STEPPING UP - ISSUE 32 (31 July 2015)
Chairperson's Message

Dear Members,

A big thank you to all members for the strong turn-out for the recent Pre AGM talk - "What You Need to Know About CRS and its Impact for Your Clients?" and the AGM. I believe the CRS will have an impact on how we structure businesses for our clients. Therefore, we need to keep ourselves updated on any changes or new regulations on this matter. STEP Singapore will continue to monitor the progress of the implementation of the CRS and will organise more talks and updates for members.

As the new committee takes office for 2015/2016, lots of planning and organising are already underway. I hope to see more active participation from members, not just in attendance of the events that we will organise, but also in contributions to thoughts, ideas and volunteered time to assist the Singapore branch to provide a robust, active and forward thinking platform for its members in the area of education, engagement with regulators and relevant authorities and any other areas that the branch feels relevant to the trust and fiduciary industry. The team comprising of the STEP Singapore branch committee are as follows:

Chairperson :  Linda Wong
Vice Chairperson :  Annette Sui
Secretary :  Chee Fang Theng
Treasurer :  Cathryn Lau
Ordinary Member :  Lionel Choi
Ordinary Member :  Goh Seow Chee
Ordinary Member :  Ashley Ong

In addition, the following sub-committees have also been set up:

1. Editorial – Chair    : Chee Fang Theng
2. Technical – Chair  : Goh Seow Chee
3. Education/Events – Co-Chairs : Cathryn Lau/Lionel Choi
4. Membership – Chair : Annette Sui

The Chairs of the above sub-committees will be approaching members to join and participate in the sub-committees. So, I would be deeply appreciative if members would offer your kind assistance and share your expertise and knowledge with them. As STEP Worldwide disseminates more information to the branch, there may be possibilities of more sub-committees in the future, hence there will be plenty of opportunities for members’ participation, feedback and contribution to the Singapore branch.

The first upcoming event will be a joint talk by EDB and Baker & McKenzie on 14 August 2015. More information on this event has been circulated to all members. We are also in discussions with HMRC and Pinsent Masons on  joint presentation to members on 23rd September. Once confirmed, details will be sent to you.

Thank you.
Linda Wong
Chairperson, STEP Singapore Branch

Managing CRS and Other Cross-Border Client Risks
The OECD’s 'common reporting standard' (CRS) is likely to lead to a paradigm change in private banking. The automatic data exchange system introduced to the world under 'FATCA' in respect of US taxpayers is being extended to taxpayers in nearly 100 other countries, with all the major financial centres having committed to join, Singapore included. Not content with this alone, the UK government plans to criminalise non-UK companies who fail to prevent their employees or other ‘agents’ from facilitating UK tax evasion. Whilst there are doubts about how a country could enforce such an offence extra-territorially, it is an audacious attempt by the UK to flex the long arm of the its law. Will this approach catch-on with others?

Scrutiny of Offshore Markets

One of single biggest issues for tax authorities of modern times has been the ease with which its taxpayers can put assets outside the jurisdiction and not declare all taxes which are due. Historically, those authorities have tried to find the assets through random or risk-based investigations and, if a given taxpayer is suspected of non-compliance, single requests for information can be made to the jurisdiction where it is suspected that assets are held (provided the jurisdiction concerned has agreed to such on-request exchanges). [Read More]

Contributed by: Jason Collins, Pinsent Masons LLP
Financial Transparency: The New Normal
A US-inspired transparency revolution is driving change in the financial world. As more and more governments around the globe embrace the exchange of information on an automatic basis, Financial Institutions (FI) are required to hand over information about their customers, bringing down long-standing walls of banking secrecy. Singapore aims to implement the automatic exchange of information (AEOI) in 2017, provided key conditions are met. This includes the AEOI being adopted in all key financial centres in Europe and Asia to avoid regulatory arbitrage. Another condition for Singapore’s AEOI implementation is the existence of a robust framework of law to protect taxpayer confidentiality and ensure proper usage of information. There must also be reciprocity with any future AEOI partners in terms of information exchanged

With over 90 countries having committed to CRS implementation, FIs will need to leverage on their FATCA implementation experience, where possible, to meet relevant milestones and ensure they are CRS-ready on time. [Read More]

Contributed by: Desmond Teo and Mercy Joseph, Ernst & Young, Singapore
“Up Close & Personal” – Interview with Mr. Lionel Choi
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.
Lionel Choi
Designation & Role in Organisation: Private Client Director, RBC Trust Company Singapore
Years in Trust Industry: 11 years 

Getting to know Lionel

The book(s) I am currently reading is

Sergey Prokofiev's Diaries (Vols. 1 - 3). I have held a life-long passion for music, in particular piano and classical music, and since my teens, I have taken a special interest in the works of Prokofiev, one of the greatest composers of the 20th century. Diary-writing may be a lost art today, but back in the 1900s, it was not only commonly practised, but compulsively so in Prokofiev's case. It seems he wrote them for his own private satisfaction, and they are therefore honest and idiosyncratic, yet detailed, insightful and entertaining for they are written with exactly the same sort of zing and sharp wit that characterise much of his music. While they provide what is probably the most complete picture we possess today of any significant 20th-century composer, I will not pretend that this is all high-brow fare; it contains a good amount of gossip of the time! Prokofiev's often caustic opinions of his contemporaries, their music, their playing or their wives are candidly expressed, without the veil of any sort of political correctness! 

The person(s) who has been my biggest influence is

My parents and my elder sister, among many others. 

What I like most about my job/experiences in the trust industry is

Key client relationships. Getting to hear and understand clients' different needs, and being able to advise them appropriately and to find and piece together the right tools to arrive at a bespoke solution to each client's satisfaction. 

My golden rule is

It's more meaningful - and often more effective - to bring sincerity, integrity and value to a client relationship to deepen and enhance it over time, than to hawk a product or service in his face! 

The expression I loathe the most is

Too many to pick just one! My favourite at the moment is "cascading down". It's become corporate parlance for "disemminating information downwards", in which case why not just say that you are disemminating or passing on the information, rather than make it sound like a waterfall or that you are rolling down the stairs?

Recruitment Classifieds

Trust Administration Manager position available

The STEP Singapore website features a recruitment classifieds service for the trust industry.
Employers interested in placing job advertisements on our website may do so at only $400 per month. Details available HERE.

Upcoming Event
Living and Investing through the Family Office in Singapore (14th August 2015 ) 12.00 pm - 2.00 pm, IntelliOffices, Level 3, 146 Robinson Road, S(068909).

Although the Family Office is a relatively new development in Asia, Asian families are increasingly reviewing the Family Office structure to meet their wealth creation and succession needs. The Family Office may be structured as one which serves only a single family unit or offers its services to multiple families. This seminar will explore how Singapore based families offices can leverage on the tax and regulatory environment in Singapore maximise the efficiency of the family office operation.

Synopsis of Talk

  • The Singapore Economy
  • The Approach of the Economic Development Board of Singapore
  • Global Investor Programme – Family Office
  • Establishment of the SG Family Office – legal and regulatory aspects
  • Tax incentives scheme for the SG Family Office

Register early to secure your place by completing and faxing the Registration form to (65) 31287781 (no 6 prefix) or via e-mail, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., by 7 August 2015 !

Post-Event Updates
"What you need to know about CRS and its impact for your clients?” (30 June 2015, 3pm - 4.30pm, Intellioffices, Level 11, 146 Robinson Road, Singapore 068909)
“What you need to know about CRS and its impact for your clients?” by Mr Jason Collins, Head of Tax Group, Pinsent Masons LLP, Mr Desmond Teo, Partner, Financial Services Tax, International Tax Services, Ernst & Young Singapore, and Mr Jimmy Oei, Consultant and chaired by Ms Goh Seow Chee, Managing Director, J.P. Morgan Private Bank (Singapore). This pre-AGM talk comprising of a distinguished panel of leading lawyers, accountants and bankers gazed into the new era of transparency with the introduction of common reporting standards, how this would apply to trust and company service providers, repercussions for clients, and the practical lessons gleaned from other jurisdictions. The event was extremely well attended with over 70 delegates, and preceded the holding of STEP Singapore’s AGM.

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Contributed by: Chee Fang Theng , Pan Asia Law LLC
More needs to be done with your BVI share(s) (14 April 2015, 12pm - 2pm, Intellioffices, Level 3, 146 Robinson Road, Singapore 068909)
“More needs to be done with your BVI share(s)” by Mr Henno Boshoff, Senior Associate, Harneys, Singapore office and chaired by Ms Annette Sui, Managing Director and Head of Private Wealth Solutions, Southeast Asia, HSBC Private Bank. This lunchtime talk examined the thorny but common issue of what happens upon death for persons holding BVI company shares since the BVI has probate procedures, a fact which is not always known by clients. The options reviewed for ensuring orderly succession included making a BVI will, joint tenancy, reserve directorship, and establishing a BVI share trust. . 

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Contributed by: 
Chee Fang Theng , Pan Asia Law LLC


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