BREAKFAST BRIEFING: Offshore Centres To Stay, But Expect Fewer Of Them

Tom Burroughes, Group Editor, London, 2 October 2013


Onshore wealth management will become more significant, and the number of offshore IFCs will consolidate as large countries sustain pressure against them, a Breakfast Briefing heard recently.

The world of onshore wealth management is likely to become even more important as large countries flex their muscles against offshore jurisdictions, producing consolidation among some IFCs in the battle for market share, a Breakfast Briefing meeting in London heard recently.

While the debate about what “offshore” or “onshore” mean is not settled, panellists at the event, organised by ClearView Financial Media, publisher of this website, agreed that old-style offshore centres acting as secretive locations for illicit funds were doomed. (The event at the Carlton Club in London’s St James’s district was held in association with Asiaciti Trust, the family-owned, independent fiduciary services group.)

The speakers at the event were Sean Coughlan, managing director of the Asiaciti Trust Singapore office; Seb Dovey, co-founder and managing partner of Scorpio Partnership; Andrew Goodman, partner, private client team, Taylor Wessing; Matthias Memminger, partner, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Rupert Ticehurst, partner, private client department, Berwin Leighton Paisner.

Coughlan set out what he sees as one of the primary, and enduring, advantages of offshore financial hubs – the availability of products, pointing to the sheer range of options that people have in financial services and wealth structuring in offshore centres today.

However, a worry revolves around confidentiality of client data as governments push for more exchanges, he said. There are concerns about whether in some cases the data is exchanged to regimes that are corrupt or fail to provide suitable protections for confidential data.

Given the pressure currently being exerted by the larger western economies it is inevitable that some of the smaller players in the offshore list of jurisdictions will fall out of favour, he said. Another issue is simply of how larger, powerful jurisdictions can engage in “bullying” of smaller ones, Coughlan added.

One of the benefits in having a fund domiciled in a low- or no-tax jurisdiction is that this can to some extent mitigate periods of poor performance of funds, he noted.

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