STEPPING UP - ISSUE 24 (28 February 2014)
Chairperson's Message

Dear Members, 

I trust you are galloping well into the Year of the Wood Horse with high spirit. This year promises to be a year of prosperity and good luck. 

We started 2014 with a lunch talk on automatic exchange of information, a new frontier to exchange of information.  Automatic exchange of information was initiated by the G20 to facilitate international tax co-operation and level the playing field. This month, OECD published its brief on global standards to automatic exchange of information. It is modelled closely on the US FATCA agreement but it is not citizenship-centric.  As advisors, we need to stay ahead of the game. We need to educate our clients on the new rules to the game. 

The Business Families Special Interest Group ("SIG") subcommittee was formed last September. This subcommittee has made progress in discussing and sharing knowledge on subject matters around business families. This subcommittee will be presenting a seminar series surrounding governance issues of families, challenges and pitfalls of structures and so on. There will be two lunch seminars in the coming months, stay tuned to this space.

In May, we will be organising a one-day symposium with the SMU (Singapore Management University). At this symposium, we will be examining issues that are pertinent to the Singapore environment. We will be covering topics on law and practice, mental capacity and using case studies to dissect legal and fiduciary issues. We will be sending out the flyer very soon.

With the world changing quickly, we strive to bring to you relevant talks by tapping into the resources in the STEP global network. We will be very happy to receive your suggestions as well if you feel there is any area of interest that we have not covered. We look forward to hearing from you.

Goh Seow Chee
Chairperson, STEP Singapore Branch

The STEP Asia Conference was held in Singapore at the Marina Bay Sands on 13 and 14 November 2013.  This conference was extremely successful and was attended by 430 delegates worldwide, which is the largest turnout in history.  It has deservedly acquired the reputation for the coverage of cutting edge specialist topics in tax and trusts by leading experts, which also doubles up as the best networking opportunity of the year.

The chairperson of STEP Singapore, Goh Seow Chee, together with Mark Smallwood, chaired this two-day conference which featured keynote addresses by Supreme Court Judge Justice Quentin Loh, and  Ho Kwon Ping, executive chairman of the Banyan Tree Holdings, a business group which owns listed and private companies engaged in the development, ownership and operation of hotels and resorts.  A comment from Mr Ho drew a collective sigh of admiration from the ladies in the audience.  When discreetly asked by his adviser as to whether he might have a second family, he confessed that he was not ashamed to admit that he was a Darwinian failure.

Quote from Justice Quentin Loh, Supreme Court Judge, during his keynote address: “For those sceptics who come from jurisdictions with long or longer legal histories, they should not think that Singapore law only started from February 1819. Soon after its founding in 1819, through the Second Charter of Justice of 27 November 1826, the whole corpus of English Common Law and statutes of general application as it existed on 26 November 1826 in England became part of the law of Singapore (and the Straits Settlements, of which Singapore was a part), unless they were unsuitable to local conditions and could not be modified to avoid causing injustice or oppression.

The STEP Asia Conference is an annual event which alternates between the two Asian wealth management centres of Singapore and Hong Kong.  The next STEP Asia conference is scheduled to be held in Hong Kong in November 2014.

Contributed By: Chee Fang Theng - Pan Asia Wikborg Rein LLC 

“Up Close & Personal” – Interview with Mrs. Wendy Wong
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.

Wendy Wong (Mrs)
Designation & Role in Organisation: •Wong Alliance LLP (a law practice registered in Singapore), Senior Partner
•Wong Alliance Law (a law practice registered in Timor-Leste), Director
•Dacheng Wong Alliance LLP (a Singapore–China Joint Venture law practice registered in Singapore), Principal
Years in Trust Industry: After admission as an Advocate and Solicitor of the Supreme Court of Singapore in 1979, I worked as a legal officer in Banque Nationale de Paris which had a ‘nominees’ department.  I started looking into legal issues involving trust from 1979 and have continued doing so till now.

Getting to know Wendy Wong

The book I am currently reading is ... At any one time, I could have several books I would be reading lying around the house.  Some friends decided last year that they needed to give me some “colour mixer” to tone down the colours in my life.  So, on my birthday last July, I received a trilogy set of Fifty Shades of Grey as a present.  Having read some reviews on the books, I was not too excited to tear off the plastic wrappers to begin reading.  The books were left on the shelf till December 2013 when my niece visited and started reading the books before me.  I am now finishing the third volume.  It has taken me a while to read them because I would fall asleep after a few pages.  The sensationalistic nature of the writing (as commented by some reviewers) did not keep me arrested and awake.  I am wondering whether it was due to the bad writing or my advanced age (blush! blush!).  However, by now, I do have a view of the message which author E.L. James could be trying to send. It would be fodder for discussion on another forum.

In the recent years, I have been pursuing the topic of ‘end of the world’ scenario.  Besides the signs of the imminent ending of the world as written in the Bible, I am reading up on why the world is falling apart.  At the moment, I am reading Every Nation For Itself by Ian Brenner. Last week, I bought a new book Lean In  by Sheryl Sandberg, Chief Operating Officer of Facebook.  I should start reading it when I am on the airplane next week.

I have also been reading a cookbook Mummy, it’s Yummy! by local authors Lena Tan and Cindy Liu.  This is to equip me to prepare food for my six-month old granddaughter who is weaning off breast milk.

The person(s) who have been my biggest influence is ... It would be my former boss, a lawyer, who gave me a job in his law office when I was just an eighteen-year old junior college graduate, and who allowed me to continue working in his office part-time while I read law full-time at the  Singapore University.  I am eternally grateful to him because the salary from the job enabled me to complete my studies and qualify as a lawyer.  From him, I learnt the practical skills of ‘lawyering’ and gained confidence that I could attend to clients on any area of law as long as I was disciplined enough to go back to basics in the analysis of the issue on hand. It was this person’s influence which gave me the courage to start, at the age of thirty, my own law practice, which I am still running today.

What I like most about my job/experiences in the trust industry is ... In law school, I considered trust law as a dry and boring subject.  What I like about my job/experiences in the trust industry is that they have changed the boring theories into a fascinating practice.  I can now see the application of the concepts and principles of trust in solutions, relevant to matters ranging from corporate and commercial to family and personal.

My golden rule is ... Let not my actions be out of harmony with my desires.

The business expression I hate most is ... The dictionary defines ‘loathe’ as ‘disgust or intensive aversion for’.  I am unable to identify an expression which gives rise to such strong negative feeling in me.  Perhaps it is because I have mellowed by reason of age.  I like the advertisement on television:  ‘Choose to hear only the good things’.

Upcoming Events
Investment Risk Management - A Trustee's Perspective (18 March 2014, 12.00-2.00pm, FTSE Room, Level 9, Capital Tower)
Based on extensive expert witness cases, this seminar will focus on the main areas where Trustee investment claims have arisen in recent years. Each case study will address the highest areas of Trustee Investment Risk with specific emphasis on the challenges of:- 
  1. Inaccurate Risk Profiling
  2. Performance Monitoring
  3. Investment Manager Selection
  4. Fee Arrangements
  5. Policies and Procedures
  6. Execution, Advisory, Discretionary Relationships
Having identified the main risks, the probability of claims and the likely quantum, a range of practical solutions will be provided leaving the Trustee better protected for the future. 

This seminar will also deal with issues such as: 
  1. Settlor directed trusts
  2. Dilemma of Trustee facing settlor vs beneficiaries when the settlor reserves investment powers
  3. Running through portfolio allocation theory with directed trust settlors in the case of Asian clients preferring more advisory type of investments.
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 11 March 2014 !
Post-Event Updates
Post Event Update: New Frontiers of Automatic Exchange of Information and Anti-Money Laundering Rules (10 January 2014, 12.00-2.00pm, STI Auditorium, Level 9, Capital Tower)
Jason Collins from Pinsent Masons kicked off the talk with a background on the evolution of automatic exchange of information. He then shared the experience from UK HMRC when the HMRC responds to requests for information from a requesting country. There is a tribunal process in the UK and the taxpayer and bank are put on notice of such request for information from a requesting country.
S Sharma from ATMD Bird & Bird presented the Singapore side of exchange of information. While Singapore will act on the principle of reciprocity, the reality could be, just as the UK HRMC, that Singapore receives more requests than it makes.
The speakers touched on whether the information request is on “spontaneous” or “on request” basis, with the burden placed on financial institutions and fiduciaries to maintain vigilance and rigorous anti-money laundering enforcement.

Contributed By: Goh Seow Chee - JP Morgan Chase Bank, N.A.

Post Event Update: An "East-Meets-West" Chinese New Year "Lo Hei" Lunch (10 February 2014, 12.15-2.00pm, Chef D' Table)
For those celebrating Chinese New Year, the Year of the Wooden Horse 2014 is expected to bring good fortune and prosperity. For others, it is a time to get together with friends and associates to have a good time.
STEP Singapore organised a luncheon on 10 February 2014 as part of the festive celebration, where members and friends gathered to “Lo Hei” to the new lunar year. A group of 33 gathered in a small and cosy Chef d’Table Restaurant located at Chijmes, which served a sumptuous “Yusheng” and an excellent 3 course lunch.

“Yusheng” is a raw fish salad which symbolises abundance, prosperity and vigour. “Lo Hei” means toss high. With all the auspicious meaning and well wishes, the members and friends had a great time tossing the salad as high as possible. STEP member, Mrs Wendy Wong gave very helpful instructions for the tossing, which made the event even more joyous.

Members were able to network in a relaxed atmosphere and STEP Singapore even managed to gain the interest of potential new members.

STEP Singapore takes this opportunity to wish all members great health and a prosperous year 2014.

Contributed By: Linda Wong - Kensington Corporate Management (S) Pte Ltd

Events Calendar

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