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60 second interview with Mort Mirghavameddin, Trust Corporation International

14 May 2019

April French Furnell

In our 60 second interview series, Citywealth speaks to Mort Mirghavameddin, CEO of Trust Corporation International on embracing change in the trust industry, allowing staff to flourish and visting the Marche region of Italy.

Tell me about your role.

I am CEO of Trust Corporation International in Guernsey and my principal objective upon being appointed in 2018 was to review the current strategy of the business. The trust industry over the last 10 years has been in a state of change with considerable M&A activity and consolidation. Global taxation and transparency have produced opportunities but change in the regulatory landscape has evidently been a burden, particularly to smaller trust companies. So there are multiple challenges to be met but Trust Corporation International is keen to embrace change and position ourselves for further growth in this competitive sector. I’m here to harness our highly qualified team of experts and ensure they are all pulling in the same direction to achieve that growth.

What does a typical day look like for you?

Two days are rarely the same which is part of the joy of this role. Dealing with the strategic direction, recruitment, regulatory and risk management issues which all present themselves constantly. I would say that I meet with various board members in one shape or another daily; whether one-on-one or as a quorum of a sub-committee of the board or in one of a multitude of forums we have in place.

Tell us about interesting client instructions.

We recently worked with a large UK resident non-domiciled family on restructuring its financial assets. This involved creating new trusts and companies, migrating existing companies and an in-house liquidator undertaking a complex restructuring exercise. We worked closely with advisers to establish the structure and implement investment protocols within an extremely tight timeframe. We also undertook an extensive “source of wealth” exercise, producing a memorandum of forensic analysis prepared by our accountants which has since been used by the client when engaging third parties. The range of work we undertook for this client is indicative of the breadth of our expertise; it included trust and corporate law, UK/US tax, exchange of information, accounting and liquidation, risk and compliance and investment matters. Our introducers have confidence in the directors’ knowledge and capability in understanding the more complex structures.

What challenges do your clients face and how are you helping your clients to overcome them?

In a globalised world clients tend to be more geographically scattered and their assets are too. Trusts and other wealth-holding structures have become increasingly complex so what clients really need is a technically-able trustee who can identify their needs, anticipate challenges and opportunities and propose creative solutions to complex problems. Our staff are well equipped to deal with complex, cross-border issues and have experience in working with top-level intermediaries and advisers to find the best solutions for clients. Currently the topic of “substance” is a matter that we are considering in some depth with the introduction of new laws in Guernsey.

What is your proudest professional achievement?

When I was chief executive of Investec Bank Channel Islands between 2000 and 2009 I presided over average profit growth of more than 25 per cent year-on-year. That success was the result of a well-planned and well-executed strategy implemented by a great team working in a progressive firm. I generally enjoy taking a firm from one place to a better place, so the changes at Investec, and latterly at Jordan International Bank, were proud moments. I hope to have future proud moments with Trust Corporation International.

What do you consider to be the most important attributes for a leader?

One of the most important attributes for a leader is to be able to recognise talent and see where potential can be harnessed. Trust Corporation International has always hired extremely high calibre staff and we want that tradition to continue. You have to be able to then trust your staff and allow them to flourish in an appropriately risk-managed environment.

Who do you most admire and why?

When I was younger I followed the career of Sir James Goldsmith. His book Tycoon is a good read if you enjoy entrepreneurial flair.

Where was the last place you travelled to for work or pleasure?

My Italian wife and I have recently renovated an old farmhouse which is overlooked by the church that we were married in. The house is in Offida in the Marche region of Italy so our travels tend to be to Italy.

If you weren’t in the wealth management industry, what else might you be doing?

I think in today’s world, younger people have many more opportunities, but probably less support to harness those opportunities, which I think we all have a duty to try to change.  Their world is arguably harder than mine.  All that said, I think working in sports-talent management may be from a legal and contract perspective would be exciting, but still wealth management.

How do you relax after a long day?

We have a 16-month-old girl, so the majority of my time is taken up with her. If I’m allowed out, the occasional round of golf is a blessing.

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