National Advisors Trust, a trust and custodial services company owned by more 130 independent financial advisory firms nationwide, on Thursday elected William Hart as chairman of the board.

Hart, founder of Chicago-based Hartline Investment Corp., succeeds Joseph Kopczynski. During Kopczynski's 10-year run as chairman, the Overland Park, Kan.-based trust company grew to more than $5 billion in trust and custodial assets. He will become chief investment officer and a consultant to Hart, as well as head of special projects.

Hart will remain president at Hartline., an 18-year-old investment management and registered investment advisory firm with more than $600 million in client assets under management.

Prior to entering the financial field, Hart earned an anthropology degree from Dartmouth College, lived in Greenland with a native family, and worked on a 40-foot fishing trawler. He also spent two semesters in Mexico living with local families and pursuing anthropological studies in Oaxaca and the Yucatan Peninsula. He eventually earned his MBA from Northwestern University's Kellogg Graduate School of Business.

Hart's professional career began at The Northern Trust Company in Chicago, working in personal trust and institutional investments for 10 years.  From there, he joined Continental Bank as head of nonprofit and foundation investments, and later formed Continental Capital Management as a wholly-owned subsidiary of the bank.  In March 1990, he purchased a portion of the assets of Continental Capital and formed Hartline Investment Corp.

For National Trust Advisors, Hart's election is part of a recent makeover in its top ranks. Earlier this year, the company named Ron Ferguson as CEO.