New trust management minor delivers on promise to train next generation of professionals | Lerner
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University of Delaware - Alfred Lerner College of Business & Economics

By Adam Sexton December 14, 2017

The University of Delaware’s Alfred Lerner College of Business and Economics welcomed 18 students into the trust management minor, the first of its kind at any accredited business school, during the fall semester of 2017. This fulfilled the long-term vision defined by a unique collaboration between UD, the Delaware Bankers Association (DBA) and the Delaware Financial and Educational Alliance (DFEA).

Delaware’s trust industry is robust with more than 43 established companies, one of the most prominent jurisdictions nationwide for both substantive trust laws and the tax treatment of trusts. The industry’s growth rate has skyrocketed over the past decade to the point that firms could not acquire enough knowledgeable talent to meet demand for services. The DBA and DFEA, with backing from the industry, approached the Lerner College in 2014 to help create the trust minor as an innovative solution to this workforce gap.

“This is one of the programs that make the job exciting and thrilling for me,” Lerner College Dean Bruce Weber said. “The program gives the opportunity to really do something special at the University of Delaware that’s going benefit our students and benefit local industry.”

Other founders and sponsors behind the establishment of the minor include:

  • Bank of America
  • Brandywine Trust Company, LLC
  • Brown Brothers Harriman Trust Company of Delaware, N.A.
  • The Bryn Mawr Trust Company of Delaware
  • Commonwealth Trust Company
  • Cooch & Taylor, P.A.
  • Gawthrop Greenwood, PC
  • Gordon Fournaris & Mammarella, P.A.
  • Morris Nichols Arsht & Tunnell, LLP
  • RBC Trust Company
  • Delaware Reliance Trust Company of Delaware
  • Richards Layton & Finger, P.A.
  • TD Charitable Foundation
  • U.S. Trust Company of Delaware
  • Wells Fargo & Company
  • Wilmington Trust
  • WSFS Wealth / Christiana Trust
  • Young Conaway Stargatt & Taylor, LLP.

As the major outcome of this collaboration, the minor in trust management focuses on trusts, wills, estate planning and taxation, providing students the unique opportunity to learn from industry experts one-on-one through mentorships and internships. The program also offers students a more diversified skillset and a clear path to employment prospects when they enter into varying facets of the financial sector after graduation.

“The financial services industry is extremely important to the state of Delaware, employing over 38,000 individuals in a variety of positions,” said Sarah Long, president of the DBA and DFEA. “The trust business is a very important part of the growth the industry has experienced. To develop a feeder program of talent that provides experience with mentorships and internships so that students are ready to be employed when they graduate… well, it just doesn’t get any better than that.”

The program is well underway at meeting its goals, as each trust management minor student will complete an internship with a financial institution prior to graduating. Approximately one quarter of the Delaware trust companies are participating so far in the internship program. Each of the 18 students is also paired with a mentor, whom they meet with once a month through the entirety of their time in the program. This provides substantial and meaningful contact between mentor and mentee in the hopes that the relationship grows over time.

Students said that they see the trust management minor as an opportunity to expand their knowledge in the financial industry and their career options for after graduation from UD.

Junior financial planning and wealth management major Brittany Harrison said that she joined the minor to learn about a part of the industry that was foreign to her.

“My favorite part of the minor so far has definitely been learning new material,” Harrison said. “I had no idea what it was before this class, and all these different things you can do with wills and trusts. The opportunities are endless.”

Members of the community including representatives from the founding companies celebrated with members of the Lerner College in mid-fall at a launch event.

Jennifer McCloskey, director and instructor of the trust management minor, has been instrumental in its success.

“I am humbled by the fact that [UD has] given me the opportunity and the gift of coming to work each day to do what I love, to make a difference, to inspire, to educate and to influence young lives,” McCloskey said.

Every student currently in the minor attended the launch event and spoke very highly of McCloskey both in and outside of the classroom.

“I found the material so interesting and loved Professor McCloskey’s teaching style and enthusiasm,” said junior financial planning major Emily Villacis. “She has been the main reason why I joined the minor. Her dedication and commitment to every one of her students is something that greatly benefits us and [will benefit] future students.”