Jersey’s range of Trust and Foundation structures and a commitment to updating its Charities Law can augment its appeal as a specialist centre for philanthropic activity, whilst its approach to beneficial ownership data collection is ahead of other countries, according to panellists at Jersey Finance’s Annual Private Client Conference in London last week.
The event, entitled ‘A World of Opportunity’, drew an audience of around 300 private client lawyers, accountants and advisors. A keynote speech was given on the current UK economy and global recovery by Stephanie Flanders (Chief Market Strategist for the UK and Europe for J.P. Morgan Asset Management), who moderated the panel sessions. Stephanie said that Europe was finally experiencing a decent recovery and that the pound was currently the strongest currency in the G20. In respect of the UK, she explained that reaching a stage of ‘normalisation’ in the economy would take a lot longer than expected. Further, she referred to UK business optimism as being at its highest since 1968 and though the country remains in austere times, on balance, there should be no tightening of budget policy this year.
Richard Hay (Tax Partner and Head of the Private Banking Practice at Stikeman Elliot), also delivered a keynote speech and there followed a lively debate on the global transparency agenda, in which the value of a public register of beneficial ownership was questioned, with the suggestion that it was the quality of the information collected and shared with law enforcement agencies that was more important. It was claimed that Jersey’s framework for supervising corporate and trust service providers and collecting good data was further ahead of other countries, including the UK. Agreeing that more efficient quality data flows should be implemented on a global playing field basis to assist law enforcement bodies, panellists also highlighted Jersey’s role in helping to raise global standards and claimed that the focus should now shift to how Jersey could assist other centres and engage with developing countries to support their data exchange frameworks.
The conference also focused on ‘Evolution or Revolution’, whereby the audience were advised that the number of Foundations formed in the first quarter of the year in Jersey was at its highest level since the structure was launched five years ago.
With the fifth anniversary of the Jersey Foundation approaching (July 2014), the latest statistics show that 21 structures were formed in the first quarter of this year, around 60% higher than the overall average quarterly formation during the past five years, with the structure finding particular favour with clients from EU countries, Switzerland, Russia, South America and the Middle East. More than 250 Foundations have now been established in Jersey since the law came into force in 2009, with around a third of those having a charitable or philanthropic objective.
In the debate, which also highlighted the 30th anniversary of Jersey’s pioneering trust law, panellists emphasised that HNW individuals were comfortable with jurisdictions like Jersey that had a robust disclosure framework in place. Panellists also discussed how clients were increasingly looking for a multidisciplinary service, that could cater for their bespoke family, philanthropic and commercial needs, and that Jersey’s range of structures provided a good platform for this.
Sitting on the panel debates were Jersey’s Chief Minister Senator Ian Gorst, Alan Binnington (President of the Jersey Association of Trust Companies), David McNair (Head of Growth, Equity and Sustainable Livelihoods at Save the Children UK), Ken McCracken (Joint Managing Director, Withers Consulting Group), Neel Sahai (Director, Minerva Trust & Corporate Services Limited), Maya Prabhu (Managing Director, Coutts Institute), Salpy Kouyoumjian (Of Counsel, Baker & McKenzie) and Nick Williams (Partner, Ogier Legal Jersey).
A talk was also given by Greg Davies (Head of Behavioural and Quantitative Investment Philosophy at Barclays) regarding economics and investment behaviour, whilst Lucy Kellaway (Management Columnist at the Financial Times) rounded the event up with a satirical look at the wealth management landscape.
Following the conference, Geoff Cook, CEO of Jersey Finance, commented:
“Jersey is extremely well placed and held in very high regard by London professionals, who are seeking robust, professional support for their clients. What they are looking for is frequently not about tax, but asset protection, security and estate planning and, given the strength of Jersey’s law, its commitment to being a leader in transparency, its expertise and its range of products, the opportunities for Jersey are global.”