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22 July 2016

In this fast changing business climate, more and more companies are coming into contact with Trusts and Trustees than ever before.

This may be in the form of pensions and pension providers, investment companies or simply business models to enable assets to be managed more efficiently.

However, it is likely that as some point in our business lives we will need, or use, Trustees.

What is the role of a Trustee?

A Trustee’s responsibility is to act in the best interest of the Trust as a whole and to be as impartial as possible.

They are sometimes, unfortunately, placed in a position of making incredibly controversial decisions in an attempt to protect assets for long-term goals rather than short-term gain.

The Trustees’ powers are governed by the terms of the Trust and the terms of the Trustee Act, but in brief they must protect and handle trust assets for the benefit of the beneficiaries (this could be a single beneficiary, or a small or large group of individuals).

The aims of the Trust and any restrictions placed on the Trustees will be set out the terms of the trust agreement. This is where is it important to be aware that poorly drafted Trust documents which fail to supply sufficient leeway for the Trustees to carry out their duties as custodians of the Trust funds, simply hamper rather than assist the efficiency of the trust as a whole.

The Trustees do not own any of the Trust assets personally, but they are expected to invest Trust funds prudently and productively taking professional advice if required. They will also have, unless specifically prohibited, the ability to lease, mortgage, or sell any trust asset if deemed necessary in fulfilment of the trust's objectives.

Choosing a trustee

Bearing this in mind, the Trustees must be chosen with great care and after accepting the role may not delegate, renounce, or resign their responsibility unless an acceptable successor consents to being the replacement.

Unless specifically prohibited by the terms of the Trust, a professional Trustee can be paid for their services, and any support assistance required by the Trustee as part of carrying out their duties (which can include legal services, financial services or investment advice required to carry out the responsibilities of a Trustee).

So if asked to be a Trustee, it is advisable that an individual should consider whether they feel able to deal with the duties, and whether they can put aside their personal views, if required to do so. 

Contact Oratto on 0845 3883765 to speak with an adviser or use our contact form to arrange a call-back.

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21 July 2016

Joining the growing ranks of musical crowdfunders, it has emerged that the five-time Grammy award winning girl group TLC are crowdfunding their next (and very last) album. Going live with their Kickstarter campaign on 19 January 2015, TLC are looking to raise $150,000 to fund “great music that touches everyone”. We have seen crowdfunding fast became the financing arsenal of choice for many non-mainstream / “indie” artists and the take up (and go) of this financing option by the more mainstream pop culture is very much indicative of the wider crowdfunding trends whereby crowdfunding as a concept has moved on from being an ‘alternative’ funding option to a ‘mainstream’ option for all. 

TLC, like many crowdfunding musicians, are relying on a form of crowdfunding known as ‘reward based’ (or ‘donation based’) crowdfunding. After determining the amount of money that needs to be raised for the project, the crowdfunder sets up suggested donation amounts, attached to which will be a specific reward or incentive. The rewards and incentives are ‘perked up’ as donations escalate and top the various set donation thresholds. It has been reported that TLC are offering (amongst other perks) cinema visits and photo shoots (with the band of course). Given that it has emerged that the band have so far raised over a third of their target in a matter of days, it would appear that they are ‘creeping’ healthily towards their very last musical bequest.

Reward based crowdfunding is not the only option for fundraisers, equity crowdfunding and debt crowdfunding (or peer to peer lending) can also be considered. Equity crowdfunding involves people investing in an opportunity in exchange for equity (shares) in a company, or a small stake in a business / project or venture. Debt crowdfunding / peer to peer lending allows for the lending of money via platforms, with investors receiving their money back with interest. Like reward based crowdfunding, equity and debt crowdfunding are shaking off an image of being a lender of last resort and are fast becoming normalised financing options in the business world; an option which, particularly for new start ups or people wanting to fund ad hoc projects, may enable the chasing of those ‘waterfalls’ which the banks (and other more traditional funding lines) refuse.       

 

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01 June 2016

Brexit as a concept has been around for a long time. But recently, and understandably, politicians have been wielding their arguments for staying or going like battering rams on the nation's consciousness.

Most of what we hear about is the likely impact on issues such as migrant's eligibility for child benefit, holidaying abroad, and the cost of living and a string of carefully contrived barbs, delivered to the masses, are designed to move us one way or another in a ruthless ‘push me-pull me' dance on the borders of Brexit/Bremain.

But what of the impact on those in other spheres? Ones not in such high relief? Sadly, they don't seem to feature in the mass marketing of the Yes or No arguments.

Wisely, a number of commercial law firms have begun to create their own advice teams ready to advise clients on strategies for dealing with an exit from the EU. Politicians, it seems, and the opinion pieces in the media, which are currently deluging into the communal headspace, can't be trusted - they all have an agenda and it's not to prioritise commercial law clients.

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