Lindsay Leggat Smith, Carey Group, Monaco, talks to Finance Monthly about the importance of traditional values in Estate Planning, and the complexities of asset management in Monaco.

Q. In an era of ever evolving technology, how important are traditional values when managing client wealth effectively?

Traditional values of proximity to the private client are essential. They do not fit easily into pigeonholes since each case is different. Clients want to be listened to and the ability to do this and to understand their concerns is just as important as the professional technical skills needed to solve their problems.

We strive to achieve the status of trusted family advisors and this is impossible without strong inter-personal skills. An ability to relate to our clients' home culture is also a plus. On this point, we are lucky tohave eight different nationalities and cultures represented in the office.

Q. Reputation is critical for clients assessing potential wealth advisory specialists. How has Carey Group built such a technically robust, friendly and cost effective reputation?

The Seniors in Monaco are mostly lawyers, and most of the staff is also STEP qualified. We have always tried to be highly responsive to enquiries from intermediaries and clients alike, and our reputation stems fromthis availability.

Q. Clients with multinational interests require experienced advice from professionals with local and regional knowledge across the globe. How does Carey Group cater for the multinational client?

Clients of the Monaco office definitely have multinational interests to be catered for. Our staff itself is multinational and multilingual and we can rely on a close network of professional colleagues worldwide, since it is very important to ensure that all the aspects of a client's affairs are looked at from every possible angle before advice or structuring is proposed.

Q. In an ever-changing world, what should individuals and businesses consider when managing their wealth?

Something that would probably not have occurred to me five years ago: risk. No wealth management solution will ever be perfect or permanent, but sensible planning should try to reduce the level of exposure to risk of all kinds. This includes building in sufficient flexibility to be able to move or restructure assets to take account of a changing environment.

Q. Financial planning, strategy and regulations are complex areas. Howdoes one approach estate planning?

Some planning is often already in place when we first meet a client. So a careful audit of this is required to see if it complies with current standards. If it's not broken we don't fix it, but such cases are rare.

From there, we proceed to examine the personal situation of each individual involved in the estate planning exercise with reference especially to family relationships, residence and domicile, marital regimes etc. The type and location of the assets is important and as mentioned above, the question of risk exposure at all levels is also addressed. After balancing all the factors, some form of protective legal structuring will probably be proposed.

Q. Monaco presents something of a unique legal and financial structure. How has your practice adapted to this?

Monaco is developing as a centre of excellence in many areas and, given the variety of nationalities of families based in Monaco and the frequent complexity of their affairs, wealth and inheritance planning for wealthy individuals is among the areas of local expertise.

We have quite a lot of experience in dealing with multi-jurisdictional family and asset related issues and are in fact often asked for advice on particularly complex areas by fellow professionals from outside the Principality.

Originally published by Finance Monthly.

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