Meeting new friends and old at the STEP LatAm Conference in Sao Paulo

Enrique Martinez Guzman (right) I passed a busy few days in Sao Paulo last week at the STEP LatAm Conference, where I was representing STEP, together with our Chair, Simon Morgan TEP. The regional committee meeting and first networking reception set the tone for meeting many of our professional members, and it was a great pleasure to meet so many new faces.

The conference agenda ranged from the thought leadership of basketball legend Rick Fox on engaging with the new high net worths, and author and journalist Carlos A Montaner on populism in the new world order, through to practical case-study break-out sessions.

Among the highlights was the presentation of our second annual STEP LatAm Thesis Writing Competition to Enrique Martinez Guzman (pictured above, right) for his entry under the topic, ‘Tax consequences of transferring domestic and foreign property to a foreign structure’. Enrique will surely be a name to watch in the years ahead.

I was delighted to join Dayra Berbey de Rojas TEP to present the STEP Founder’s Award to two treasured members of the STEP family, John Lawrence TEP of the Bahamas, and Rosa Restrepo TEP of Panama.

In a show of support for the Bahamas during its recovery from Hurricane Dorian, members of the STEP LatAm Conference Committee presented a donation for relief efforts to Bahamas Minister of Financial Services Elsworth Johnson, raised from speakers who had generously waived their fees.

The final gala dinner was the perfect end to the knowledge exchange and networking, and made me reflect what a fabulous event this is and how well it supports the aims and mission of STEP in the region. It is also one that goes from strength to strength as membership in the region grows.

Our thanks to co-Chairs Ana Claudia Utumi TEP and Norberto Martins TEP, our sponsors, and the whole organising committee. I hope to see many of you again in Argentina next year. Will there be even more than this year’s 430 delegates next time? I would not be surprised.

Mark Walley is CEO of STEP


Adapting to and embracing the ‘new normal’: opening the Bahamas to international firms

George HodgsonThis week I spoke at a lively conference, Engaging in a Transparent World, in Nassau. There were some thought provoking presentations on the theme of how an international financial centre such as the Bahamas could best adapt to the ‘new normal’ of automatic tax information exchange and greater clarity of beneficial ownership;  the emphasis being on contributions from practitioners covering both new market opportunities and compliance best practice.

Perhaps the most dramatic contribution, however, came from the Bahamas’ Minster of Financial Services, Ryan Pinder, who argued strongly that the country should now open up to the big international law firms. In Minister Pinder’s view, the international reach of such firms could add considerably to business flows through the Bahamas and assist it in breaking into new markets, to the benefit of allFlag_of_the_Bahamas, including existing local practitioners. Perhaps we will now see similar debates emerge in other jurisdictions which currently have market access restrictions for professional advisors.

George Hodgson is Deputy Chief Executive of STEP.