Premier Partner Spotlight: Greenleaf Trust0
Ean Hamilton, Esq.
Trust Relationship Officer at Greenleaf Trust
As a Trust Relationship Officer at Greenleaf Trust, I work closely with our clients in the management of their wealth and financial security, and in the administration of trusts. That entails working with our clients' other trust advisors, e.g., CPAs and attorneys, which I enjoy given that I'm also an attorney.
From a young age, I wanted to practice law. Perhaps it was the influence of my grandfather, himself an attorney, or maybe it simply the fact that I loved to read and constructively argue. After getting a BA in English Literature at University of Michigan, I headed to Chicago and worked in logistics. But the call of the law was strong, so I returned to Michigan, enrolled into Cooley Law School, and in my final semester met my husband to be.
After graduation and interning for a law firm’s estate planning team I moved to Washington, D.C. I wanted to open my own practice, however, so I created a website, harnessed SEO and hung my shingle in a small office in Alexandria, Virginia. The day I got my first client was one of the happiest in my life.
While working in DC, I learned about the Trust Relationship Officer opening at Greenleaf Trust. My husband (an attorney at Miller Canfield) and I loved DC, but the birth of our first son made Michigan (and the families we'd left behind) very appealing. I applied for the position, and flew back to Michigan for the interview.
It was my first exposure to Kalamazoo. And, to be candid my husband and I weren’t thrilled with the idea of moving to Kalamazoo because it was such a small town and we were concerned that it would not offer many of the luxuries of the big city (unique restaurants, shops, festivals, etc.) But Greenleaf Trust was too impressive to pass up, so we made a leap of faith.
One of the many things I love about my job is getting to know our clients, working closely with them to retain sight of the big picture, and helping them achieve their long-term goals. Another thing I love is the emphasis Greenleaf Trust puts on a healthy work/life balance. Many of my colleagues and I are millennials with young families; Greenleaf’s support makes life so much more manageable and rewarding.
If one were to ask me about studying law in order to become a trust relationship officer, I'd encourage the person to make sure that's what he/she really wants. It involves many long nights in front of books, a large student debt and a great deal of effort. Long after graduation, you have to keep your knowledge base high by reading, attending conferences and seminars, embracing continuing education, and keeping up with new developments and laws.
Looking back to my younger self, I'd find a mentor sooner in hopes that I'd go further, sooner. I realize now that asking questions doesn't make one look less smart. And that even with a law degree in hand, there's so much more to experience and learn. For those reasons, I can’t imagine a better place to work than Greenleaf Trust.
And without a doubt, I was not expecting Kalamazoo to be so appealing. It’s family friendly, vibrant and has a wonderful mix of small and large businesses. Socially and professionally, it's proving to be a great place to meet people. Our family regularly attends the festivals offered in the summer and my husband and I try to schedule date nights when we can eat at one of Kalamazoo’s unique restaurants. The professional community in Kalamazoo is very close knit, which is a change from Washington D.C. so it’s great to attend networking events to connect with my peers. We now call Kalamazoo our home and look forward to many more years here.