Since Collas Crill opened its Singapore office in August - the first Channel Islands law firm to do so - there has been a great deal of interest in the various wealth planning structures both Channel Islands have to offer.
While Singapore has its own statutory trust law, many Singapore residents seeking structure to their wealth consider it to be more constraining then enabling, and have therefore looked elsewhere.
The Channel Islands are attractive because they are perceived as safe. However it is fair to say the high level of regulation is sometimes seen as a downside because of the various processes which have to be gone through. This is because what is sought to be structured is new entrepreneurial wealth made by people who are used to making decisions quickly and being able to implement them without delay. Therefore a degree of education to realise that high regulation is a positive rather than a negative quality is important.
While there is interest in the trust offerings of both Channel Islands, Collas Crill's experience from its first three months in operation is that there is a definite appetite for Jersey Foundations, not least for holding family businesses for which trusts may not be entirely suitable because of duties to beneficiaries, and also because of concerns about the disclosure of information.
A Jersey Foundation must have at least one Jersey regulated trust company with an additional category of licence as a Council member, and thus most if not all of the administration will have to be carried on in Jersey. However, given the existence of a time zone overlap, which is not the case with Caribbean jurisdictions such as Cayman and BVI, this should not prove to be an impediment.
Those best placed to offer this service are service providers with offices in both jurisdictions, but it is also anticipated that alliances will be formed by Singapore based operates with Jersey trust companies in order to be able to provide Jersey Foundations as part of their offering into an increasing wealthy market place. There is no statutory restriction on Jersey Foundations being run in Singapore with the qualified member in Jersey but it must be remembered that Jersey must always be able to comply with all Tax Information Exchange Agreement obligations, so sufficient records must be kept in Jersey at all times.
It therefore seems likely that Jersey's decision to bring in Foundations will prove to be a wise one, and the presence of Collas Crill in Singapore should enhance their prospects in this rapidly growing market.
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