STEPPING UP - ISSUE 22 (31 October 2013)
Chairperson's Message

Dear Members, 

The past couple of months have been particularly busy for the Branch. We were involved with regulatory issues, educational and networking events.
We were engaged with our response to the public consultation on the amendment to Income Tax Act on exchange of information. Following on, we attended a briefing session hosted by MAS. It was a useful meeting to understand the policy intent in this changing regulatory environment that we operate. You would recall we submitted comments last December on our views with regards to the “accredited investor” definition under section 4A of the Securities and Futures Act (Cap 289). In due course, there will be a public consultation paper on this issue. We look forward to your comments and will consolidate our collective response to the relevant authority.
We launched our Business Families Special Interest Group sub-committee (aka Business Families SIG) in September. At the moment, the sub-committee comprises of seven members. This sub-committee will be discussing topics and issues surrounding business succession. In due course, the sub-committee will share their findings and roll out a seminar series on the subject matter.
The STEP Asia Conference is drawing very close. This year’s conference has an Asian focus covering challenges of succession issues for families residing in this region. The conference will also discuss current hot topics such as exchange of information and thinking ahead, how would automatic exchange of information impact the operating environment for families and their advisors.  Look forward to seeing you at the conference.

Goh Seow Chee
Chairperson, STEP Singapore Branch

STEP Members Consultation 2021
On 18th September STEP Worldwide Council debated the shape of STEP to come; scoping issues, challenges and opportunities that would shape the future plan for STEP and for serving every member and the practices and businesses you work in. David Harvey, Chief Executive of STEP outlines some of the issues considered:
  • value for money for members – whatever the nature of your practice whether onshore, offshore, trust or estate focused, common or civil law;
  • building members’ careers – particularly through stronger relationships with employers, whilst preserving the primacy of members as the owners of STEP;
  • building professional excellence through every part of STEP, with cradle to grave education for everyone, using every modern and traditional means that members themselves want and using modern technology to strengthen the resources available to every member;
  • development in depth – making sure that all members receive a full STEP offer; which might lead to deeper existing STEP jurisdictions rather than more jurisdictions; this might for instance lead to a focus on building strong offers in the civil law and the US; as well as backfilling educational and professional  needs in the oldest STEP jurisdictions, before becoming more global;
  • continuing to be an effective voice for trust and estate practitioners in public  policy and thought leadership internationally and with national governments – but recognising global attitudes have changed and that STEP has to embrace this change  in public debate;
  • quality of membership not mass membership, but open access to the TEP gold standard for anyone who can climb the examination ladder;
  • regulatory dilemma – neither STEP members nor leaders want STEP to be a regulator, but sometimes it’s a case of better STEP than someone else and it is essential to protect the right of STEP to be the educator of choice; this may go with regulatory responsibilities in some jurisdictions;
  • ensuring that STEP remains attractive and becomes more attractive to volunteer participation in whatever way modern volunteers want to work;
  • finding ways to promote the STEP brand –  that could mean many things – on the high street or in the press, but recognising the brand might change somewhat for some markets;
  • last but not least, recognising the new needs and ways of working and learning of the next generation of STEP, so that the Society is  passed on to the next generation and grows in the future.

David Harvey  | Chief Executive

Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP)

Invitation for Expressions of Interest in Forming SIG on ADR 
Following the launch on the first Special Interest Group (SIG) on Business Families on 30 September 2013, the STEP Committee is considering whether it is feasible to have a second SIG, on Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR). The proposed SIG on ADR aims to promote the understanding of alternative means of dispute resolution for trust and tax disputes. This intended scope is to provide a forum for members to discuss, promote and participate in the development of ADR pathways especially mediation and arbitration as alternatives to traditional court litigation. Mr S Sharma, Committee Member, an advocate & solicitor and panel mediator and arbitrator, will spearhead the formation of this SIG if there is sufficient interest from members. 

Members who are interested in being part of the proposed SIG on ADR are invited to contact the Secretariat by 30 November 2013 and register their interest in this SIG. Interested members are also requested to provide a short biography and their contact particulars when doing so.


MAS Consultation on Exchange of Information
A briefing session was held at MAS offices on 25th September among several governmental offices and the trust industry regarding the implementation of the new Exchange of Information (EOI) Guidelines to be practiced in Singapore concerning tax matters. The STEP delegation included our Chair Ms. Seow Chee Goh along with the branch committee members. Also in attendance were representatives of the Singapore Trustee Association. The session, organized by MAS and lead by the Ministry of Finance, included participation from IRAS and the Attorney General´s Chambers in what turned to be a frank and informative dialogue between authorities and our industry on this important subject.

Response by STEP Singapore branch to MOF Public Consultation on Amendments to the Income Tax to incorporate changes in Exchange of Information (EOI) Regime HERE.
A summary of the key comments received and MOF’s responses available HERE.
Tax Information Exchange – The New Legal Landscape 
By 1st January 2014, the powers of the Comptroller of Income Tax (Comptroller) at the Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore (IRAS) arelikely to be considerably enhanced to more efficiently extract confidential information and documents from persons in Singapore and provide them to foreign tax authorities (FTAs). This goes beyond bank and trust information held by entities supervised by the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS).

[Read More]

Contributed by S.Sharma - ATMD Bird & Bird LLP
STEP Certificate for Financial Services – Singapore (Trusts and Estate Planning)

The program’s inaugural launch was in February 2012. Since then the facilitator, Rockwills Institute Pte Ltd and its team of experienced lecturers, roped in from Rockwills and externally from leading practitioners have conducted two intakes of face to face classes totalling 58 students. This is a unique program targeted at equipping Financial Services Professionals (Financial Advisory, Insurance, Banking and other Professionals) to develop their knowledge and enable them to assist their clients in estate planning apart from the wealth management services that they already provide.

Singapore is currently working to boost its pool of local finance experts so as to expand its robust financial sector. As published in the Straits Times on 16 May 2013, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said that the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) is working with the banks to discover ways to cultivate more local talent. Moving forward, this augers well for the STEP program as the financial services industry recognize and support the need to invest in the development and continuing education of Singapore’s human capital.”  

Our heartiest congratulations to this year’s graduates:

Ms Magdalene Chew Mr Lim Chin Siong, Eric Ms Seah Hsiao Wen, Evelyn
Mr Chua Kim Kiat Mr Lim Hon Keong, Eric Mr Garry Slattery
Mr Lai Chee Ho, Alvin Mr Lim Pei Hong, Winston Ms Tan Kean Hui (Chen Jinghui), Jolene
Mr Law Min, Andy Ms Lim Huiping, Fion Ms Tan Tsui Shia, Evelyn
Mr Lee Wei Meng Ms Looi Chee Kun Mr Tang Poh Kee, Martin
Ms Lee Su Ling Mr Ng Swee Poh Mr Tse Jak Yeung, Anthony
Mr Leong Kee Ming, Lionel Mr Ong Cheow Siang Ms Wee Siew Ling, Cynthia

Contributed by Lee Chiwi - Rockwills Trustee Ltd

Post-Event Updates
Post Event Update: Foreign Trusts: Problems and Solutions for Trustees and US Beneficiaries (1 August 2013, Level 10 M Hotel Singapore)
We are cognizant of the fact that families with family members who are US persons need to plan for their wealth transfer. Foreign grantor trust planning is a typical structure one would use. The speakers spoke about some of nuisances of drafting a foreign grantor trust and way to improvement the language of the trust agreement. The focus of the talk was on the phase post grantor’s demise. Speakers gave a good insight into issuesa foreign grantor trust (if it chooses to stay outside US) needs to observe in recording of income and gains, taxation of the US beneficiary and filing requirements. 

Contributed by Goh Seow Chee - JP Morgan

Post Event Update: Changes to VISTA and Other Trust Laws in the BVI (27 August 2013, FTSE Room, Level 9 Capital Tower)

STEP Singapore organised a talk on changes to the VISTA and other Trust Laws in the BVI on 27 August 2013. Two prominent speakers were roped in to do the talk – Mr. Richard Grasby of Maples and Mr. Zac Lucas of Lawrence Graham.
Richard gave an update on the changes of the VISTA, which included written clarity on the duty of care by trustees, provisions for co-trusteeship, allowing variable directions to the trust, etc. He covered some examples of the benefits of the changes and how some practical uses of the VISTA. He also highlighted that the application of the VISTA is led by the beneficiary and is not intended as a trustee risk management tool.


Zac, who was one of the co-heads of the committee that looked into the changes of the laws of the VISTA and the other trust laws in the BVI, provided explanation as to why the changes were made and the intentions of the new laws. With the changes, the trustees have better guidance on their roles and responsibilities. Zac also touched on the use of VISTA together with Private Trust Companies (PTCs) as well as how creditors’ protection or security arrangements can be better managed.
32 participants attended the talk.

Contributed by Linda Wong - Kensington Trust Group

Launch of Special Interest Group on Business Families

On 30 September 2013, STEP (Singapore Branch) launched the Special Interest Group (SIG) on Family Businesses. This SIG aims to promote the understanding of structuring issues faced by families with business succession.

It engages professionals to have a better appreciation of what is needed to effectively and efficiently advise families on their areas of needs. 

Mr Zac Lucas who is chairing the SIG, together with Ms Goh Seow Chee, Chair of the Branch, shared with members they could be involved in this area of interest. Slides presented at the launch can be viewed HERE.



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