Novia Global, the Bath, England-based international platform business, is today pulling the wraps off a new platform ‘functionality’ it’s quietly developed exclusively for the international trusts industry – which, Novia Global chief executive Bill Vasilieff says, actually requested it.
The reason they asked for it, he explains, is because trust industry practitioners typically struggle with the extensive reporting requirements they have, which involve monitoring the performance of the assets held in the trusts which they are responsible for.
There are also so-called “dual authorisation requirements” – sometimes referred to as the “four eyes principle” – with trusts, which means that more than one person is required to carry out and authorise certain transactions on a trust portfolio.
This requirement, too, Novia Global’s new trusts “functionality” has been specifically designed to accommodate, and can be tailored to the Trust company’s requirements, Vasilieff says.
“The reporting requirements that trustees have to perform is traditionally extremely time consuming, and expensive for trust companies,” Vasilieff explains.
“We listened to what the trust providers told us about these issues, and designed a number of built-in report features specifically for trustees that take this work away, as well as providing data for multiple discretionary fund managers – who may be involved in managing an individual investor’s trust – in a single, consistent format.”
The ‘trust performance’ issue
Trustee responsibility for trust performance has been a growing issue in the industry recently – in part as a result, some say, of some high-profile lawsuits that have seen trust beneficiaries sue trustees for failing to oversee their trust’s liquid assets properly.
Vasilieff says that because Novia Global’s new trust functionality makes use of “real data” to give trustees and financial advisers the ability to monitor and compare, in detail, how the various DFMs are performing, and also “the ability to switch DFMs at the touch of a button”, it offers trustees a tool for boosting their oversight – and thus, at least potentially, heading off such problems.
Trust industry practitioners have told Novia Global that they welcome the real data facility in particular, Vasileff says, noting that until now, many have had to rely on such sources of performance data as that given to them by their DFMs.
“This [the Novia trusts functionality] allows trustees and advisers to monitor how the different DFMs [overseeing the assets within a trust] are performing at any given moment in time.
“It enables the trustees and advisers to measure market performance and, if they both think it’s necessary, to make changes.”
Time of change
Novia Global’s new trusts functionality comes at a time of considerable change in the trusts industry, which has come under scrutiny recently for various reasons, including, in some quarters, what critics have said has been a lack of transparency.
Trust regulations in a number of jurisdictions, including Jersey, the Cayman Islands, New Zealand and Hong Kong, have been updated in recent years, and there has been a move, in the US in particular, towards what are called “directed trusts”, which place a greater emphasis on trustee involvement in the management of a trust’s liquid assets.
Vasilieff, (pictured above), is one of the UK’s best-known platform experts, having been one of the co-founders of Selestia, one of the market’s earliest financial platforms. It was launched in 2001, and subsequently acquired and merged into Skandia’s platform operation by Old Mutual in 2006.
Novia began in 2009, and its international operation, Novia Global, in 2015.
The trusts functionality is being launched as a Novia Global venture, in acknowledgement of the cross-border nature of the trusts industry, according to Vasilieff, who said the company’s team of eight technicians and analysts spent “a lot of time over the past year designing and building” it.
Novia Global’s platform operating system has been designed for it by GBST, an Australia-based, ASX-listed, globally-active web platform and technology services provider, in association with UK-based Financial Express, which provides the platform’s data and portfolio management tools.
Novia Global is setting out its new trust functionality with an initial panel of nine discretionary fund management services: Marlborough, Smith & Williamson, MitonOptimal, Tavistock Investments, City Asset Management, Bordier & Cie, Brooks Macdonald, LGT Vestra – and Novia’s own in-house DFM, London-based Copia Capital Management.
Heading up sales of the new trusts industry platform functionality service is Chris Skelhorn.
The company doesn’t say which, if any, trusts have signed up to use its new service, but it is understood to be in discussions with key trust companies in the Channel Islands and the Caribbean.
About Novia Global
Since it was launched in 2015, Novia Global has been expanding, as it reaches out to growing numbers of advisers in multiple jurisdictions who are seeking to outsource at least some of their wealth management responsibilities, and consolidate their clients’ investments in a single place. Among Novia Global’s competitive advantages over most of its UK wrap platform rivals are its multi-currency platform tools and product wrappers, company spokespeople say.
Although Novia Financial and its international business are both based in Bath, Copia recently opened an office on Brook Street in Mayfair.
(To read about Copia’s new iShares portfolio range for “decumulating” clients, click here.)
This story originally appeared in the May issue of International Investment, which may be viewed online by clicking here.