NEW YORK – Credit unions considering or currently offering trust services may have an edge thanks to the number of lawsuits that have sprang up accusing trustees of mismanagement and poor service mainly as a result of bank mergers. The Wall Street Journal recently reported that "amid financial-industry consolidation, many trusts are ending up under the purview of geographically remote managers who work for vast corporations. Customers complain of problems such as frequent turnover, relentless marketing and poor communications." Some trust clients are fed up with the lack of personal service and others question who really benefits when a bank transfers clients' trust fund assets in their own mutual funds, a move that is legal, the WSJ reports. Other problems include many older trusts don't have clauses that spell out when and how a trustee can be removed making it difficult and expensive to switch. According to the FDIC, the estimated number of institutions offering trusts has dropped from 4,000 to 3,000 over the last decade, the WSJ reports. Personal trust assets grew to $1.1 trillion in 2003 from $928 billion in 2002, according to the VIP Forum, a research group in Washington that tracks the wealth-management industry.

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