Trustee corporations were originally authorised under individual State or Territory legislation to carry out their traditional business, including administering deceased estates, managing trusts and acting as an attorney under a power of attorney.
On 6 May 2010, the Commonwealth assumed responsibility for the regulation of the traditional activities of private trustee companies under the Financial Services Modernisation Act 2009.
The several Public Trustees may 'opt in' to the new regime, administered by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, with the consent of their respective State / Territory government.
Trustee corporations (private trustee companies and Public Trustees) are required to have adequate levels of capital and insurance. Directors and senior management are expected to be "fit and proper" persons with appropriate experience and expertise, so as to ensure that trustee activities are carried out in an ethical, professional and efficient manner.
Trustee corporations are obliged to maintain accurate client information and records of transactions. The supervisors receive regular financial reports from each trustee corporation, and have the power to impose sanctions and conduct on-site inspections.
Like individuals who act as trustees, trustee corporations are also subject to the relevant regional Trustee Act and to the duties of a trustee at general law.
Trustee corporations are subject to certain other Commonwealth legislation in respect of some of their other activities, ie:
- the Superannuation Industry (Supervision) Act 1993 (SIS), when they act as "Registrable Superannuation Entity Licensees" for superannuation funds. (Information on the supervision of superannuation funds can be obtained at www.apra.gov.au)
- the Managed Investments Act 1998 (MIA), when they operate managed funds as a "Responsible Entity". (Information on the supervision of managed investment schemes can be obtained at www.asic.gov.au)
(Relevant State, Territory and Commonwealth legislation can be accessed via www.austlii.edu.au)