We'll look back on 2020 as a time our lives changed - the way we work, the way we socialise and the massive impact and knock-on effects to some sectors of the global economy due to national lockdowns.

Prior to this year, the trust and corporate services market was forging ahead, experiencing an unprecedented pace of change and consolidation. But what has been the impact of COVID-19 on trust and corporate services businesses?

Well, a recent survey conducted by TrustQuay of 90 wealth managers, private banks, fund administrators, trust and corporate services providers, has found that 50% of respondents said they expected business activity to return to pre-COVID levels within 6 months, with a further 26% saying business would bounce back within a year. Those expecting recovery to take more than 12 months equated to only 24% of respondents.

This is positive news for the industry given the overall negative economic backdrop, with three-quarters of businesses anticipating the impact of COVID-19 to be short term.

At TrustQuay, this has also been our experience and we have seen continuing activity in the market by signing 4 new technology deals over the summer months.

Despite the restrictions imposed by the coronavirus pandemic, the drivers of the trust and corporate services market remain - increasing consolidation, ongoing demands from regulators and rising expectations of end clients - these are continuing the pressure on firms to digitalise their business models in order to both survive and thrive in the coming years.

Over the summer, our implementation work has also continued unabated, with a full programme of training, implementation and migrations of clients’ legacy platforms to our 5Series and NavOne systems.

A good example of this is a ‘go-live’ we completed for a new customer which took place in August. Under coronavirus restrictions, we did not have the ability to travel to the client’s premises and be onsite as we normally would over a go-live weekend. So instead, we structured and organised the whole process to take place remotely.

Being unable to conduct meetings in-person, we used a variety of digital solutions to replicate the important two-way communication that is required during a complex migration and go-live of a new system. Using a WhatsApp group, we were able to keep constantly in touch for brief and casual updates and we used Zoom (lots of Zoom) when more face-to-face interaction was required.

This proved a very satisfactory alternative, with all project update meetings taking place on Zoom and, on the final day of the go-live, we set up an all-day drop-in Zoom meeting so that project team members on both sides could drop in and report on progress or discuss and resolve any issues.

Having successfully completed this migration smoothly and on schedule by working entirely remotely, it gives us great confidence in using digital means as a way of implementing remote projects while coronavirus restrictions remain in place.

While we all hope to return to a world of more face-to-face contact in the near future, it is encouraging that the impact on both trust and corporate services is expected to be short term and that the industry is increasingly turning to technology as a solution for these turbulent times.

About the Author

Robert Browning

Robert is Managing Director at TrustQuay