International Financial Centres have a proven track record when it comes to successful wealth transferPublished on 03 Sep 2020
Two minutes with Philippe de Salis, Head of Fiduciary, Switzerland
Philippe joined the Group in 2007 and is Head of our Fiduciary Division in Neuchâtel and the Group’s Fiduciary services in Switzerland. He is also Chairman of the Swiss Association of Trust Companies (SATC).
Stay close to your clients during times of crisis. The recent lockdowns have meant that we have been in even more regular contact with our clients. The Covid-19 pandemic has prompted families to reflect on their succession planning. We continue to do what we’ve always done: use our ‘practical wisdom’, the shared experience we have acquired from one family to help another.
Covid-19 has intensified cross border challenges in the short term. Due to the travel restrictions we have seen individuals at risk of unwittingly becoming tax residents in jurisdictions or family members requiring repatriation. As advisers, we have to be completely on our game, proactively answering client needs in a rapidly changing environment. All this is against a backdrop of increasing scrutiny from all quarters including from regulators making navigating cross border issues an ongoing challenge.
Financial centres have a proven record in successful wealth transfer. Most wealthy families use them as a safe hub offering them a degree of flexibility. That’s not to say beneficiaries, settlors or individuals won’t pay taxes where they are resident, but it allows people to arrange their affairs without triggering tax consequences or being restricted by local statutory rules.
In the case of Switzerland, as well as being one of the leading, most competitive global financial centres it offers safety, great education and healthcare systems, political stability and a favourable tax environment. The fact that the natural environment is outstandingly beautiful is just a bonus.
An additional layer of regulation comes into force in Switzerland this year. It introduces a comprehensive business regulation for trustees - in addition to the existing AML-ATF rules - and will change the landscape of trustees operating in Switzerland, increasing quality and further enhancing our reputation. There is also a project to bring in a new substantive trust law. If that comes through it will be another arrow in the quiver for Swiss trustees. Global jurisdictions are innovating but it’s the established IFCs leading the charge. Switzerland has a very important role to play.