What are the requirements when a family wants to setup a family office in Jersey? Bedell Family Office's Ian Slack and Richard Joynt provide a guide to what they need.
When a high net worth family decide where to locate their family office, a number of factors will be relevant to them. These include the availability of suitably qualified staff, legal political and regulatory factors, tax matters and other more practical issues such as language and financial infrastructure. We have looked below at each of these factors in relation to Jersey:
In practice, recruiting and retaining the best professionals is one of the primary issues for family offices, and the nature of the family office may impact on the types of professional required.
There are 12,820 professionally trained staff working in the finance industry in Jersey (out of a total population of 98,000). Included in this are a large number of family office professionals and trust professionals who have experience in setting up and running complex structures and helping wealthy families manage their assets and lifestyle.
Any family office needs to be based in a jurisdiction with good communication links, and great infrastructure including banking facilities, accounting, tax, legal and other specialist professionals.
Jersey is in the same time zone as the UK so communication with and travel to the city of London is very easy. English is the main language in Jersey and sterling is the currency. Jersey has an exceptional financial infrastructure for its size with all major accountancy firms represented.
There are five first tier legal practices, and 34 international banks (all listed within the top global 500) with over £150 billion in banking deposits.
If the family office will also be managing the asset holding structures then it will be important to find a location that is tax efficient. Jersey benefits from tax neutrality with zero percent income tax on foreign owned companies (with exceptions for regulated and infrastructure businesses), no capital gains taxes, wealth taxes or inheritance/death taxes.
Legal and political system
Jersey has its own democratically elected government and decides on its own tax laws -this independence from the UK and political stability has been preserved via charter and convention since 1204. Furthermore, Jersey operates its own well respected judicial system based on common law principles so will be familiar to anyone familiar with UK law.
This stability will be particularly relevant if ownership structures are going to be based in the family office jurisdiction, and in certain cases this may drive the family office location to being outside the family's home jurisdiction. Jersey may also provide better privacy for such structures than the family's home jurisdiction.
Obviously tax laws and regulations continue to evolve, but Jersey is in a good position to preserve this stable political, legal and tax position, having demonstrated its ability to adopt to tax transparency and regulatory best practice in the past.
This transparency is now a fact of life and may lead to less well regulated jurisdictions ceasing to exist as financial centres in the future. Jersey has, however, always insisted there is a level playing field to ensure that its competitiveness is not affected.
Regulation and legal structures Jersey is a well regulated financial centre and is rated as one of the best international financial centres globally by the IMF. The regulation for investment business and trust and company business is well established and understood, and whilst single family offices do not generally need to be regulated, the regulation does provides a best practice framework management experience, Jersey is regularly used by wealthy families for asset protection, estate planning and family governance.
Jersey offers tax neutrality, political and legal stability and an array of ownership structures. This is combined with excellent infrastructure (English language, which wealthy families may want to opt into in order to give them greater comfort over the protection of their assets.
In addition, Jersey has a wide range of legal structures available to choose from for both the family office and asset owning structures including trusts, foundations, limited liability companies (including protected cell companies), and limited partnerships. Combined with 50 years of private wealth UK time zone and ease of access to London) and a well trained workforce who are highly experienced in wealth management.
It is therefore not surprising that there are a growing number of high net worth families setting up family offices in Jersey. This has been helped by an increasing number of international families spending time or even residing in London and using Jersey as a convenient jurisdiction for their asset ownership structures.
The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.