How Does a Corporate Trustee Differ From a Family Member?

10.23.18Most of us consider naming a friend or relative with a background in finance or law to be a trustee for our family, but there is an alternative that is important to consider.

A corporate trustee will have a very different approach to managing a trust, and depending on your situation, may be a far better choice than a family member or friend. They’ll bring sound investment management skills and knowledge, minus the distractions of emotions.

The Dallas Business Journal’s recent article, “Fiduciary investment management and corporate trustees,” explains that one of the many benefits of appointing a corporate trustee, is that they are held to a fiduciary standard of care when managing a trust investment portfolio. That means that they’re legally required to place their client’s interests above their own when making investment decisions. While this may seem like a no-brainer, it’s not the rule for all financial professionals.

While an individual trustee is held to the same fiduciary standard of care, they often don’t possess the same level of professional investment expertise and resources that a corporate trustee does.

There are a few factors to consider from an investment standpoint, when selecting a corporate trustee. The most important consideration is that a corporate trustee should take the time to do an in-depth analysis to fully understand the client’s short-term and long-term goals, as well as the clients’ current situation and foreseeable liquidity needs and risk tolerance. This will give the trustee the necessary foundation, upon which to build a prudent and diversified investment portfolio.

Deciding on the right investment allocation is just the initial step in the continuing process of managing the investment portfolio appropriately. In addition to looking at an investment’s historical performance, he or she should perform ongoing research and oversight to gather information and implement decisions, based on the future economic outlook with respect to current market conditions. The trustee should practice due diligence in implementing any new investments and continue overseeing a client’s existing investments to be certain the objectives continue to be in sync with those of the trust.

Everyone’s circumstances change, and developing a close relationship with the chosen trustee, and keeping the trustee up-to-date about important events and happenings will help ensure the trust is able to support the beneficiaries in a time of need, while still being able to accomplish long-term goals.

Before you select a corporate trustee, conduct in-depth research on the bank or trust company. Understand their fee structure from the beginning to the end of their appointment. Get a clear picture of how the organization works and whether or not you and your heirs will be comfortable with the institution, as well as the individuals involved.

Reference: Dallas Business Journal (September 24, 2018) “Fiduciary investment management and corporate trustees”

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