Hello once again. First, for those that attended the talk cum networking event sponsored by the Jersey Financial Services Commission (JFSC) in March 2015, thank you for the feedback. Various regulatory issues and insights that were discussed at the event leave much food for thought. Secondly, over at your respective organisations, I’m sure that members are similarly pre-occupied with compliance of regulatory requirements such as IRAS' US FATCA Income Tax Regulations and E-Tax Guide, recently published on the 17 March 2015. If members are looking for IT solutions to help FIs generate the FATCA Form 8966 Return (in the IRS-prescribed XML format) for uploading into IDES (International Data Exchange Service), note that the Secretariat will disseminate information on possible vendors that you might wish to contact.
Also hot on the industry's heels is the O.E.C.D. Common Reporting Standards ("CRS") regime that is designed to create a global standard for the automatic exchange of financial account information. To help members understand what's in store for us in the fiduciary industry, the Branch is looking to hold events on the topic of CRS in the near future.
Chief Executive's visit
I'm happy to report that the STEP World Wide Chief Executive, David Harvey was in Singapore from the 23rd to 27th March 2015. He also attended the JFSC event and spent some time presenting to members on the recent STEP Rebranding and new logo "Advising Families Across Generations". I also accompanied David in visits to several financial institutions to promote STEP's Qualifications Framework and Employers' Training Scheme. It was heartening to note that many of the employers' representatives were supportive and highly committed to have their employees enroll the educational and certification programmes offered by STEP. David also attended the STEP Branch Roadshow on the 27th March 2015 where the Branch committee members hosted a number of representatives from various professional bodies and academia for a lunch cum presentation. Invited guests came from the legal, financial, accounting, tax, regulatory, and education fraternities. This was part of the efforts of the Branch to build bridges to professionals from other organisations.
What's forthcoming in a matter of weeks is the STEP Branch's AGM on the 30th June 2015. Routine business at the AGM includes elections for the new committee for 2015/2016. At this juncture, I'll like to announce that at this forthcoming AGM, for personal reasons and other present commitments, I will not be seeking to be elected for a further term as Chair nor a committee position. In due course, there will be notices given for nominations of committee positions and office bearers. If you are available to serve and be able to contribute your services to the Branch, please come forward as our organization will need new committee members not only for succession, but to enhance the expertise and bring on board new ideas for it to stay relevant for members and the industry. The Branch committee also welcomes members that might wish to serve on the various sub-committees of the Branch.
Finally, still very much fresh on every one's minds is of course the recent passing of Singapore's founding father, the late Mr Lee Kuan Yew. For the rest of message, I thought it apt to title it "Legacy". No one exemplified the call of duty more so than Mr Lee and his legacy is all around us- in the buildings, greenery and parks and many other institutions. The week of his passing and bereavement will remain in our memories for a long time. Incidentally, David Harvey, Chief Executive STEP Worldwide and I went to Tanjong Pagar CC to pay our respects and express our condolences.
One of the things that I found interesting was the wishes in Mr Lee's Will, requiring his executors to demolish his home at Oxley Rise after his death. This is certainly not an easy decision for his executors, two of Mr Lee's children to carry out. They most certainly would have fond memories and strong sentiments over their family home. What their ultimate decision is remains to be seen. If they carry out their father's wishes to the letter, many will see this as a nation's loss as there is strong public opinion that the property should instead be preserved as our national heritage.
As fiduciaries, we will from time and time encounter unfamiliar situations where difficult decisions have to be made. There may be criticism as outcomes would not please everyone. But duty calls beckons us to do what’s best and to carry out the responsibilities entrusted upon us. And at the end of the day, the fulfilment of our client's legacies must be given due consideration and whatever decision made, must stand up to scrutiny of the law.
See you soon!
Chairperson, STEP (Singapore Branch), 2014-2015