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| 1 minute read

Successor trustee roles - a mixed blessing?

It is no secret that economic turbulence brings with it opportunities for successor trustees to step into the shoes of others who are slow, unwilling or unable to act. This could be for any number of reasons - with reputational concerns, evolving risk appetites and downgrades triggering failures to meet eligibility criteria becoming more and more prevalent. These openings offer ambitious successor trustees more than just a chance to earn fees: it is an opportunity to distinguish themselves from competitors and establish new issuer/investor relationships. More often than not, therefore, a delegation or replacement is of benefit to both incumbent and successor trustee however, given the inherent unpredictability of the markets, ascertaining quite what a successor is signing up for can be a complex task. Understanding the overall credit profile of the relevant transaction has never been more important or more difficult. Is there an imminent risk of default? Will the successor trustee be dragged into a protracted enforcement process, potentially with competing creditor factions? Where will the value break should an issuer slip into insolvency? All of these considerations have an impact that goes well beyond the calculation of the successor trustee's fee. The economic outlook can and should be seen as a considerable opportunity for successor trustees, but advice from industry experts must be to proceed with cautious optimism and to ensure that any and all transactions are entered into with eyes wide open. 

No one wants to be the markets equivalent of this overly-sanguine forecaster, dismissing the chance of disaster, especially now. In March alone, waves of stress have hit the banking systems in the US and Europe. Breathless warnings around the potential for a rerun of the great financial crisis of 2008 are plastered all over the whiffy bits of the internet, but alerts over potentially ugly market outcomes are also dotted across the more sensible corners of investment bank research.


corporate trust, trustee