We act as Independent Financial Advisers to a large number of Trust funds whose investments run into many millions of Pounds in value.
The Trustee Act 2000 requires Trustees to take proper advice, to ensure that the investments made are suitable, diversified, and regularly reviewed. Proper advice means using an adviser authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). Properly impartial and independent advice makes sense. Restricted advisers by contrast can only recommend certain products, or product providers, or both. Where the adviser works as part of a ‘vertically integrated’ national advice firm such as. St James’s Place they will normally only consider the products and funds which that particular company offers. Restricted advisers and firms cannot lawfully describe the advice they offer as ‘independent’. As Trustees could well be asked to justify their choice of adviser at some point in the future, selecting an impartial Independent Financial Adviser is much easier for Trustees to justify. So far as ensuring ‘suitability’ is concerned, Trustees have to be able to show that what they did was it a sensible thing to do in the circumstances as part of their overall duty of care. Trustees investing money need to consider, under the terms of the Trust, whether, for example, they need to balance the interests of a beneficiary entitled to income (a life tenant) with those of another (remainderman) entitled to eventually receive the capital. They also need to have an eye to how long the money going will be invested and whether they will need to access the invested funds for administration expenses and/or distributions in the shorter term. Such factors will shape what type of investment is most suitable. Also important is how investment returns are taxed and how the administration relating to taxation, i.e. filing Trustees’ tax returns, will be handled, and what can be done to minimise such costs. Costs, obviously, are a major factor and Trustees must be able to show that they have had an eye to economy.
How We Can Help
We are unbiased and completely independent. The service we offer takes care of all of the above aspects on the behalf of the Trustees for whom we work. We select investment vehicles appropriate to each type of Trust, devise an investment strategy to put in place appropriate underlying assets and ensure the Trust property is managed tax efficiently and cost-effectively. Where appropriate we balance the entitlements of differing beneficiaries, ensuring that each class is treated equitably and taxation minimised. It also goes without saying that every portfolio we build is thoroughly diversified and we can even demonstrate with mathematical precision the diversification benefit obtained. As regards regular reviews, our service ensures that Trustees are prompted to conduct reviews and provided with all the information they need to make informed decisions. The ‘reviewing’ duty remains legally that of the Trustees but we do all the ‘leg work’ that enabling them to evidence the proper discharge of their duties. To ensure the requirements of the Act are met to the letter we also provide a written statement of precisely what has been agreed along with regular updates to the same at each annual review.