings of Ken Alderman’s family. “We are a bunch of accountants,” Alderman chuckled during a recent interview.
Alderman is President of Argent Trust Company in Birmingham, a Business Council of Alabama member, as well as President of Argent Timberland Group. A Certified Public Accountant, he started out in public accounting and spent 33 years in the trust business, both personal and institutional.
His wife, Edna, is a CPA whom he met in an accounting class at Auburn. His brother, Dr. Wayne Alderman, is also a CPA who has had a long career at Auburn University, both teaching and serving as dean of the business school. The Aldermans’ oldest daughter is a CPA and their youngest has a master’s degree in accounting and works for a hospital company. His nephew, who recently graduated from Auburn, is well on his way to passing the CPA exam.
Alderman retired from Regions Bank in 2015 as director of Institutional Services where he oversaw $60 billion in institutional client assets. He also served Regions Wealth Management Group as its senior investment officer with $24 billion in discretionary assets.
Prior to his time as director of Institutional Services, Alderman was President of Regions Morgan Keegan Trust where he led both institutional and personal trust groups. While at Regions, Alderman led the acquisition of the Timberland Investment Management business from Wachovia Bank in 2004.
Alderman retired from Regions Bank at about the same time Argent, which had 24 offices in 12 states, sought to expand into Alabama. For a year Alderman consulted with Argent “getting to know the board and a lot of key people” and then joined the company as president in August 2016.
You could say the Mobile native and Auburn graduate has been there and done that. So, with his extensive experience, he’s very tuned in to providing trust services to businesses, institutions, and individuals.
Alderman is a shareholder of Argent, a fee-based financial institution independently owned and operated by its board of directors and management. “We provide trust and investment management services to individuals and companies and do it in an unbiased manner focused on great customer service,” Alderman said, adding that the company does not make loans, take deposits, sell certificates of deposit, or provide credit cards.
““We work with estate lawyers in the community, CPAs, financial advisors and life insurance specialists,” Alderman said. “We focus on clients. Our personal trust business includes acting as executor under someone’s will, acting as a trustee in trusts created by operation of a will or established by a grantor. We often serve as sole trustee but we also act as a corporate co-trustee alongside a family member and on occasion we act as agent to the appointed fiduciary.”
A competitive advantage of Argent’s business model that Alderman points out is Argent does not have a call center and provides direct face-to-face service to every client.
“The other side of our business is institutionally focused. We serve as trustee or directed trustee for 401k plans, helping plan sponsors operate their employee benefit plans in a professional and appropriate fashion, including compliance with Department of Labor regulations, and we help choose appropriate investment options,” he said.
As president of Argent Timberland Group, Alderman says timber is an asset class that can provide investors with competitive returns and capital preservation in a sustainable real asset with low correlation to other investments in a client’s portfolio. Argent Timberland Group locates and acquires timberland assets for clients and then manages the properties for cash flow and long-term investment returns.
“The strategic plan for Argent includes expansion into several attractive markets within the southeastern United States over the next few years. Birmingham was one of those markets and, since I live here, it made sense to open an office here,” Alderman said. “We opened an office across from Samford University, recruited six people and are looking to add more.
“Our business plan in Alabama is to grow organically through the relationships we have with clients, attorneys, CPAs, and community banks,” he said. “We will also hire additional relationship managers who want a professional and conflict-free environment to serve their clients and we expect to acquire other providers of trust and investment services as opportunities arise.”
Alderman has been published in The Practical Accountant, Journal of Accountancy, Management Accounting and The Southern Business and Economic Journal. He also taught at the college level and most recently has been an adjunct professor of finance at Samford University.
Alderman earned a Bachelor of Science in business administration, accounting major, from Auburn University and a Master of Business Administration degree from Florida State University. He is a graduate of the National Graduate Trust School and is a Chartered Financial Analyst.