60-second interview with Adam Steen

Adam Steen, 2/9/2019

Adam Steen TEP is Professor of Practice in Estate Planning at Deakin University, Australia.

What does your organisation do?

Deakin University is one of Australia’s largest universities, with over 50,000 students and five campuses located in the state of Victoria.

What has STEP done for you, individually, or as a business?

Coming from a traditional academic background in accounting and corporate finance, STEP has enabled me to apply my existing skills and broaden my knowledge.

What is the most important thing STEP does, in your opinion?

For me, the most important thing STEP provides is thought leadership in an important part of the financial services sector.

What do you most like about your job?

From a teaching perspective, I interact with young students and professional financial advisors, and both groups always challenge me to improve my knowledge and understanding. From a research perspective, I am engaging in cutting edge research, which has major implications for society.

.. and what do you feel is most worthwhile?

I feel that my teaching and research is very worthwhile, as both offer the opportunity to shape future practice and policy.

You are convening the STEP Academic Community Symposium in Singapore this November. Would you tell us about it?

The Academic Community always holds its annual research symposium the day after the STEP Asia Conference. It started as a meeting for those attending STEP Asia to come together and talk about the latest research in areas related to estates and trusts.

Now in our fifth year, we encourage STEP members to attend, or present papers. The conference is an inexpensive and enjoyable professional development opportunity, enabling attendees to network with a range of professionals from diverse backgrounds, and hear some very interesting presentations.

Tell us about the research projects that the Academic Community is currently engaged in?

The STEP Academic Community is working on several themes. Firstly the impact of digital technology poses significant challenges for estate administration, especially security. Secondly, we are also looking at the issue of capacity, and specifically, how practitioners identify whether clients have impaired capacity, and what they should do if so. A third theme involves undertaking surveys of several STEP jurisdictions to ascertain what ordinary people understand about estates, trusts, powers of attorney and so on, and how prepared they are for disability and death.

Why are these research projects important?

Technology is evolving so fast that people are struggling to keep up, and understand its implications with respect to security and estates. Add to this an ageing demographic in the developed world, and you have some serious issues.

What would you say to a young person thinking of a career in this industry?

I think this is the most exciting and interesting time for those involved in estates and trusts given the ageing population and transition in wealth internationally between generations. The advent of new technology poses great threats, but also great opportunities for professionals as well.

Where do you see as the emerging themes for researchers interested in the global private wealth sphere?

I think the relevant one for the STEP community is the future of trusts. There are several challenges to the status quo and traditional use of trusts.

What do you feel are the main challenges facing practitioners at the moment, and how will you deal with them?

I would say keeping up with the pace of change in society and technology, as well as the current unstable geopolitical climate.

Which social media channels do you use and why?

I’m not big on social media, principally due to heavy work commitments, but I do use LinkedIn, and find it a useful way to stay in touch with members in my professional network.