Trust Company Sector Update
Trust law has evolved over time, most recently with modern trust laws in the 1980s and 90s established by certain states such as Delaware, Nevada, and South Dakota. Other states, such as Tennessee, have developed compelling trust statutes in more recent years. Just as trust law has changed with the regulatory environment, trust companies are changing to meet clients’ evolving needs.
Trust banks have generally lagged the broader indices since the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. Against a bearish backdrop for the industry, all three trust bank stocks declined in the last few months of the year with falling client asset balances and rising labor costs. Northern Trust and BNY Mellon performed more in line with the market and traditional banks while State Street’s underperformance is largely attributable to investor skepticism surrounding its purchase of Charles River Systems last summer.
All three publicly traded trust banks (BNY Mellon, State Street, and Northern Trust) underperformed other categories of asset managers during 2017, and only State Street outperformed the S&P 500. While all three benefited from growth in Assets Under Custody and Administration (AUCA) and Assets Under Management (AUM) due to strong equity markets in 2017, the trust banks performed more in line with U.S. banks generally during 2017.
The First Quarter 2017 Asset Management newsletter has been released. This quarter’s newsletter focuses on the mutual fund sector, which has been plagued by asset outflows into ETFs and other passive strategies for most of the last decade. The first two months of this year do, however, offer a ray of hope as 45% of U.S. based active managers beat their relevant benchmark, resulting in February being the first month of inflows into active products since April 2015.
All three publicly traded trust banks (BNY Mellon, State Street, and Northern Trust) outperformed the market in 2016, continuing their upward trajectory over the last few years but still lagging the broader indices since the financial crisis of 2008 and 2009. Placing this recent comeback in its historical context reveals the headwinds these businesses have been facing in a low interest rate environment that has significantly compressed their money market fees and yields on fixed income investments.
As inspiration for fair deals and perfect swaps, we looked into Midland State Bancorp’s recent acquisition of Sterling National Bank’s trust department. From what we’ve read about the deal, it appears both parties walked away with what they wanted.