Safeguarding Your Trust Assets
Since 1849, our clients and partners have relied on Comerica Trust, for confidentiality and safekeeping of their assets. We pledge to continue to earn that trust by providing security and safety for your assets, every day.
A corporate fiduciary has a duty to safeguard the assets of their trust and fiduciary clients. The following overview describes specifically how managed assets of Comerica's clients held within Comerica Trust are safeguarded.
How Are My Trust, Investment Management Assets Protected?
A bank may serve in one or more capacity when it provides financial services to individuals and businesses. Capacities may include lender, depository, fiduciary (for example, trustee, executor, agent) and custodian. The federal and state governments have laws and regulations that govern what banks can and cannot do when serving in each of these capacities.
There are specific regulations that apply directly to assets that clients entrust to a bank. For example, sometimes insurance applies and at other times it does not.
This article will explore these further and describe trust, fiduciary and custody accounts differ from deposit accounts and the advantages of the same.
Deposit Accounts Versus Trust, Fiduciary and Custody Accounts
Client assets, other than cash, held in a trust, fiduciary and custody accounts are segregated from the bank's other assets and are not subject to its creditors. In other words, assets in these account types do not become part of the bank's balance sheet.
Further, trust, fiduciary and custody accounts are held in the name of the account owner. For trust and fiduciary accounts (excluding custody accounts), the bank has a fiduciary responsibility to safeguard these assets.
A bank does not have a fiduciary duty for custody accounts. Custody accounts are not deposit accounts and therefore are segregated from other bank assets.
Because the assets, other than cash, in trust, fiduciary and custody accounts do not become part of the bank’s balance sheet the assets are also not insured by the FDIC.
What About Cash?
A bank may invest cash held in trust, fiduciary and custody accounts in money market funds. When facilitating the receipt and/or distribution of cash in these accounts to or on behalf of the account owner or beneficiaries the cash may be temporary deposits on the bank's balance sheet. The balances may benefit from FDIC insurance and collateralized by bank assets (e.g., Treasury bonds).
What Type of Oversight is Performed of Comerica Trust?
Bank trust departments are extensively regulated not only to protect the interests of clients, but also to ensure the safety and soundness of the financial institution for the public good. With respect to custodial and investment management services, state and federal regulations may address various aspects of these activities, including the fiduciary obligations of the bank, potential conflicts of interest, and the bank's management of transactional, strategic, compliance, and reputational risks.
Comerica Trust is subject to rigorous and frequent examinations by federal and state regulators such as the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC). Comerica's regulators ensure that the bank appropriately follows laws and regulations.
Segregation of Duties
Comerica segregates employees' duties in the daily execution of trust, fiduciary and custody services including investment management, fiduciary administration and operations. No single individual can initiate, authorize, and execute transactions such as cash and asset transactions (for example, the transfer of securities and the distribution of cash) and client information (e.g., change of address). Dual control procedures ensure that a single individual, acting alone, cannot complete all phases of a transaction.
Record Keeping Requirements
In addition to records for tax and accounting purposes, banks and investment managers must maintain detailed records to document and confirm securities transactions. Comerica records securities transactions daily in chronological order and records include the account name, description of the securities, amount purchased or sold, trade date, and name of the broker/dealer purchaser or seller.
Since Comerica Trust is a fiduciary institution-not a depository-bank or brokerage firm clients' assets are segregated from its own assets. Client assets are custodied in the name of the trust. This means Comerica Bank's creditors do not have claim to clients' assets.
Comerica Trust, like other trust companies, may not pledge, lend or margin fiduciary assets that are held in custody.
Providing a final layer of protection, Comerica Trust is regularly audited by independent and internal auditors, and is subject to routine examination by the OCC.
Comerica Trust maintains certain insurances that can protect clients, such as errors and omissions insurance and surety bonds.
Note: Errors and omissions insurance and surety bonds do not protect a client portfolio from market risk.