On March 31, this year ZEDRA acquired the Barclays UK Trust business, which is trustee of 4,500 trusts, some of which date back almost 100 years. The acquisition increased ZEDRA’s size by about a quarter and underlined ZEDRA’s commitment to rapid growth. Just 18 months after its launch, ZEDRA, which now operates from 14 worldwide offices, has more than 500 staff and is well on its way to achieving its aim of doubling its size in less than three years.
‘We’re constantly looking at ways of expanding our UK business and are going to be offering more corporate back office services to meet the increasing demand for onshore structures,’ says Niels Nielsen. ‘Having such a strong onshore proposition is important because the UK has such a dynamic corporate and private wealth market, therefore international clients increasingly want to use highly reputable jurisdictions”.
Barclays continues to hold a minority stake in ZEDRA. ‘This demonstrates Barclays’ interest in the ongoing success of this business and its commitment to supporting continuing relationships with clients and the advisory community’, ‘says Akshaya Bhargava, CEO, Barclays Wealth, Entrepreneurs and Business Banking.
Sue Wakefield, who has worked for Barclays since 1984, remains as one of the Trust Directors of ZEDRA UK Trusts. Sue started working for Barclays in its Wealth and Investment Management division. She fast became an onshore trust specialist, gaining extensive experience in administering, managing and facilitating the creation of fiduciary structures for private clients. In 2014 she became Sales Support Manager at Barclays UK Trusts division, working with Barclays internal relationship managers with prospective, new and existing clients. Then, as of April, when ZEDRA took over – all change.
‘This is a huge opportunity,’ enthuses Sue, from her Cheshire office. ‘With a hundred years of history behind us, plus just under a hundred highly qualified and experienced staff, we believe we’re now the largest independent trust company in the UK.’
ZEDRA UK Trusts’ clients are mostly UK residents and Sue is pleased that cutting free from Barclays will enable the business to venture into new territory. ‘We can now start working with third parties that we weren’t able to do previously,’she explains. ‘We’re free to work with the law firms, wealth and investment managers and accountancy firms we choose and offer our professional trustee services to their clients.” The change of ownership means that clients can look at more diverse assets, not just traditional cash as well as stocks and shares. ‘Now we’re able to consider business assets, planes, boats, artwork – anything’ says Sue. ‘And if clients want to gift these sorts of assets into a trust, we can help them to do that. It’s very exciting.’
‘Some private clients can see trusts as a rather stuffy, old-fashioned way of estate planning,’ says Sue. ‘Creating a trust can feel a bit like signing your will then putting it in a drawer and never seeing it again. But we ensure our trusts remain alive and fresh, forming an important part of a client’s inter-generational planning. We meet our clients at least once a year and always go back to the start, reminding them why they created the trust in the first place. Often clients have forgotten the purpose of the trust so we’ll have the opportunity of discussing the benefits and reviewing the family circumstances, enquiring about any key events that might be upcoming – such as children buying a home or getting married so we can better understand the changing family circumstances. We keep the trust relevant and our clients informed.’
Clients can be nervous about losing control if they set up trust structures. ‘We allow our clients to act as trustees alongside us so they don’t lose control,’ says Sue. ‘Even though their money might have been moved out of their personal estate and gifted into a trust, as a trustee, the client will still be involved in all the decision-making. Many of our clients are time poor so we take care of all the accounting, maintenance of records, tax reporting and administration, giving them peace of mind.
Sue has worked in the trust business for over 30 years and seen families become increasingly fragmented, with second marriages and large extended families. ‘People want to structure their wealth to be fair and to balance the needs of their first family with the current one,’ explains Sue. ‘ZEDRA’s modern trusts allow the flexibility to deal with all family dynamics and the ability to add and remove beneficiaries provides options for changing circumstances.’
‘ZEDRA recognises that client satisfaction is paramount to our success and the repeat business we obtain from existing clients is our greatest compliment,’ says Sue.
‘ZEDRA’s advantage is not just that we’re independent and family-owned which means we can be flexible, but also that we have a global imprint,’ says Niels Nielsen. ‘We are able to take care of our clients in a global, entrepreneurial way that puts us ahead of companies more entrenched in their way of doing business. We don’t ever take a one-size-fits-all approach – we’re far more adaptable. We will never compromise on any standards, and having a global proposition enables us to help clients across the wor