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6 June 2018

Equiom: Changing times for a growing global market

Richard Tribe (pictured), Head of Equiom Private Office, discusses the changing needs of RBCC member firm Equiom’s discerning client base and the growing need for a more global service.

As an international professional services provider, Equiom has been serving multi-generational families and corporations for decades and we have seen some dramatic changes to client behaviours over the years. Most notably there has been a shift in attitudes of the very wealthy, from a focus on wealth protection for future generations to more immediate, material desires – a luxurious lifestyle involving expensive cars, multiple properties, private jets or yachts.

This development is particularly true for previously under developed and unstable countries. The wealthy of these nations were traditionally humble people who wanted the best for their offspring, with many sending their children to be educated in the UK and US where they often settled. This resulted in a dispersion of wealthy families located across the globe and created the need for family offices with a true multi-jurisdictional reach.

According to Knight Frank’s Global Wealth Report, the UK and the US are still home to many of the world’s wealthy. The United States has the highest number of ultra high-net-worth individuals with Europe second, followed closely by Asia. However, from 2017 to 2018 Russia and CIS experienced the highest UHNWI population growth rate of 26%, followed by Latin America at 20%. More and more countries have adopted the materialistic way of life and the world is more liberalised today, with further wealth being generated in countries such as China and India.

More growth is predicted in the UHNW market. This means there is greater need for service providers to cater for the discerning client with wealth interests all over the world. For families, individuals and corporates, every circumstance is unique, resulting in a need for more complex wealth structuring with an increasingly global reach.

The traditional model of investing in a conservative stock portfolio is rarely seen as the norm these days. Developments in technology over the years have opened doors to more sophisticated cross-border investment opportunities, and it is not uncommon to find UHNWIs holding a diverse range of assets, comprising, for example, real estate (both long-term investment and development projects globally), interests in start-up or well-established trading entities, artwork and antiquities, and digital currencies. UHNWIs want to stay current with the latest trends and initiatives and generally follow what their peers are doing as they don’t like to miss opportunities.

In respect of offshore structures, the ever-changing tax laws internationally mean that traditional service providers need to be flexible and incorporate the very best tax and legal advice to ensure the solution not only meets the needs of the client, but is also fit for purpose. For trusts nowadays there are more limited tax advantages. However, the fundamental purposes of asset protection, succession planning and confidentiality are still extremely important and are now seen as the main driver for such wealth planning. In markets such as the Middle East and Asia we have seen much higher interest in private trust companies (PTCs) over the last 12-18 months, as clients can retain a certain amount of control over their assets while still achieving the aforementioned objectives.

Modern families have specific needs and want to work with an adviser firm with an international presence which can continue to support the family wherever they may be located. Similarly, most corporate clients have an ever-expanding international marketplace and continue to seek opportunities for new markets around the world, so having a firm that can assist them internationally is an attractive option for them, especially where there can be one main point of contact within that firm to coordinate matters. It is this desire for a trusted professional adviser that I believe has come back to the forefront of importance for our clients.

That is why we developed Equiom Private Office - to provide a bespoke, premium service for private and corporate clients, committed to meeting the needs of UHNWIs, wealthy families and international corporations. It was founded on the three pillars of wealth management that our clients value - asset protection, succession planning and confidentiality.

The services we offer have evolved with market needs. A thorough understanding of the current generation and the most experienced professional team to cater to each individual situation and client is what sets Equiom Private Office apart from the traditional family service of yesteryear.

For more information, visit www.equiomgroup.com/privateoffice