Trust Matters

Whether they are personal or business related, all relationships are necessarily destined to either success or failure – there is unlikely to be middle ground. This is because the dominant face of a two-sided coin determines the outcome of any relationship. The reasons for the outcome can be startlingly similar, albeit they are likely to rest at opposite ends of the spectrum.


Relationships can succeed for various reasons but most are likely to require the following components: trust; effective communication; mutual respect; compatibility; shared values and goals; emotional support; compromise; openness and empathy.  Moreover, the parties to a successful relationship – whatever it may be – should demonstrate the ability to navigate challenges together and be sufficiently dedicated to making the relationship work.


It should come as no surprise then that relationships that end in failure are often found to be lacking in one or more of these essential areas. For all the positive vibes we can readily identify in the above list clearly the lack of any or some of them will lead to disaster. Chief among these are likely to include different expectations or changing priorities between the parties; neglect; emotional or physical infidelity together with additional stresses such as financial problems, health or external issues.


I placed trust first in the list above deliberately for it is my view that without trust on both sides, any relationship is simply not going to work. What do we mean by “trust”? These somewhat nebulous concepts can be difficult to define but this is my version:


“Trust is the firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability or strength of someone or something. It involves having confidence in the integrity, honesty and dependability of a person, organisation or system. Allowed to build over time through consistent actions, transparency and reliability trust will develop thus forming the foundations of successful relationships”.


Taking this, admittedly not very controversial point of view further, how does “the Trust” – a mainstay of the international financial services business worldwide – relate to my definition? Unsurprisingly, the use here of the word “trust” dates back centuries when this type of fiduciary arrangement was first developed. From the outset, it would not have worked without trust on all sides. There are many different types of trust in Acquarius’ world but the underlying theme is always the same.


What may come as more of a surprise is the realisation that trusts in their basic form have been around for centuries. Indeed the Romans had a similar concept – the original Latin term was “fideicommissum” where fideimeans trust and commissum the commitment to enter into the arrangement. Most Anglo-Saxon trust practitioners however date trusts as we know them to the crusades back in the 12thCentury.


As so often in such cases, the true origins have been embellished over time but the basics are historical fact. Brave knights had gone on their mission to the Near East leaving their property in the hands of “trusted” family and friends. Of course when they came back to England, maybe some years later, often they found their property now firmly in the supposed ownership of and being enjoyed by others.


Eventually, the “trust" was developed that seemed to address any such difficult issues. The knights (for many of them banded together for the crusade) were assured that their property was in safe hands during their proposed absence – and that it would be handed back to them upon their return.


Of course, I cannot pretend that trusts are quite that simple and indeed trust legislation has developed over the centuries mainly based on case law. Even today, decisions made at higher-level courts have a bearing on trusts and their administration, not just here in Gibraltar but around the world.


The overriding concept here was that the bold knights “trusted” their relatives and friends to look after the property as they went abroad on their adventures. They might have defined trust – had they thought about it in those terms – in broadly the same way I have set out.

Trust issues are all around us – or should be. Before committing your assets to a fiduciary company, ask yourself this question. Do you really trust these people to provide you the best, most professional, service available?  If so, go ahead. For us in Gibraltar, all of this is enshrined in local legislation and we are subject to strict regulation. At Acquarius, we do not just talk about trust and other such issues – we have to satisfy the regulator at all times that we mean what we say. This means that clients, and their advisers, may rely on that trust, always.


Please do not hesitate to get in touch with me if you would like to discuss these issues further.

View more