Alaskan trust firm opens Wilmington office
WILMINGTON – In marking its 25th anniversary, the Alaskan trust administration company Peak Trust Co. opened its first East Coast office in Wilmington on June 1.
One of the leading trust companies nationwide, Anchorage-based Peak Trust Co. has long had an eye on Delaware, said Matt Blattmachr, the firm’s CEO. Formerly named Alaska Trust Co., the firm changed its name in 2016 when it opened an office in Nevada and the First State was its targeted third stop – and therefore covering the three top-tier markets for the creation of trusts.
“We have a lot of clients on the East Coast, and specifically in Delaware, and that with Delaware’s great trust laws made the decision pretty easy,” he told Delaware Business Times, estimating that upwards of a third of clients live on the East Coast.
A firm four time zones away from Wilmington may seem like a strange pairing for clients here, but Blattmachr explained that the connection goes back to the firm’s founding in 1997, when the Alaska Trust Act was passed. That act, among other things, gave greater flexibility in the administration of trusts by allowing directed trusts and by allowing self-settled trusts, which allowed beneficiaries to also claim tax benefits.
The act – not unlike the impact of Delaware’s 1981 Financial Center Development Act – led to an influx of trust clients to Alaska, including many from Delaware. The First State quickly followed suit and passed largely identical laws for trusts, as have nearly two dozen other states, but the first-adopter status has kept Alaska among the busiest states, Blattmachr said.
While many people probably think of wealthy families establishing trusts to pass down funds to their children, Blattmachr said they have more clients with smaller sums of money for children with special needs or who lost parents in an accident. Others have set up trusts to perpetually assist nonprofits or charities of their choice.
Peak Trust administers about 3,000 accounts for 2,000 families, with clients in all 50 states, Blattmachr said. While it doesn’t manage investments in securities like an investment firm, Peak Trust manages at least $10 billion in assets on behalf of its trustors, he added.
“We do the not-so-sexy things of trust administration: taxes, legal filings, distribution processing, etc. That’s really our bread and butter,” Blachmattr said. “One of the foundational goals of the trust company was to be a full-service provider, but offer the services a la carte, so clients can pick just what they need, and not more than what they want.”
Peak Trust, which has more than 30 employees nationwide, opened its Delaware office at The Concord off Silverside Road in north Wilmington with four employees.
“We plan to grow that rapidly assuming that this is a successful endeavor,” Blattmachr said, noting they expect to be closer to 40 employees by the end of the year.