The personal trust business is often referred to as a relationship business, a "high-touch" profession where technology rests in the background-deep in the background. Not for long. Today personal trust is about providing optimal services; whether delivered through a human or electronic interface is increasingly unimportant. Performance counts-in terms of customer satisfaction and internal profitability measurements.

The trust department can no longer afford to be a service center that tends to the estates of deceased for the benefit of their relatives. Assets are too hard to come by. And wealthy customers have more options today. "With deregulation in banking, spreads in commercial banks have disappeared and banks are depending more and more on fees for their income. Where in the olden days the trust department could be thought of as a service arm of the bank and the bank really earned its money on the interest margin, when you take away that interest margin, you can no longer afford the luxury of thinking about trust as a service group," says Robert Clarke, president of SunGard Trust Systems, Inc.

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