STEPPING UP - ISSUE 26 (30 Jun 2014)
COMMITTEE NEWS:
Outgoing Chairperson's Message

Dear Members,

The three years as Chair passed very quickly! When I first took up the challenge, I was asked if I was “serious” and if I had the time. I recalled stating that STEP Singapore Branch needs Singaporean representation and as for time, I have lunch time to spare.

As I look back at the past three years, three things came to my mind. Firstly, the great network and resource STEP has as a global organization. The Branch could access to subject matters expert from the region and from afar to bring interesting topics to our seminars and bi-annual conference. In the midst of learning, Members networking is also important to bring the Branch to life. The STEP Asia Conference 2013 was memorable as it was the first time the topics shifted to Asian region topics. It was well attended and received positive feedback.

Secondly, the importance of STEP Singapore to stay connected with regulators here. The regulatory environment is changing rapidly. As professionals in the trust industry, I feel that STEP Singapore has a role to play to be the voice to represent Members to provide feedback on issues that would affect their professional life. Members who are from trust companies, law firms, accountants and assets management firms, have their perspectives on issues and need to be represented.

Thirdly, I learnt that things could be made simple if we apply ourselves accordingly. Here, I am talking about the folks in the Committee whom I have the privilege of working along during my tenure. It was great to have their candor at Committee meetings.  It helped to make meetings efficient so that we could have a proper lunch and could complete the meetings in good time to return to our day jobs. The generosity of the Committee members’ time and effort made my lunch time job rewarding and I dare say, fun.

In summary, it has been a great privilege and pleasure to serve as Chair to STEP Singapore. It was a journey for me to learn professionally and personally and make new acquaintances and friends in the process.

Passing the baton to Chiwi and wishing him well for his term of office and that he enjoys his journey.
 

Goh Seow Chee
Past Chairperson 

Incoming Chairperson's Message

Dear Members,

May I first thank those Members for making time to attend our AGM last week.  I’m conscious of the duties and tasks ahead as the incoming chair of the Singapore branch. At the same time there is also much enthusiasm as I look ahead to the coming year.
 
 I must first thank Seow Chee for her service as Chairman over the last three years. It’s been a pleasure to support Seow Chee in the committee. With her continuing in the role as vice chair, many of the initiatives and good works will remain. I should also like to acknowledge other predecessor chairpersons, namely Bill Lexmond and Angelo Venardos whom I had the privilege of working under previously in the earlier years.
 
Looking ahead to my own year of Office as Chairman, I hope to engage with fellow members and see how they could contribute and participate in various initiatives. There are sub-committees like the editorial sub-committee and opportunities to assist in organizing committees for our conferences e.g. the prestigious Asia-Pacific STEP conference which will be held in 2015. This particular conference attracts a world-wide audience and we want to continue to build on its success to put Singapore on the map.  
I hope to steer the STEP Singapore Branch and our members as the industry experts in trusts, fiduciary and estate planning services. To be recognized as such, we need to inculcate relationships with other professionals from the legal, tax, accounting, banking, investment and financial industries. Accordingly, I hope to roll out high quality STEP seminars and workshops that are of interest and relevance to members and to such professionals.
 
Our industry continues to face increasing standards of compliance and other regulatory changes. Hence, we need to raise awareness of best practices in many new unchartered areas and we will  work to make STEP Singapore branch remain a point of contact for dialogue and a communication channel to regulators and other agencies.
 
Finally, I would like to thank, in advance the several committee members who have “stepped” forward to serve with me on this committee. From all of us, we look forward to all members’ support in our forthcoming activities and events.
 

Lee Chiwi
Chairperson, STEP Singapore Branch
 

2014-2015 Committee

We are pleased to announce STEP Committee 2014-2015 as confirmed at the AGM on 26 June 2014:

Chairman – Lee Chiwi
Vice Chairman – Goh Seow Chee
Treasurer – Linda Wong
Secretary – Sundareswara Sharma
Committee Member – Chee Fang Theng
Committee Member – Annette Sui
Committee Member – Lau Sook Ching
 

INDUSTRY NEWS & UPDATES:
Update to Members
Dear fellow STEP members,

Over the past 3.5 years as your S.E. Asia representative on STEP Worldwide Council, no other public policy issue has become so important to us as advisors, as the current matter of the UK proposal for a public register of beneficial ownership of corporate entities and to which the EU is seeking to include trusts.

The following is a chronological description of events and STEP’s involvement, in this highly critical to Asia matter, of what is in the public interest of privacy (not secrecy) and what can be publically disclosed.

Please contact me directly for further discussion or feedback on this matter. On another note, the following recently published book is a must read for anyone interested in the future direction of our industry.

“Global Shell Games – Experiments in Transnational Relations, Crime and Terrorism” by Michael G. Findley, Daniel I. Nielson & J. C. Sharman - Cambridge Studies 2014.

[View Report]

Contributed by Angelo Venardos, Council Member Representative for South East Asia, STEP Worldwide
 
FATCA - Alternative Procedures for Accounts Opened On or After 1 July 2014
Pending the conclusion of the US-Singapore IGA, Singaporean Financial Institutions may apply a set of alternative due diligence procedures on certain New Individual Accounts and New Entity Accounts, as set out in Section VI(G) to (H) of Annex I to Model 1 IGA template. The details are stated in the MAS circular enclosed. 
 
Intention is Everything

S Sharma examines the Singapore Court of Appeal’s approach to tax avoidance in a case of corporate restructuring with a financing arrangement

In Comptroller of Income Tax v AQQ and another appeal,1 the Court of Appeal in Singapore decided on the scope and application of the general anti-avoidance rules (GAAR) in s33 Income Tax Act (ITA), in its first decision on these provisions since they were amended more than 25 years ago.2 The amendments gave the Comptroller of Income Tax (CIT) powers to reconstruct a business transaction it disregards for tax purposes, and to impose tax.3 The court found there was tax avoidance, but dismissed three of the four assessments issued by CIT to recover additional taxes imposed on AQQ for years of assessment (YAs) 2004 to 2007. 

[READ MORE]

Contributed by: S. Sharma - ATMD Bird & Bird

“Up Close & Personal” – Interview with Ms. Cathryn Lau
This section offers members an opportunity to become better acquainted with a STEP member affiliated with the Singapore Branch. Any member interested in being interviewed should contact the STEP (Singapore) Secretariat.
 
Name:
Cathryn Lau
Designation & Role in Organisation: UBS, Wealth Planning
Years in Trust Industry: 2014 is the 10th year

Getting to know Cathryn Lau

The book I am currently reading is ... Confucius from the heart. It provides an insight into ancient wisdom and how these can be applied in the modern world. Many of the struggles and issues that we faced today can be dealt with, simply. It's all in the state of the mind.

The person(s) who have been my biggest influence is ... If there is that someone, I am still waiting for him/her to appear. I will add I count on my blessings to have met some individuals in the course of my work who until today, continue to give me words of wisdom when I needed it.

What I like most about my job/experiences in the trust industry is ... The ability to make a difference in people's life. Very recently, a family whom I helped established a succession structure experienced the departure of a close family member. When I met with the beneficiaries subsequently, they each gave me a hug and uttered "Thank you". We didn't speak much and the unspoken spoke. That was very gratifying for me. 

My golden rule is ... Embrace duality and appreciate relativity. There is always an opposite and everything is marked against relativity. e.g. The opposite of good is bad and you can only infer a good because you have a comparative bad.

The business expression I hate most is ... nil

 
UPDATES & DEVELOPMENTS:
Post-Event Updates
Post Event Update: STEP-SMU Symposium on “Recent Issues in Private Wealth and Trust Law” (26 May 2014, 9.15am-4.30pm, SMU Admin Building, Level 5)
STEP Singapore and Singapore Management University (SMU) successfully organised its first symposium covering recent issues in private wealth and trust laws on 26 May 2014. There were a total 95 delegates who attended the symposium, excluding the speakers. Slightly more than half of the attendees were from the legal industry, whilst the rest came from financial institutions.

The first half of the day, the delegates heard from the legal practitioners on issues that Trustees face in relation to investments and on the various areas of the law that had been applied to cases brought to the Singapore courts. Delegates also enjoyed a session by two academics from SMU, who analysed the recent decisions made by the Singapore courts on several cases relating to equity and trust.

This was followed by a lively discussion on the topic of mental capacity,  between a UK law practitioner and a Singapore trustee, highlighting the similarities and differences of laws on this topic between  Singapore and the UK.

After lunch, delegates were treated to two interesting panel discussions. The first was on Asian Business Families. The discussion focussed on challenges that face the families from the west as compared to those from the east, especially in the area of managing succession challenges from one generation to the next. The speakers also suggested different approaches and tools that are used to handle the challenges.

The second discussion panel explored case studies on cross border business and cross border families. As businesses and families become more global, issues on taxes become prominent. The speakers shared their experiences in handling several of their clients’ cases and the solutions that the clients’ eventually agreed to adopt.

Overall, the event was a well-attended symposium where delegates managed to network as well as learn more on issues relating to private wealth and trust laws.

Contributed by: Linda Wong - Kensington Trust Group
 

 

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