How’s the health of the independent trust company business? If our annual directory of those trust companies over the next five pages is any indication, it’s a thriving phenomenon in the financial services universe. This is the third year Investment Advisor has compiled a listing of trust companies that partner with advisors. In 2002, we found 68 companies; this year’s directory lists 73 such firms. Moreover, perusing the list shows that there are almost as many business models for independent trust companies–some provide only administrative trust services, others provide a whole range of trust products. Some are spinoffs of law firms or CPA firms or larger banks, while others were created specifically to serve the needs of advisors who wish to maintain some form of control over their clients’ assets when they move into trust.
Some custodians who serve independent advisors have long provided noncompetitive trust services to those advisors, such as First Trust/DATAlynx. While most indie trust companies are relatively small, early this year, a fairly large company–Fidelity Investments–launched a new trust services offering for advisors through its Fidelity Personal Trust Company. In announcing the initiative, Jay Lanigan, president of the Fidelity Registered Investment Advisor Group, noted that the platform will allow RIAs to “delegate the administrative aspects of a trust, allowing them to focus on what they do best–investment management and client service.” Fidelity, which has been aggressively expanding its service offerings to RIAs of late, is not alone in seeking to help advisors improve their operating efficiencies by consolidating a range of relationships under one umbrella. The Pershing LLC unit of Bank of New York will begin offering in July directed trust services on its broker/dealer and RIA platforms; the bank will serve as trustee, but advisors will continue to manage the trust assets (see page 17).