Trident Trust, Truly Committed to Asia - September 2022
In the last part of his interview with Hubbis, our Managing Director for Asia Pacific, Middle East and Africa, Markus Grossmann, discusses Trident Trust's three core pillars and what makes Trident stand out from its competitors. He also highlights how much our Singapore and Hong Kong grew over the years to become leading players in the respective areas.
Global independent fiduciary and fund services firm Trident Trust began life in 1978, opened in Hong Kong in 1992 which celebrates its 30th anniversary this year. The Singapore office has been opened in 2010 and has also been in operation for more than 10 years. Together the two offices employ over 170 staff.
The 3 Pillars
The first of the three pillars of Trident’s service offering is their trustee services, which involve solutions and services for wealthy Asian families looking for the benefits a trust can deliver, typically asset protection, estate planning, inheritance deferment for their children, including the protection and preservation of family assets.
The second pillar is Trident’s fund administration business, which provides the infrastructure, administration and accounting for third-party asset managers, whether hedge funds, private equity, debt or real estate funds. This area is enjoying especially rapid growth, driven by accommodative legislation from Singapore in recent years (VCC – Variable Capital Company) to attract Asia super-wealthy families to use Singapore as their asset management hub.
The third pillar is corporate services, which Trident provide from a very wide range of jurisdictions, covering both offshore and onshore. Those include incorporation and registered office services, secretarial services and management representation.
Markus highlights the independence of the firm as a core feature of its long-term success. “We are one of the very few globally operating and privately-held businesses in our sector,” he reports.
Trident’s DNA is to achieve long-term sustainable growth and balance. There is no pressure for short term performance from the Group’s global management. This approach, together with our focus on growing our teams through organic hiring and having all the right people sitting in all the right seats, keeps our foundations strong, says Markus.
Now employing close to 1,000 staff worldwide the Trident Trust Group provides services to financial institutions, professional advisors, asset managers, family offices and international businesses. Both of the Group offices in Asia - Singapore and Hong Kong - provide the three core services.
Both Hong Kong and Singapore have grown to over 80 staff each. Singapore has recently moved into a new and much bigger office to accommodate the growing team. Markus comments: “We are committed to our staff, clients and business partners and want to offer a place to share, connect and exchange. As a people’s business, we feel that in person meetings and in person face-to-face interactions are vital.”
Asia Pacific –A Huge Growth Market
He highlights some key differences between Singapore and Hong Kong for Trident. “Back in 2010, the Hong Kong business predominantly focused on corporate services and the management of offshore companies, but when we opened our Singapore office, we decided to focus on trusts and succession planning as the market for offshore companies was already very well serviced. Hong Kong has continued its success based on the provision of onshore and offshore corporate services but has been particularly successful in expanding and growing the trust and fund business too with a key focus on China and is now a well-respected, established and leading player in the market.
He adds that Trident’s expansion in the fund administration arena has been buoyed by the remarkably attractive and forward-thinking regulatory environment Singapore has been creating and the many tax incentives available under the Singapore Income Tax Act and under which the rising tide of single-family offices operate.
The Singapore Variable Capital Company is another weapon in Singapore’s armoury to attract more assets to its shores. “While the VCC at the moment is not available for family offices, but only for commercial fund managers, the arrival has added further impetus to fund expansion here, and we have been assisting a number of asset managers in redomiciling their existing funds to Singapore,” Markus notes.
Meanwhile, he explains that Trident’s family office type clients are often utilising all three of the pillars that Trident offers. “They will come in, establish a trust, create the family office holding company through our corporate service team, and sometimes utilise our fund administration team for full fund administration, redemptions, subscriptions and administration,” he reports.
Markus also comments on the company plan for Asia Pacific, where he says the Group works collaboratively across Singapore, Hong Kong and New Zealand. North Asia is handled largely through Hong Kong. China will have another two offices soon. Singapore covers Southeast Asia and India. The advisory office in Delhi has started operation and works closely with the other Trident offices.
Getting Personal with Markus Grossmann
Markus joined Trident Trust in 2010 to open the Singapore office, following a more than two-decade career in private banking. Initially Managing Director and Founder of the Singapore office, he is now Regional Managing Director for the Asia business, with responsibility for the offices in Hong Kong, New Zealand, Dubai, Mauritius and Singapore. He also oversees the Trident offices in Switzerland, Zurich and Geneva, where he is now based, and from where he looks after some of the key global partnerships Trident has established over many years.
He is Swiss, hailing from the famous tourist destination of Interlaken, where he also trained as a banker at the start of his career, before moving to Zurich, to train and work with UBS as a private banker. As from the mid-1990s he worked with UBS covering Asian clients, including a move to England for five years to head the Asia business of UBS out of the UK, before moving full-time to Singapore in 2008.
Trident was then able to have Markus joining them. “After a lot of consideration, I took the plunge,” he recalls, “I was in a great role with a great bank, but the banking industry changed so much during and after the Financial Crisis, I suddenly felt it was the right thing to do. Hence, I launched the Trident business in Singapore, and we have never looked back; it has been a very positive and amazing adventure.”
Married with a 21-year-old son, Grossmann is today based in Zurich from where he runs APAC, the Middle East and Africa businesses for Trident. Leisure time used to be spent playing a lot of squash and football, but as he has got a bit older, he prefers less orthopedically challenging activities. “I still play some squash, but it is really a younger person’s sport. I also love playing tennis, mountain biking and run as much as I can; I like to be active and keep fit.”
He is a keen traveller still, enjoying visiting the various Trident offices in Asia Pacific as well as partners and clients in many locations. “I may not be the smartest in our teams,” he jokes, modestly, “but I like people and have a vision, both of which help me in my role. I enjoy travelling to different places, learning about different cultures, and I think I work well as a people person overseeing many different markets, teams and partners.”