The majority of advisors steer clear of trust services to avoid regulatory headaches and competitive pressures, but even those who serve high-end clients crave a lot more information on the subject.
The Family Office Exchange, which caters to providers of high-net-worth family office services, sold out its New York seminar on the anatomy of how trusts work and who fills which role.
The agenda covered basic rules of thumb: individuals can serve as trustee, but the rigors of the position make it desirable for many to bring in a professional who won't compete with family members or existing advisors.
And the clients themselves -- the beneficiaries of the trust -- often feel completely alienated from the process.
The event was mostly attended by beneficiaries, private trustees, and lawyers.
Historically, investment advisors have been nervous about the prospect that handing over business to a trust company -- usually attached to a bank or wealth management firm -- would give a competitor a chance to prospect the client's other assets away.
The spread of independent administration-only trust companies has blunted this fear somewhat, but if the lawyers are setting themselves up as the "quarterbacks" here, it seems like advisors are squandering an opportunity to stay in the game.