Pennsylvania Family Office Provider To Start South Dakota Trust Company

Charter would likely help DM Trust defectors build out a “formidable” platform.

PIERRE, SD, Mar 3 – Sterling Trustees LLC, a Philadelphia-area family office service provider, has filed to receive a trust charter in South Dakota, according to a report released this week by the South Dakota Division of Banking.

A Sterling spokesman confirmed to the Trust Advisor that it has submitted the paperwork to launch a public trust company in the state, but declined to comment further while the application is still pending.

According to the company’s website, Sterling currently provides private trust and family office services to high-end clients; it also offers trust administration services to investment advisors, lawyers and other professionals to add value to their own client relationships.

CEO Stanley Joffe is known in Philadelphia legal circles as a high-powered attorney focused on international estate planning issues. He founded and ran then-Pennsylvania-chartered trust company DM Trust (now operating as Everest Trust with a Delaware charter) as a subsidiary of local law firm Duane Morris in 2007 but went independent a year later to launch Sterling. His son Antony followed him to his new company and serves as president.

“My guess is that they broke up with Duane Morris and formed this new deal themselves,” Jeffrey Lauterbach, founder of Capital Trust, told us. “They look like they’ve got a pretty formidable family office set-up, so this charter might give them added support for that."

The trust charter would likely help Sterling build out a "formidable” trust platform, he said. In particular, he noted that the company is using Rockit, the elite high-end family office software package developed to handle the Rockefeller family’s needs.

As to why they picked South Dakota, the state has actively courted the business through a combination of an inviting tax regime and trust-friendly statutes. Sterling is the second public trust company this year to start up in the state.

Lauterbach says, “They probably just decided they liked it better than Delaware. Delaware’s gotten kind of tough.”

South Dakota's getting even easier. The state legislature passed a bill this week that aims to “strengthen the legal and regulatory framework for public trust companies.”

Scott Martin, contributing editor, The Trust Advisor Blog.


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