More than 140 high net worth individuals (HNWIs) and advisers attended a Guernsey private wealth management event in Shanghai earlier this month.

Guernsey Finance - the promotional agency for the Island's finance industry - hosted the event in conjunction with the Shanghai Municipal Financial Services Office. Welcome speeches were given by Kevin Stewart, Guernsey's Commerce and Employment Minister and LI Jun, Deputy Director of the Shanghai Municipal Financial Services Office.

Mr LI told the audience that Guernsey was renowned for having a diverse finance industry with particular expertise in investment funds, insurance, banking and private wealth management. He was looking forward to continuing the mutual promotion of financial services and said that this event provided the opportunity to strengthen the working relationship between Guernsey and Shanghai.

The Minister said: "Guernsey was, in 2007, the first international financial services centre to establish a representative office in Shanghai. Since then, we have developed a strong partnership with the Shanghai Municipal Financial Services Office, including signing a Memorandum of Understanding in 2010. It was a great pleasure to have their support at this event and to have such a warm welcome from Mr LI, which shows that the relationship is not just being maintained but will continue to flourish in the future."

The event, 'Partnership advantage - Guernsey wealth management services explained', was chaired by Wendy Weng, Guernsey Finance's representative in Shanghai, and included a panel session featuring Fiona Le Poidevin, Chief Executive of Guernsey Finance; WANG Hao, Senior Partner at RayYin and Partners; Mark Huntley, Director of Heritage Group; and Alan Chick, Chairman of Richmond Fiduciary Group.

Following an overview of Guernsey's credentials as an international finance centre from Miss Le Poidevin, Ms WANG told the audience that Guernsey trust law has some advantages over competitor jurisdictions for the financial planning needs of wealthy Chinese families. Mr Huntley spoke about how wealthy Chinese families could benefit from using a Guernsey structure to raise capital to grow their business, expand internationally or exit the business by listing on an international stock exchange.

Mr Chick shared some of his experiences of working in the Chinese market since 2009 and highlighted the particular structures which are of interest to Chinese private banks, trust companies and their clients.

He said: "The audience was very keen to learn more about Guernsey's response to some key international developments, such as FATCA [the US' Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act]. I think they were pleasantly surprised to find that Guernsey already has an agreement with the US Government and Guernsey's consistently high standards mean that we are well prepared to implement the reporting, where applicable. We believe that Guernsey is well positioned and that these international developments present opportunities for the Island's private wealth management firms to differentiate themselves."

There was representation at the event not just from Heritage and Richmond but also other firms with a Guernsey presence such as Kleinwort Benson, Louvre Group, Mourant Ozannes, Appleby, Ogier and Sovereign.

Miss Le Poidevin said: "Since establishing the Shanghai office in 2007 we have made huge strides in promoting the Guernsey brand and raising awareness of the financial services we can offer Chinese high net worth individuals. At the same time, the Chinese private wealth management market has been rapidly developing so that there has been increased interest in the trust and corporate solutions provided by well regulated and service-orientated international financial centres such as Guernsey.

"We saw the culmination of those two trends, with a particularly strong turnout of high quality delegates. These were high net worth individuals or their key advisers such as lawyers, accountants, trust companies and also private banks. What was also noticeable was that some had travelled from further afield than Shanghai to attend the event, we had guests from Beijing and Hong Kong for example. It has also been fantastic to have such strong support from Guernsey businesses who have committed resources to this initiative and are continuing to seek out opportunities in the Chinese wealth management arena."

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