How to reset professional trustee services

Published February 25, 2016

Professional trustees tell me one of their biggest challenges is resetting the terms of engagement and bringing wayward co-trustees into line.

If you know things haven’t been run as well as they could have been in the past, it can be hard taking the first step to reset expectations and put things on a proper commercial footing.

Historically, a lack of transparency around professional trustee fees hasn’t helped clients appreciate the value provided. For example, where trustee fees have been bundled with other advisory services, or not charged for.

If professional trustees want to reduce risk and unlock value in their trust services, it starts with knowing the value they bring to the table in the role.

It’s hard to build commercial value from the back seat. Professional trustees need to be in the front seat steering their co-trustees in the right direction.

So, if a trustee wants to turn things around, where’s the best place to start?

Here’s three strategies that work when you need to reset the terms of engagement:

  1. Take a stand: Define standards of what good practice looks like for you and put in place terms of engagement specifically for the trustee services you offer. When you know what you stand for (and won’t stand for), it’s easier to focus on taking the required action.
  2. Take stock: Review existing appointments against the standards you’ve set to identify the gaps or concerns that need to be addressed. When you know the position you’re in, it’s easier to decide if there’s a fit between you and your client going forward.
  3. Take action: Taking action requires fortitude to initiate the required conversations. Resetting the terms of engagement involves personal leadership, good messaging and a robust process to ensure there’s an appropriate balance between the client’s and the firm’s best interests.

Often professional trustee confidence and fitness only comes with time and experience in the role.  Smart trustees can get leverage and fast track the process with good support, processes and tools.

Trust good practice.



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