Bank trust companies are doing well, but threats for RIAs linger, according to Cerulli Associates, which estimates bank trust assets reached $2.3 trillion in 2012.
“Collectively, bank trusts manage an estimated $2.3 trillion in assets as of 2012, which is just shy of pre-2008 crisis levels,” Donnie Ethier, senior analyst at the Boston-based research firm, said in a statement. “Bank trusts have long been regarded as an important destination for wealth management among high-net-worth institutions and individuals.”
Cerulli defines a bank trust organization as a division of a bank or registered broker-dealer that provides fiduciary wealth management advice under the ’40-Act exemption, which exempts them from securities registration.
“Understanding the bank trust channel is crucial regardless of whether an asset manager is seeking a new distribution outlet, an established bank trust is in the midst of strategic planning, or a competing provider is contemplating the creation of a trust company to expand its offerings to savvy HNW investors,” Ethier said.
Cerulli predicts “modest growth” for bank trust assets, although there are several issues that could alter the anticipated growth to the benefit or detriment of the channel. Competition in the space is intensifying, including the increasing presence and threat of RIAs and the direct channel. This competition may increase even more as investors seek greater fee transparency and younger generations continue to inherit wealth.