December 2013: Trust Services

In this month’s report, we review the trust services offered by the Broker Monitor coverage group. We offer an overview of each firm that provides trusts, focusing on whether offerings are limited to self-directed and self-trusteed accounts. In addition to these traditional options, we also look at whether additional services are available from any brokerage, such as investment management, trust administration and corporate trustee services. Beyond this, our research touches on the different types of trusts that firms can service. For the purposes of this report, we did not review registered independent advisor sites.

We found that every Broker Monitor coverage firm except one provides customers with trust services. All of these firms provide self-directed trust accounts, with approximately 61% also offering corporate trustee services. These secondary services enable clients to set the firm to serve as a trustee, co-trustee or successor trustee. Additionally, of the 11 firms that provide corporate trustee services, nine have proprietary in-house trust companies for trust administration.
 
Asset management services and financial guidance to trust account holders is another area highlighted in this report. Unsurprisingly, every firm that provides corporate trustee services provides asset management services as well. However, three of the seven firms covered in this report that do not currently provide corporate trustee services offer some form of asset management services to trust account holders.
 
Unfortunately, the Broker Monitor firms highlighted in this report overall provide an uninspiring selection of trust-focused resources online, with only 56% of firms providing trust account opening documents on either the public or private website. Downloadable brochures that highlight the key features of a firm’s suite of trust services are offered online by only four firms. Two firms feature estate planning or trust glossaries on their public website which define key trust terminology that may be foreign to many. Additionally, only one firm offers a public site educational video dedicated to trust services.