15 Oct 2012

Trustees tarnished but still crucial

7:01 am on 15 October 2012

The trustee sector has been tarnished by its involvement in the collapse of the finance firm sector, which has cost investors more than $4 billion in lost income.

But trustees remain important players in holding or managing and investing the assets for the benefit of others, not least in the charitable sector.

Guardian Trust in New Zealand was bought for $42 million last year by The Trust Company of Australia.

Chief executive John Atkin said the charitable trust sector remains important, making up about a tenth of the $2.7 billion in charity given by people in New Zealand last year.

Despite the dampening effects on giving caused by the global financial crisis, he says people are comfortable using trusts and more wealthier people are using them to support causes long term.

"In relation to the bequests or trusts already in existence I think there's more emphasis now on the professional distribution of that money to maximise the social return on the investment, so to speak, that is being made in various charitable causes."

Mr Atkin said wealthy people are also wanting to include an element of philanthropic giving in their wealth planning.

He said it seems more people living longer are looking for ways to give back to the community.

Mr Atkin said Guardian distributed about $32 million last year, or about 11% of the total giving by the 462 trusts.