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Trust Your Trustee

Managing trusts is an extremely specialized business. The record-keeping, disbursements, and legal and tax matters all require diligent attention, so it’s no wonder that many people hire a professional trustee.

 

Enlisting the services of a professional trustee helps confirm that your trust will be administered in accordance with your wishes and written objectives, and you can get all the benefits of professional trustee services with the professional investment management you receive from us.  Solid as a rock.

 

Our trust companies’ role as a professional trustee is to interpret and carry out the instructions written in your trust document impartially and without conflict of interest while maintaining sensitivity to the needs of all beneficiaries. This may include managing assets to appropriate objectives and distributing income or principal to trust beneficiaries according to the trust document. 

 

Our approach here at RG is to work with established trust companies, tapping into their expertise. And our trust companies aren’t just anybody.  Not only do we work with RBC Trust, but we also provide trust services from City National Bank Trust and Midwest Trust.  These strategic partnerships bring to bear a scope of capabilities that covers US Domestic and International Trusts, Personal and Institutional Trusts, across all jurisdictions, all types of assets, and all types of trusts.

 

Our full trust services include:

  • complete, automated accounting and record keeping

  • regular statements listing all account transactions and assets with market value, tax cost basis and estimated income

  • preparation of the tax return for the trust and of tax information letters to beneficiaries

  • collecting income and paying bills

 

Additionally, you get an assigned trust administrator who works closely with your accounting and legal advisors and us.  Traditionally, the professional trustee manages a trust’s investment assets.  But when working with our trust companies, we’re able to remain in place as your relationship manager and act as your main contact for questions regarding your investment services, and we can continue to provide you with the sound, current and effective investment advice you’ve come to expect from us.

 

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A particular area of our trust expertise is real estate investment management.  We provide property management services for trust clients that deliver customized real estate management designed to meet the established income and expense goals of beneficiaries. Using feasibility studies and in-depth market analysis, we develop solutions for clients designed to enhance the after-tax returns of a property. This entrepreneurial approach delivers creative strategies that help clients maximize the potential of their investment while also maximizing available tax advantages.

 

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There are two particular types of trusts that we see a lot of--  donor advised funds and special needs trusts.


Donor Advised Funds

Charitably inclined clients may choose a Donor Advised Fund rather than a Private Foundation as there are no individual startup costs, no annual distribution requirements, no excise taxes, no public records, and there may even be potential for greater income tax deductions. Donor Advised Funds are extremely flexible, economical to establish, and can meet a variety of different needs.


Special Needs Trusts

A special needs trust, sometimes called a supplemental needs trust, allows disabled beneficiaries to maintain eligibility for needs-based government programs like Medicaid and SSI. The assets held in the trust are not counted against resource limits that would otherwise disqualify them from receiving benefits. 

 

Despite misconceptions, special needs trusts are not just for the super-wealthy. Even modest assets put into a properly drafted trust can generate meaningful supplemental income while maintaining government aid.  In our experience, the key is flexibility. A beneficiary's needs change over time, so the trust should provide latitude to the trustee managing distributions.

 

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If you have a trust at a bank or trust company, we invite you for a complimentary review of your trust legal documents and accounting statements. We will evaluate options and offer solutions with respect to whether a professional trustee may be a good fit, the investment options available, and how to affect the change of trustee.

 

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Now, for markets…

 

According to Howard Silverblatt of S&P Dow Jones Indices, the total returns of The Magnificent Seven powered 60% of the S&P 500's return in 2023.  This year, Microsoft (MSFT) and Nvidia (NVDA) account for nearly 60% of the S&P 500's total market value gain, says an Investor's Business Daily analysis of data from S&P Global Market Intelligence. In other words, just two stocks are pulling as much weight this year as The Magnificent Seven did last year.  Moreover, according to Bespoke Investing Group, the twenty largest stocks in the index accounted for 110% of the index's upside move this year while the remaining 480 stocks have been acting as a drag.

 

We’re just twenty-six days into 2024, and the S&P 500 has already blown past the consensus over where the index would finish the year.  While valuations and retail-investing activity suggest this equity advance has stronger foundations than previous bouts of bizarre bullishness, its speed is somewhat troubling.  It feels a little like the tech-led melt-up of the late 1990’s, and one has to wonder if a similar “irrational exuberance” might be serving to inflate a speculative bubble.

 

I’m reminded of Sun Microsystems, which was one of the darlings of the dot com bubble. At its peak, the stock hit a valuation of ten-times revenues. This is what its CEO, Scott McNealy, had to say about that a few years later:

 

“At 10 times revenues, to give you a 10-year payback, I have to pay you 100% of revenues for 10 straight years in dividends. That assumes I can get that by my shareholders. That assumes I have zero cost of goods sold, which is very hard for a computer company. That assumes zero expenses, which is really hard with 39,000 employees. That assumes I pay no taxes, which is very hard. And that assumes you pay no taxes on your dividends, which is kind of illegal. And that assumes with zero R&D for the next 10 years, I can maintain the current revenue run rate. Now, having done that, would any of you like to buy my stock at $64? Do you realize how ridiculous those basic assumptions are? You don’t need any transparency. You don’t need any footnotes. What were you thinking?”

 

MSFT currently trades at more than 13X revenues, and NVDA trades at 34x.  Just saying.

 

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We believe 2024 will see broader participation going forward for a couple of reasons.  First of all, valuations are significantly better outside the largest mega-cap names in the U.S. market, and secondly, technology is not the only sector likely to experience strong earnings growth as sectors such as healthcare and industrials are expected to grow at an above market pace.

 

At the end of the day, earnings still matter.  Therefore, we recommend:

 

  • Navigating a higher-for-longer interest rate regime with balanced equity and core fixed income positioning.

  • Positioning for a potentially turbulent US election year that may feature heightened market volatility.

  • Adding the potential risk-reduction benefits of liquid alternatives while maintaining competitive return targets.

 

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