Economic pressures loom large in all civil litigation. Those pressures are both the likely source of the underlying dispute and the driving force behind the course of the litigation and the manner in which the parties choose to negotiate settlement terms . . . or not. As I previously expressed here, two often opposing values shape the corporate trust market: traditional fiduciary responsibilities to trust beneficiaries and market-driven demands for increased profits. Changing market conditions will only heighten that tension in the future. This July 8, 2005 study by Tiburon Strategic Advisors reported that Bank of America has $126 billion in personal trust assets under management, Wells Fargo $62 billion, PNC Bank $38 billion, JP Morgan Chase $26 billion, and Wachovia $25 billion. While those sums are huge, they don’t tell the whole story. According to the study, banks are having trouble keeping up with changing market conditions.

  • In 1991, brokerage firms accounted for only 5% of the personal and institutional market share. Today they account for 32% of that market.
  • In 1998 there were only 117 non-bank companies offering trust services to consumers. In only five years that number grew nearly five fold to 564 companies.

How these dramatically changing market conditions will play themselves out in future litigation is anyone’s guess, but they will undoubtedly have an impact. Source: Estate Legacy Vaults