Covering all Bases for the Long Term at Trident Trust - November 2021
As we celebrate our double Asia award win at the 2021 WealthBriefingAsia awards, our Regional MD for Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa, Markus Grossmann, talks to WealthBriefingAsia about Trident and what makes Trident stand out from its competitors: the company's commitment to independence, a long-term private ownership structure, low staff turnover and local focus.
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Award-winning Trident Trust stands apart from rivals by its commitment to independence and long-term private ownership structure, low staff turnover and local focus despite the overall Group’s large footprint in scores of jurisdictions, one of its regional heads says.
Trident Trust, founded in 1978, has a lot of “boots on the ground”: it is present in more than 20 jurisdictions, across a footprint that spans Africa, the Americas, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe and the Middle East. Out of a payroll of more than 900 people, close to 300 of them work in the Asia region, testifying to its importance for the Group, Markus Grossmann, Zurich-based Regional Managing Director for Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa of Trident Trust, told this news service in an interview.
Grossmann joined Trident Trust in 2010, following a 20-year career in private banking, where he specialised in working with Asian and NRI/Indian clients. His remit means he has responsibility for its offices in Dubai, Hong Kong, New Zealand, Mauritius and Singapore. Grossmann also oversees the firm’s offices in Zurich and Geneva.
“Trident is an organisation that operates in a completely different way to the competition. It is the only global organisation in our business that is independently owned. We are not owned by a private equity house or suchlike,” he said and believes that Trident’s independence is a core feature of the firm’s success.
“Trident is very long-term and we go for sustainable growth and predominantly our growth is organic,” Grossmann said. “We don’t have a dominant head office… our focus is a local one. Each Managing Director is the key decision maker for the office and each office has a big say in the strategy of the respective region.”
“Trident does of course have Group leadership and centralised functions and there are regional heads. But it is predominantly a bottom-up strategy. Most of our staff in the local offices are local staff. The percentage of expats is decreasing by the month and we want to further develop this local talent,” he said. “We don’t just want people to have a job at Trident but have a career at Trident.” This is why we don’t send expats to those office who are likely to stay there for a few years only.
This news service asked Grossmann how his colleagues contributed to the success of the organisation. “They have contributed to all of the success. We have put together an incredibly strong team and it has the right culture and attitude. The local MDs have built very successful teams that collaborate very well within their team and with other Group offices. We offer a very welcoming and respectful office culture and we look well after our employees and offer them good career opportunities. Thanks to this, we have very low staff turnover. We lose some staff members but we hire a lot of talented people,” Grossmann replied.
The Hong Kong office mostly serves clients in HK and the mainland. Trident has also recently opened its first office in China (Shanghai) and will have another two offices soon.
Ironically, US sanctions against China have caused Chinese companies to list in the Hong Kong stock market, so Trident Trust has to some extent benefited from that, he said. “We built a team focused on corporate services for listed companies about two years ago.” Many Chinese firms establish employee benefit trusts and founders approach us for pre-IPO trusts, Grossmann continued. “We have had an explosion of requests and business in Hong Kong.”
Another growth area is in Singapore and it has been very successful in attracting family offices and ultra-high net worth individuals, he said. The jurisdiction’s Section 13 offering has been a big driver of Singaporean business for Trident Trust. Funds managed by an SFO in Singapore can enjoy tax exemption on income. For example, under the fund management tax incentives granted under Sections 13CA, 13R, and 13X of the Income Tax Act, funds managed by a Singapore-based fund management company are exempted from tax on a broad range of income. The Variable Capital Companies (VCC) structures that came into force in January 2020 were also important growth drivers, he said.
The Singapore office operation covers Southeast Asia and India, the latter representing a major opportunity unfurling for Trident, where it plans to establish a physical presence. Another growth market segment is for Non-Resident Indians, Grossmann said. “A lot of this is driven by the increasing internationalisation of Indian High Net Worth Individuals and companies,” Grossmann said. NRIs are seeing jurisdictional diversification due to the difficult domestic situation.”
“Our outlook is very positive for the Asia region. Business has kept going well during the pandemic, but as soon as countries can start to get out of COVID-19 restrictions I am confident that we will see business really accelerate as there is a lot of pent-up demand,” he continued.
How important are these awards and how will Trident Trust use them?
“They are the only awards that we enter. It is a testament and a recognition for the hard work of our employees. It is an independent recognition that should give prospective clients comfort that Trident is a trustworthy company that delivers top quality work. It is a very nice way of saying “thank you” to our employees. Employees who are happy working with a firm will also service the clients better."