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Trust workhorses 

(Article published in the Apr 23, 2008 issue of Manila Standard Today)  

The four incumbent officers of TOAP, namely, Raul Diaz, President, Marvin Fausto, Vice President, Ma. Elena S. Sarmiento, Treasurer, and Eduardo Chavez, Secretary, sterling their respective and combined qualifications as they are, cannot by themselves take the Philippine trust industry to its next trillion anytime soon.  The trust industry has grown so big, its constituencies so numerous, and its concerns so diverse, that they need the support of a team of workhorses pulling in the same direction but harnessed to different issues affecting the trade of the Philippine trustee. 

 Fortunately for Deputy Governor Nesting Espenilla’s aspiration of continued partnering between the BSP and TOAP in order to achieve their mutual goal of, in Espenilla’s words, “building a healthy financial system that creates opportunities for all”, that needed assistance is certain to come from the other five members of the TOAP board for this year.

 Ma. Theresa R. Toledo, Trust Officer and Vice President of Hong Kong and Shanghai Bank’s branch in the Philippines (HSBC), is expected to provide the perspective of the long time foreign banks operating trusts in the country.  Maite, however, is not expected to simply play the role of the mouthpiece of her employer, prevalent though the tendency may be in some other foreign banks to impose that role on their locals. Maite has had over two decades years of experience in trust management and operations, and while the last 12 of which were spent with HSBC Philippines, providing, with her team, trust administration services to retail as well as corporate clients and handling various aspects of their onshore and offshore transactions, she owes her globally adaptable competence to the tutelage she received from local banks.


 She started with trust when she joined Rizal Commercial Banking Corporation (RCBC) as assistant portfolio manager, at the prodding of Atty. Alegria R. Legaspi whom, in turn I had, about five years earlier, prodded into trying out trust legal work at Far East Bank and Trust Company.

 After three years, she was recruited to be the manager and head of the trust department of Planters Development Bank (can one find a better place to learn prudence and parsimony than in Chuching Tambunting’s shop?) where she steered her unit into serving as the trustee of various securitization projects, long before the rest of the market had learned that it was possible to separate the merits of a project from the credit of the proponent.

 Reevie Vergara, now Treasurer of the Land Bank of the Philippines, then asked her to be one of the original five that were tasked to re-establish the trust department of HSBC.  She started out as business development manager and eventually headed the trust unit.  Maite, at the helm of the trust department, grew HSBC’s trust business 400%, established formal synergies with other trust teams of HSBC abroad to ensure global delivery of the bank’s trust service,   and, as a natural consequence of prior experience in securitization, enabled HSBC to be the security trustee and nominal issuer of the asset participation certificates of the securitized receivables of the initial development of Fort Bonifacio Global City. 

 Maite will move to another foreign bank next month, but I am sworn to secrecy by her new employer until formal announcements are made in due course.

 At the TOAP where she has for more than 20 years been always an active member, Maite has been is an efficient organizer of events, in addition to being a superb emcee of contrasting special activities, from the recent lectures open to the public that were offered by the trust industry on the occasion of the Trust Consciousness Week this year to the ad lib-intensive parties and letting-hair-down activities of the association, such as Christmas parties and other social occasions.  She is a natural to be the head the Committee for Special Events this year as she was in previous years.

 Together with Maite providing the TOAP some global viewpoints will be ING Bank’s Irene Diomampo, who heads the Ways and Means Committee.  Irene already had had 15 years of trust experience when she joined ING Bank N.V.  where she has been working at for the last 7 years; at FEBTC, she was at the helm of a team of portfolio managers in charge of the management, administration, and formulation of investment strategy of the bank’s trust clients. 

 Irene at ING is in head of Institutional Accounts Services of ING’s branch in Manila.  She comes well prepared academically both for her job at the bank as well as for the task of raising funds for the Association’s activities and advocacies.  She completed the Executive Development Program of the Asian Institute of Management and holds an economics degree from the University of the Philippines.

 Josephine Garcia Cervero can be expected to articulate the view of the “big boys” of the Trust Industry.  Joy is Vice President of Metropolitan Bank and Trust Company and heads the business development division of Metrobank’s Trust Banking Group.  She was graduated at UP Diliman and is presently completing the requirements for her Masters in Business Administration, majoring in Finance, at the De La Salle University Graduate School.  She brings to the board  her more than 13 years of experience working with various institutions involved in trust work, primarily managing customized portfolios of high net worth personal clients as well as retirement funds of various corporations, funds of different school monies, the mandated trusts of pre-need companies, and the requirements of corporate agencies and trusts.

 Joy will take care of the Arbitration, Ethics and Education Committee, ensuring that the industry players remain focused on the enduring values of trust work as they tackle the new issues of good behavior just arising in the present day.

The voice of the middle-sized trust departments will not be muted at the TOAP board.  They have Angel Marie L. Pacis, Vice President of RCBC, and Serafin P. Tongco, Trust Officer and Senior Vice President of Banco Filipino Savings and Mortgage Bank, to speak on and in their behalf.  Angie will be in charge of the Information and Publication Committee while Bong will be recruiting and evaluating the new members.

 Angie brings to the board strong academic credentials.  She was graduated as Bachelor of Economics, cum laude, by the UP School of Economics in Diliman, and holds a Masters in Business Administration from the same university.  It was with distinction that she finished the one year trust course offered by the Trust Institute Foundation of the Philippines.

 Bong, on the other hand, is a holder of a Masters in Business Management from the Asian Institute of Management, earned after having been graduated with the degree of Bachelor of Arts, major in Economics, by the Ateneo De Manila University.  At Banco Filipino, he is in charge of marketing trust products as well as of accounting and operations of its trust department.  Bong is no stranger to TOAP.  He is a “balik-board,” having sat out the break needed following three consecutive terms as board member.

 Some members of TOAP board are also teach at the Trust Institute Foundation of the Philippines.  Bong Tongco has been a trustee since 2002.  Angie Pacis teaches portfolio management and equity investments; Maite Toledo explains the association’s Code of Ethics. But all, in TOAP’s 2008-09 Board, except one, graduated from the Institute.  The only exception is Ed Chavez and only because he is one its founders.

 In the company of the late Terry Gomez, Larry Jocson and a handful of others, we set up the Trust Institute Foundation of the Philippines, once upon a time, when we were young and full of hope, precisely to act as training ground for those who will later on in their careers take positions of leadership in the trust industry.

 Today, many decades later, we are no longer young; some have left for another world, others for another line of work.  But, on seeing the TOAP board today, our hope remains. And, by the grace of God, no longer in expectation, but in fulfillment.