STEP hosted its annual Special Interest Group (SIG) Spotlight Sessions on 14 November in London, a day comprising six conference streams. SIGs provide opportunities for members to connect and advance their focused area of practice.
I attended the International Client SIG session, which focused on the needs of practitioners serving international clients with complex planning needs. The presentation was entitled ‘Moving Out, Moving In and Moving On: Key Movements for International Clients’. STEP members John Riches, William Ahern and Dr Angelo Venardos spoke on the topical issues surrounding CRS, transparency and public registers.
The Common Reporting Standard (CRS) continues to cause confusion in some key areas, and STEP is seeking clarification on a number of points surrounding settlors, beneficiaries, protectors, what constitutes a trust, controlling persons that are entities, charitable trusts and private trust companies. William Ahern and Dr Angelo Venardos discussed how CRS is being applied in Hong Kong and Singapore, and they touched upon the inconsistencies in the legislation compared to the UK, for example, anti-avoidance legislation, which is not as comprehensive as the UK’s.
Automatic exchange of tax information on a wide basis will unleash a deluge of confidential and highly sensitive personal financial information for transmission around the world. Differing jurisdictions may have differing issues to consider under these circumstances. Some jurisdictions may also need to consider if their data-protection laws are consistent with the commitments they have made with respect to CRS implementation. Conversely others may have to consider if the confidentiality obligations contained in their trust and banking laws are consistent with their CRS commitments.
The emergence of many corporate and non-corporate trust registers across the globe has caused privacy and compliancy concerns among most practitioners, although the recent non-constitutional ruling of the French trust register may have an influential outcome across Europe in that respect. We continue to wait and assess the new challenges as they arise in this upcoming new era of transparency.
However, the consistent theme across most jurisdictions is the urgent need to consider which jurisdictions are fit and proper to be granted access to an individual’s financial details.
About STEP’s Special Interest Groups
STEP’s SIGs focus on some of the more complex issues families face in planning for their future, including international families, protection of vulnerable people, family businesses and philanthropic giving.
The groups aim to benefit the practitioner, their area of specialisation, the clients they serve, and the industry at large. They are also open to professionals who are not STEP members.
The SIGs are:
• Business Families
• Contentious Trust and Estates
• Cross-Border Estates
• International Client
• Mental Capacity
• Philanthropy Advisors
Please see this page for more details: www.step.org/sigs