An increasing number of Channel Island financial services
businesses are expanding into South East Asia, with many firms
opening offices in Singapore, Hong Kong and China. They are
starting to reap the benefits as the profile of the Channel Islands
grows in South East Asia. Having a presence in Asia means that
firms are better able to understand the culture and therefore
tailor their products and advice to suit the Asian market. Further,
it shows the clients in Asia that Channel Island businesses are
committed to working with Asian clients and that the businesses can
provide services and advice in the same time zone.
In addition to initiatives from local businesses, both the
Jersey and Guernsey governments, as well as organisations such as
Jersey Finance, Locate Jersey and Guernsey Finance, have been
active in promoting the Channel Islands in Hong Kong and China in
Their efforts have had a positive impact on the profile of the
Channel Islands and have increased the confidence of Asian clients
in Channel Island businesses and services. This is a trend that
Globalaw - a leading network of mid-sized full service law firms in
111 jurisdictions - has seen develop in recent years. For this
reason, the network places particular importance in having
excellent member firms in jurisdictions where traditionally tax and
financial planning have played a big role.
Asian clients are no strangers to using international finance
centres for their business operations and for traditional wealth
planning. Historically there has been, and there still is, a bias
towards using structures founded on British Virgin Islands law and
Cayman Islands law, notably in the corporate and fund sectors.
However, for Asian clients who have generated significant wealth
during their lifetimes the focus moves from wealth generation to
wealth preservation and dynastic planning for future
generations. Such clients are looking for safe and reputable
jurisdictions that have along-standing history of private wealth
management. Both Jersey and Guernsey stand in good stead to assist
high net worth Asian families with such matters given their wealth
of experience in assisting high net worth families from the United
Kingdom and Europe with their wealth planning needs and
requirements for over 50 years. Further, the firms from both
islands have long-standing experience in assisting high net worth
clients from other emerging markets such as the Middle East and
more recently Russia and the CIS with their personal wealth
planning matters. The skills and sensitivities acquired from
assisting high net worth clients from jurisdictions who are not
familiar with trusts and who do not speak English cannot he
In order to improve the quality of the service to Asian clients,
a number of Channel Island firms have opened offices in Asia as
noted above and employed Mandarin speakers.
The Channel Islands have a wide range of structuring options to
facilitate effective wealth planning, including trusts,
foundations, private trust companies and limited partnerships.
Indeed both Jersey and Guernsey are continuing to keep abreast of,
and ahead of, their international finance centre competitors. For
example, both islands introduced their foundations laws so that
they can offer an alternative product to trusts readily
recognisable to clients from civil law jurisdictions and to clients
who are unfamiliar with the concept of a trust. There are new more
than 200 incorporated foundations in Jersey. In addition, the
ability to use settlor reserved powers is expressly recognised in
the trusts legislation of both islands.
Settlor reserved powers are popular with Asian clients who often
want to retain control aver key aspects of the trust, such as
The islands have long-established political stability and
robust, yet flexible legal systems, which allow the islands to
develop their laws in a timely fashion to counter potential threats
from other jurisdictions. For example, Jersey recently amended the
trusts law to introduce a statutory rule to preserve the rule in
This statutory rule gives Jersey a competitive edge over other
international finance centres, which are heavily influenced by
decisions of the English courts on trusts.
The Jersey approach puts the interests of beneficiaries first
Published in: Business Brief - December 2013
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guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought
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