Chairman's Message
Dear Members, 

We had our AGM on the 28 June 2012 for the financial year ended 31 March 2012. For those members who attended the AGM, thank you for your support. It was important that the Branch adopted amendments to our constitution to align ourselves to STEP Worldwide and the rest of the STEP Branches in the world. We had David Harvey, CEO, STEP Worldwide, who attended our AGM and answered questions from the floor.

The past year has been a great experience for myself. The single activity that instantly comes to my mind would be the Branch's seminars. Besides a fantastic STEP Asia Conference, the Branch organised very successful lunch seminars. Those seminars covered a wide range of topics which were relevant in today's wealth planning toolkit. We were fortunate to have expert speakers on those topics. The Branch will strive to achieve the same success by bringing you relevant and interesting topics at our lunch seminars. It was very encouraging to see the support from members in the past and we look to see you continued support in this coming year. All these great experiences could not be achieved without a bunch of dedicated commitee members and our very abled secretariat.

I will serve as Branch Chair for the new financial year and the rest of the committee members are as follows:

Vice Chairman - James Aitken
Secretary - Lee Chiwi
Treasurer - Alexis Medina
Ordinary members - Linda Wong, Mark Smallwood, Sundareswara Sharma

See you at our next lunch talk on the 17 July.

Goh Seow Chee
Chairman, STEP Singapore Branch 

Update to Members - Council Meeting in London on 20 April 2012

Angelo Venardos attended the Council Meeting in London on 20 April 2012 on behalf of the Singapore branch. 

His report to Members is as follows:

This was the most successful meeting since the new system of Board and Council came into effect last year. Across the agenda, Council offered valuable and helpful guidance, participation and constructive criticism.

Whilst the feedback about the Board was generally positive, the Board wants to respond through the secretariat to suggestions that the Board needs to be more visible and there will be further news on proposals to strengthen the Board over coming months.

In the meantime, I have included some interesting statistics on our membership in Singapore, and regional membership growth in the future.

Future STEP Membership – where will members come from? [READ MORE]
STEP Branch Regional Report [READ MORE]

Contributed by Angelo Venardos, Council Member for South East Asia

Jurisdiction Update 


The Cayman Islands (Cayman) is a British Overseas Territory located in the Western Caribbean, 150 miles south of Cuba, 167 miles northwest of Jamaica and 480 miles southwest of Miami. It comprises three islands with a total area of 101 square miles: Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman. George Town, the capital, is on Grand Cayman. The Cayman Dollar is pegged to the US Dollar at a rate of exchange of US$1.25 to CI$1.00. GDP per capita is CI$42,605 (2010) and the population is 54,397 (2010).

“Up Close & Personal” – Interview with Mark Smallwood

Mark Smallwood 
Organisation Deutsche Bank AG, Singapore 
Designation & Role in Organisation: Managing Director - Head of Wealth Management Solutions Asia Pacific

Years in Trust Industry: 25

Getting to know Mark Smallwood

The book I am currently reading is ... The King of Oil, the Secret Lives of Marc Rich by Daniel Ammann 

The person(s) who have been my biggest influence is ... My Mother

What I like most about my job/experiences in the trust industry is ... Finding Solutions to Problems

My golden rule is ... The Client always comes first.

The business expression I hate most is ... I'm going to be late.

Post-Event Updates
 Designing a Cross Border Investment Structure that Really meets Your Client’s Needs 
  (1 March 2012, STI Auditorium) 

On Thursday 1 March 2012, Mr James Quarmby, Partner and Head of International Taxation at Thomas Eggar LLP, gave a refreshing lunch-time presentation, on designing a cross-border investment structure in today’s demanding and complex environment that really meets the client’s needs.

Mr Quarmby’s innovative approach to tax planning is much lauded by the profession, and his presentation to STEP Singapore on that day demonstrated his depth of knowledge and experience.

The presentation kicked off with an excellent overview of the issues and challenges facing the industry, such as the difficult investment climate, increasingly aggressive revenue authorities and client demands that are complex and hard to achieve.

Mr Quarmby’s mastery of the tools and techniques of wealth structuring was evident in the next segment of his presentation. He introduced a wide range of investment structures which could be designed and implemented to hold investments, ranging from “classic” solutions like trusts and companies, to more complex alternatives like Private Unit Trusts and Collective Investment Schemes.

Mr Quarmby’s concluded by assuring the audience that notwithstanding the complex times for clients and their advisors alike, with the right planning, clients’ objectives could still be met.

It was a very informative and interesting session with some good discussion both during the Q&A segment and more informally afterwards. Mr Quarmby’s presentation was thoroughly appreciated by all who attended.

 Discretions in Trust Administration - Financial Abuse Risk and Management Right Succession 
  (27 April 2012, SGX Auditorium) 

Our April STEP session, held at the SGX Auditorium,, featured Michael Perkins speaking on the subject of discretions in trust administration. Michael shared with our audience his vast experience on the management of personal and family dynamics from the trustee's perspective. His presentation offered interesting insights into key areas that trustees should analyse when faced with the family's expectations of the trust and the trustee, allowing for better planning and positioning as the structure matures.

"Trustee discretions are granted under the trust deed and apply normally irrespective of the type of trust property. Family Business equity is of course one type of trust property that can be affected.

The purpose of a fully discretionary trust is a function of the policy of the trustee rather than the language of the trust instrument. This can lead to a substantial lack of predictability in the operation of the trust as decision making shifts across generations. It is in this context that financial abuse risk is often first introduced to trust operations.

Trust drafting practice for private clients is moving away from a fully discretionary model to a more qualified maintenance trust model. This approach can reduce financial abuse risk but raise relational property claim risk.

These concerns can be alleviated by introducing family governance as an activity for the common interests of the family enterprise. Mediation and collaborative driven practice approaches are useful in this work. STEP WW through its Business Family Special Interest Group and the Americian Bar Association International Dispute Resolution Committee are working on this issue at present.

Mediation is increasingly been used in Australia to limit the referral of disputes to Court and enhance the parties ability to resolve disputes themselves. Collaborative dispute resolution practice is an aspect of this field. Where privacy is sought by a family, mediation can be most useful. The current case of the Rinehart family in Australia is an example of a family whose dispute has now come into the public domain and the family members are now exposed to heightened security risks."

The STEP Family Business Advisers certificate is a new initiative. I am copying this message to Nigel Race at STEP WW so he can give us a view whether this certificate could be discussed in Singapore in April.

 International Pressures on Switzerland: Only A First Step? 
  (21 May 2012, FTSE Room, Capital Tower) 

The speaker for the seminar Jan Langlo, Senior Wealth Planner with Rhone Trust and Fiduciary Services SA spent a good hour giving the audience the background to the Swiss challenges in the last three years relating to mounting international pressures to exchange more tax information. This included (i) the application of the OECD standard on the exchange of tax information, (ii) the resolution of the Swiss banks' tax issues with the United States, (iii) the implementation of FATCA, (iv) the constant push of the European Union in favour of an automatic exchange of information and (v) the introduction of a criminal offence related to direct taxes as a prelude to money laundering.

Jan highlighted that since March 2009, Switzerland has negotiated or revised more than 40 DTAs that include the administrative assistance clause according to Article 26 of the OECD Model Tax Convention. Switzerland in its first phase of the peer review exam by the Global Forum, may well have to recognize that all countries may identify their taxpayers « typically by their names » but also by other means such as their address, their date of birth or their account number, as long as there can be no doubt about the result. As for its revised DTA with the United States, approved by the Swiss Parliament and signed on 23 September 2009, the DTA still has not been ratified by the United States. Switzerland on the other hand has ratified it and even unilaterally modified its interpretation thereof to include group requests (as in the 1996 DTA). But at present, The IRS and DOJ have their eyes set on at least 11 other Swiss banks, among which Credit Suisse, which are suspected of helping US taxpayers avoiding US taxes.

As for the impact of the FATF Recommendations, Jan said that this include, among others, the obligation for each Member State to have in its internal law at least one tax offence that is a predicate to money laundering, both for direct and indirect taxes. Hence, this will force Switzerland to create a new tax crime, since currently only a qualified tax fraud in the field of indirect taxes is punishable by more than 3 years of imprisonment, which makes it a predicate offence to money laundering. In a recent announcement on 22 Feb 2012, the Swiss Federal Council reported that it will propose concrete strategies for a tax-compliant Swiss financial centre by Sep 2012. In rounding of his presentation, Jan also pointed to similar developments experienced by Singapore, e.g. Singapore also signed around 30 DTAs with an EOI provision under the OECD standard, but on a positive note, highlighted the differences to the TIEA (unlike Switzerland).



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