WHEELING — In 2019, Scott Cunningham was an executive vice president and regional managing director with PNC Wealth Management in Pittsburgh. It was a significant job with a bank evolving into a national company.
Yet while he worked in the metropolis of Pittsburgh, he grew up in nearby Sewickley, a smaller town northwest of the big city. He appreciated the more intimate life that came with that community, so when he looked toward Wheeling for the next step in his career, he saw a city that felt like home.
After joining Security National Trust Company as its Chairman and CEO in November 2019, Cunningham will add a new role to his repertoire, assuming the job as CEO of HB&W Financial Services Group, Inc. — the parent company of Security National Trust and Hazlett, Burt & Watson Financial Services.
Cunningham will step into the role for the retiring Mark Prince, and said he wants to continue offering the client-first, personal touch that he always championed at PNC and has instilled at Security National Trust.
Even as PNC grew into a corporate bank, Cunningham never wanted to lose hands-on work with customers that he believes makes a wealth management company succeed.
“At PNC, I always treated it like the little Pittsburgh National Bank trust department,” Cunningham said. “That kind of butted heads with the culture of PNC, which had become a national provider. So as PNC was evolving its model to serve on a national basis, I knew that’s not what I wanted to do. I wanted to do local services.”
That’s one of the main ingredients in what drew him to Wheeling and Security National Trust. As he drove down the Ohio River and past the towns that dot its banks, he saw a lot of Sewickley in what he saw there. That smaller-town feel, and the values promoted there, sold him on the move.
“When I came here and saw the river and the hills,” Cunningham said, “when I saw the mix of industry and housing, I saw the emphasis on school and education, I said, this is just like home.”
Prince knows how Cunningham felt. He had been the Managing Director and West Virginia CEO of JP Morgan & Chase Co., and at age 55, he desired to spend his last 10 years working at a smaller firm that allowed him to be closer to his clients.
Prince appreciated that Cunningham shared that client-first philosophy and wanted that expertise and way of thinking at Security National Trust.
“He has a proven history of building a client-first culture,” Prince said. “And he had done a very nice job of that with his division at (PNC). We just looked at the work product that he had done and some of the training that he had done of his people when he was still at PNC to see that he was making sure that their credentials, their experience and most importantly their dedication to clients was optimal.”
While Cunningham enjoys that his clients can just walk down the street to his office or that he can just jump into the car and drive to their homes, he still sees a potential for growth with the company. West Virginia, he said, has the opportunity to grow in importance in the wealth management industry.
“I think West Virginia could become a financial services industry heavyweight, we really could,” he said. “Our laws in the state are very favorable and there are some things we can do to make them more attractive. There are some other states such as South Dakota that do great business in wealth services, and we could be doing that business, too.”
Ultimately, he believes company growth and success will be anchored in the ability of both Security National Trust and Hazlett Burt & Watson to continue their combined mission of keeping their clients’ best interests at the front of their minds.
“I’d say my heart is pure,” Cunningham said. “I have no other agenda than let’s have a wonderful time taking care of these wonderful clients.”
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