Farmers’ Dastoli Builds Trust Managing Wealth

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – The president of Farmers Trust Co., David Dastoli, learned investment jargon at a young age from his father, who taught finance at Youngstown State University.

“I found a way into trusts through a love, through an interest in investment management that was probably seeded by my father,” Dastoli says. “We never had any money. He was a college professor. But he knew the technicals and the trade options. So I was always intrigued by that.”

Even after he studied finance at Kent State University, Dastoli admits he did not know where he fit into the profession’s job market.

He began as a financial adviser with IDS, which later became American Express Financial Advisors in 1995. But that was more of a sales and networking job, Dastoli says, and he was still looking for a role that better fit him and his love for finance. A friend who worked for a bank suggested Dastoli’s interest and skills seemed congruent with the colleagues he golfed with who were involved in the trust field.

“I learned what the business was by going on interviews,” Dastoli quips. “Eventually I got good enough at answering the questions that somebody hired me as a personal trust administrator.”

After two years in the Akron-Canton area, Dastoli learned about a position in the Youngstown area at a company that wanted someone who knew a little bit about trusts and a little about investments. He combined his experience, along with his securities license and credentials as a certified financial planner at IDS, and took the job at the former Mahoning National Bank.

Over 15 years, Dastoli saw the bank change from Mahoning National Bank to Sky Bank and finally Huntington Bank. “Through a series of acquisitions, I got to work for a small community bank, a small regional and then a big regional,” he says.

Mahoning Bank was small and did not have that many resources and certainly not that much reach. Huntington was bigger, making it harder to have everyone in the same meeting or on the same call. He liked the size of Sky and compares it to Farmers.

“I think we’re kind of in that sweet spot at Farmers. Mahoning was [about] $800 million. We’re close to $2 billion in assets under management and custody. So we’re not small potatoes. We can do some things but we can still all get together and talk. I’m the president of the company and I still meet with clients and if there is a problem with an account that is not my account, it still reaches my level.”

A connection at Farmers led Dastoli to a senior portfolio manager position, from which he eventually rose to become the chief investment officer and then president of the Farmers Trust Co. on July 1, 2017. He said his goal was CIO but he admits he enjoys the challenges of his position.

The role of those overseeing trusts has evolved through the years. At one point, Dastoli notes, everyone with more than $600,000 in assets had to set up a corporate trust. Today, that figure is around $13 million.

“If you’re sitting here in Youngstown, Ohio, waiting for someone with over $13 million to name you as trustee, you’re going to be waiting awhile,” Dastoli says. “That’s not a good business plan.”

Instead, his office has diversified so it can help those seeking trusts and those with complex financial situations in need of an adviser. Farmers Trust is a one-stop place to find investment management, legal advice for trusts, tax prep and administration of scholarships and other charitable endeavors.

“It’s not just our investment management capability,” Dastoli says. “There’s a whole lot of administrative side of the business that really creates a lot of value for a lot of our clients and beneficiaries.”

Clients look to his staff for financial plans, assurance they are on pace to retire. Clients ask how best to set up multigenerational trusts, gifts to the grandchildren or even great-grandchildren. The trust company helps business owners administer retirement plans for their employees and helps those same business owners best manage their newly liquid assets when they sell the company or real estate.

“We have some great people to put in front of them,” Dastoli says. “We can do the financial planning aspect and we can help them manage the portfolio to meet their needs for the long haul.”

Dastoli’s office works with other parts of Farmers National Bank to provide additional services and ensure their clients get the products that best fit them.

In her office, Deborah Grinstein, community development officer with the Farmers Trust, helps clients set up a larger donation through the
Farmers Charitable Foundation Donor Advised Fund, a 501(c)3 public foundation. Although the tax code has increased the size of donations that allow someone to itemize deductions, by donating an investment or one-time larger amount through the fund, the donor can itemize that year and minimize tax liabilities.

Grinstein calls it a “charitable checkbook” that can distribute the money to selected charities over several years, even generations. She says Farmers Trust wanted to make this resource available to its customers here and across the country.

Dastoli is focused on helping the trust company grow, Grinstein says, which she describes as a progressive 21st century business, and ensuring it continues to evolve with time and the community. He and other members of the investment team are vigilant about their clients and their assets, she adds.

“He works great with our clients,” Grinstein says. “He has great relationships with the staff, the community, the clients, the clients’ kids.”

At many banks, there can be a competitive relationship between its trust department and retail brokerage arm, says Dan Cvercko, senior vice president of wealth management at Farmers. That is not the case, however, when he works with Dastoli and his team. While the retail brokerage offers some investment opportunities the trust company does not, Cvercko says that strong relationship between them works because both recognize it is about the customer and finding the right products for their needs.

Those needs have evolved over Dastoli’s years in the financial industry. Early in his career he advised a retiring rubber worker, who banked all of the $192 monthly military checks he received after shrapnel struck his leg during World War II. He had saved about a $1 million. The greatest generation survived the Great Depression and saved everything, living off Social Security checks and pensions, he says.

“They wouldn’t dream of spending it and their kids could have it when they died,” Dastoli says. “They would only spend it if they had a real emergency. Today I think the mentality has changed. People want to enjoy their wealth more so we see a little more of what we call leakage, where a lot of money is going out on a monthly basis. It’s always a challenge to hopefully earn a return that meets the needs of the distribution, grows the trust and find more business to replace them.”

As a bank trust fiduciary, Dastoli says he listens to clients to learn their objectives and then manages the risks, seeking to avoid pitfalls or disasters. Through the years he has seen the dotcom bubble, the Great Recession, the EV craze and cryptocurrencies.

“I’ve seen a lot of things come along that looked really great and ended very poorly,” he says. “Sometimes those things may do really good and then you may end up with egg on your face.”

Dastoli oversees four Farmers Trust offices – Boardman, Howland, Canton and Wooster – with an expansion planned in Hudson following the recent acquisitions of Geauga Savings Bank and Cortland Bank. In addition, he manages  a part of the company Farmers acquired 10 years ago in Fairfield Park that handles record keeping for retirement plans as a third-party administrator.

He also serves on the Youngstown YMCA Board of Trustees.