The Funds Partnership Asia’s Salary Guide 2019 : Trust & Fiduciary Services

25 Jul 2019


The market is on the upside in this space as firms are actively hiring to support the booming investment industry. In this report, we cover a variety of key hiring trends and market shifts – including outsourcing, the talent war between banks and independent firms, mid-career shifts, and how administrators are being re-skilled to take on more client-facing roles.

We also notice the growth in opportunities in Greater China region, which requires fluency in the language as well as understanding of up-to-date regulatory requirements. Furthermore, we explore the increasing trend in consolidation practices and how they have affected and introduced new role requirements.

The information from this guide is based on 176 candidates across Asia.


We have covered the following topics in this article:

  • Qualifications & Accreditation

  • Outsourcing Trends

  • Hiring Trends:

    • Trust Management

    • Banks VS Independent Trust

    • Newly Created Opportunities

    • Consolidation Practices

  • Salary Table (Hong Kong)

  • Salary Table (Singapore)

Qualifications & Accreditation

Salaries are largely dependent on one’s education and qualifications, given the increased specifications in hiring a Trust & Fiduciary professional. In general, they prefer candidates accredited with STEP (Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners) as well as bachelor studies in law, tax or accountancy qualifications. It is extremely important to constantly upskill and keep up-to-date with the latest regulations or they would risk being made redundant.

Fresh Graduates:
Candidates will be able to stand out with an LLB, BA, accountancy or tax. It would be a valuable experience if they are able to land a role in a bank as a junior trust officer. Furthermore, upon graduation, it is highly encouraged that they enroll for post-graduate diploma with the STEP or Certificate in Trust Services with the Wealth Management Institute (WMI). Oftentimes, candidates who are legally trained but not called to the bar may find themselves presented with opportunities in the Trust & Fiduciary services industry covering Business Development, Corporate Secretarial, Compliance (not limited to Administration).

Mid-Career Switch:
For a mid-career pivot into this industry, it is crucial that candidates keep themselves abreast of the current compliance changes, new rules and regulations. Furthermore, having a thorough understanding of Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) and the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) would be an important attribute an employer looks for when seeking out a new employee from a different industry.

Common career switches (due to transferable skill sets) include:

  1. Lawyer (Legally-trained and completed the bar) → within the Private Practice (Private Client desk) or Independent Private Trust Company (Business Developer or Private Bank trustee), or Wealth Planner
  2. Client Accountant / Corporate Accountant → to Trust Accountant
  3. Corporate Secretarial → to Private Trust Administrator
  4. Tax & Auditor (Private Client) → to Trust Relationship Manager

Outsourcing Trends

Due to rising operational and manpower costs, most Trust companies are moving their administration department into low-cost countries. Otherwise, they tend to re-skill their administrators to take on a more client-facing role, which includes relationship management, up-selling or cross-selling. Administrators who are less suited to a client-facing role would likely be re-skilled to compliance, which includes monitoring and review or processes. However, back-end accounting cannot be fully replaced or outsourced to low cost countries, and hence, it is still important to keep up-to-date with regulations.

Another upcoming trend is that private banks are divesting the Trust administration business and it is becoming more attractive for qualified candidates to consider Independent or Private Trust companies. They are exposed to do the end-to-end processes, in comparison to Private Banks where the process operates more in silos and the department is compartmentalized.

Hiring Trends

Trust Management
A modern and typical trust structure needs Trust Administrators who are skillful at navigating complicated and complex legal, tax, investment and regulatory issues.

In addition, qualified and experienced Wealth Planners are able to take on trust service roles once they are equipped with Private Practice (Private Client services), and in-house legal, tax and administrative skills.

Furthermore, recent trends show, Private Trust Companies hiring qualified incumbents with abilities to administer trusts for multinational families, (i.e Single-Family offices, Multi-Family office). Fluency in spoken and written Mandarin and Cantonese are becoming increasingly critical, especially with the growth in opportunities in the Greater China region. Nonetheless, an understanding of FATCA, and CRS are important as usual.

Bank vs Independent Trust
A talent war between banks and independent trust companies are noticeable and growing. Firms are willing to offer slightly higher than average market rate for marketable talent.

On one hand, employees of independent trust firms are hoping to join banks for better prospects and recognition, due to their global brand status.

Conversely, those working in banks may hop over to independent trust firms to gain greater exposure on full-scale trust service, while eliminating the bureaucracy and silos.

Newly Created Opportunities
There is an increased demand for roles in business development covering Greater China (China and Hong Kong) in the areas of Trust (Private Client) and Corporate Services.

Furthermore, third-party fund services providers or offshore law firms are expanding into the wider business, offering additional governance and trust services. This is especially so in Hong Kong where there is life insurance trust, pre-IPO trust and employee benefit trust.

Consolidation Practices
In recent years, the industry has undergone consolidation by regional leaders, as well as acquisitions by Private Equity (PE) funds. They are attracted to the stable revenues and opportunity for wider businesses. We can expect consolidation to continue and pick up over the next decade, and it is very likely that the global markets would be controlled by the top 10 firms.

To remain as one of the market leaders, firms should be constantly asking:

What segments, services, jurisdictions have brought in the revenue?
What differentiates us from our competitors?
What are our main channels to obtain sources for new clients? How can we maintain relationships with clients and key intermediaries?
Do we have the right talent to drive our strategies?
How robust are our regulatory and compliance processes?
Do we have a high-calibre back office that can deliver?

Salary Tables

Read the pdf version of the Funds Partnership Asia’s Salary Guide for Fund Administration and Asset Servicing here: Funds Partnership Asia Salary Guide 2019_Trust & Fiduciary Services