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TAMPA, Fla. – While still relatively green to the industry, trust services saw a number of new players enter the arena this year as this latest offering continues to be an option for members left out by banks that have set traditionally high asset minimums. Arkansas FCU, Navy FCU, FORUM CU, Seven Seventeen CU, began offering trust services through an alliance with MEMBERS Trust Co. Launched in 2003, by Tampa-based Suncoast Schools FCU and CUNA Mutual Insurance Society, the nationally-chartered trust firm reached its one-year anniversary mark in November and is now offering services to 28 credit unions with $74 million in assets under management. Alaska USA Trust, considered to be an industry veteran, hired an additional trust officer to its staff. Alaska USA Trust is a wholly-owned subsidiary of $3.5 billion Alaska USA FCU. Mountain American CU partnered with a regional company to bring trust services to its members. BECU Trust and UW Credit Union celebrated their one-year anniversaries above their target for the year, each respectively said. UW CU partnered with First Business Trust & Investment Services to bring those options to members. Columbia Credit Union and Omni American CU were also among those that reached the one-year mark for their trust services programs. Some industry players, including MEMBERS Trust, are in the early discussion stages of piloting programs that will see smaller credit unions have the ability to offer trust services through a shared network arrangement. The cross-sell of trust services to members that own businesses may also be seen in 2005, experts expect. Several key studies released this year highlighted how the transfer of wealth from one generation to the next could be a boon for credit unions that are considering or currently offering trust services. Indeed, the estimated personal net worth of Americans over age 50 is between $12 trillion and $15 trillion, which amounts to 70% of all personal wealth. With the appropriate background information, credit unions can design marketing strategies and plans for trust services, which is the objective of a new study by the Filene Research Institute, Inheritances: Who Expects to Leave Money to Heirs? by Jinkook Lee and William Kelly. Data for the study was taken from several on-going projects sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study the over-50 population through time. The authors found that a substantial number of people expect to leave a bequest of significant value – 68% are inclined to believe they will leave $10,000 or more and 62% are inclined to believe they will leave $100,000 or more. Among the over-50 population, study authors found that a substantial number of people expect to leave a bequest of significant value – 68% are inclined to believe they will leave $10,000 or more and 62% are inclined to believe they will leave $100,000 or more. Credit unions and CUSOs can set up special programs, according to another Filene study. For example, a giver wishing to set up an educational account for a recipient might access a 529 account through the credit union, and the giver and/or the recipient could add to that account. The credit union or its CUSO could also offer brokerage services to open special mutual fund accounts in the name of the recipient and advise the recipients on appropriate investments for the account. Special accounts in the name of a recipient dedicated for saving for a down payment on a house could also be arranged. Credit unions also beefed up their trust seminars for members, which have started to see an increase in member attendance. -

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