The fiduciary role of a trustee is a fact investors need to know exists.
There are dozens of interpretations of the word “fiduciary” in the world of investments, and there is significant confusion among investors as to whether their advisor is in fact a fiduciary.
This confusion does not extend to the role of a trustee at a financial institution. Trustees are fiduciaries, a fact trust industry officials should probably announce loudly in the search for new clients.
According to Spectrem’s annual Perspective, the 2015 Personal Trust Update, while personal trust assets grew in 2014 to almost $1 trillion, the number of personal trust accounts in financial institutions dropped to just over 600,000. The personal trust industry has lost 175,000 accounts since 2008.
The trust industry should be flush these days, as the number of wealthy Americans continues to grow following the recovery from the 2008 recession. But most wealthy investors today self-trustee (on the advice of their primary advisor) because using a financial institution as trustee is too expensive.
There is new attention being paid to the role of a fiduciary in investment circles due to a pending Department of Labor regulation aimed at protecting retirement savings. Some investment industry officials are urging that all financial providers and advisors should operate under the legal guideline of a fiduciary. As it is, most investors believe their advisor is a fiduciary, although odds are that is simply not true.
However, the trustee at a financial institution charged with protecting and monitoring a personal trust account is a fiduciary.
According to the 2015 Personal Trust Update, “The Trust Industry needs to educate consumers on the legal role you take on as a Fiduciary and contrast that to other advisors who do not take this role on. This education should be the lead message in all education and communication efforts while the Fiduciary topic is at the forefront of media attention.”
Explaining the role of a trustee as a fiduciary could balance the concern over the cost of having a trustee at a financial institution. Protecting assets and providing direction for asset distribution is a time-consuming and technically complicated issue that could benefit from professional assistance.
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.