Dear Members,

It is amazing how fast time goes by. It has already been one year since our committee was appointed. I thank you all for your support for accepting our appointment for another year.

As mentioned during the recent AGM, we had a good run during the 2015-2016 period of office. We managed to host 6 seminars focussed on pressing issues such as the AEOI and CRS, to updates on the regulations and requirements of the Lasting Power of Attorney and handling of vulnerable persons. We managed to work jointly with the Special Needs Trust Company to raise funds for families who require trust assistance as well as jointly hosted the STEP Asia Conference in Singapore. The success of the conference resulted in a significant improvement in the Branch’s financial standing.

What lies ahead then?

We are planning to conduct another round of updates on CRS as soon as the approved guidelines has been issued by the authority. The technical committee of the branch has submitted its feedback to the Ministry of Finance on the public consultation paper on CRS on 29 July 2016. There are also other updates that we are planning to share with members, especially issues relating to corporate risks and offences due to aggressive structures, implications from Brexit etc. Do keep your eyes and ears open for our coming events.

Thank you.

Linda Wong
Chairperson, STEP Singapore Branch
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Members,

Welcome Year of the Fire Monkey 2016!

 We had an exciting end to 2015. The STEP Asia Conference held on 11 and 12 November 2015, was well received and we even had the highest registration of participants at 513. Immediately after the Conference, the Branch partnered with Special Needs Trust Company (SNTC) to raise funds for needy families, with special needs family members. We managed to raise close to $72,000. A huge thank you to all donors.

 In December 2015, whilst many were busy shopping for Christmas, STEP Worldwide organised a Leaders Forum in London. During the Forum, ideas were pitched on how to service members better. We will look to bring forth these ideas to all members in Singapore.

 We hope that you have checked out the Branch's website recently. The revamped website is now much more vibrant, up to date and user-friendly. You can even register and pay for the Branch events online!

 We opened the new year with a workshop "Dealing with the Vulnerable - Mental Capacity Workshop" which was held on 21 January 2016. The interactive participation of the attendees with the respective speakers made the workshop very lively and enjoyable. For more details, please read about the event in the newsletter.

 The celebration of Chinese New Year will not be complete without the traditional "Lo Hei". Whilst some of us may secretly enjoy playing with our food, the tossing of the salad always brings much joy to all. Members took the opportunity to catch up with each other in a relaxed and festive setting, and of course accompanied with delicious food.

 Our next event will be on 30 March 2016, where we get serious with the Common Reporting Standards (CRS). So, look out for our flyers and we look forward to seeing all of you there.

 Here's wishing all of you a Healthy, Happy and Prosperous Year!

Thank you.

Linda Wong
Chairperson, STEP (Singapore Branch), 2015-2016

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Members,

The first quarter saw a good turn up for the joint presentations by EDB and Baker & McKenzie.Wong & Leow - Living and Investing through the Family Office in Singapore, which was held on 14 August 2015. The joint presentation by HMRC and Pinsent Masons - The Long Arm of UK Financial Crime Enforcement, which was held on 23 September 2015, also attracted a fairly large attendance. Based on the feedback that was collected from the attendees, we are pleased that both talks had provided good insights to all. For more information on each of these talks, please refer to the summary of the events.

On 11 and 12 November 2015, we will be hosting the STEP Asia Conference at the Marina Bay Sands. This event will see prominent speakers and many members from all over the world converging in Singapore to share knowledge, to network and possibly to conduct business. The program that has been set up for this conference covers a wide range of interesting matters relating to Asia - from increased Compliance, to Government Automatic Exchange of Information, to Philanthropy and many more. To those who have not yet register, please do so quickly to secure your seat. We look forward to seeing you there.

 We are sure you would have seen a flyer that we sent out last month regarding the branch's partnership with Special Needs Trust Company Limited (SNTC). SNTC's focus is to enhance the financial security and well-being of those with special needs in Singapore. The branch would like to assist SNTC to bring awareness to the Trust industry in Singapore of the good work that SNTC carries out as well as to appeal to members to offer assistance. Your generosity is very much appreciated.

We have also launched a new look branch website. The re-vamped website aims to be much more up to date and user-friendly.

Last but not least, I want to congratulate the graduates of the STEP Certificate for Financial Services for successfully completing the course.

Thank you.

Linda Wong
Chairperson, STEP (Singapore Branch), 2015-2016

Dear Members,

On behalf of the Branch Committee, wishing everyone Gong Hei Fatt Choy!

It was good seeing some of you at our recent events. First: “Marital, Quasi-Marital, Familial and Quasi-Familial Property Disputes” where we learnt the complexities that may be involved in co-ownership of property assets. The presentation went very well, thanks to the two excellent speakers- Simon Bruce and Mark Yeo. Secondly, earlier in the month, we also had the benefit of the insightful views of Fernando Gandioli on the topic “So you’re FATCA registered…Now what do you do?”.

So what else is in the pipeline at our Branch?

STEP members’ complimentary event
With March 2015 round the corner, I see my schedule populated with various matters. I’m sure the same goes for you as we all get ready with business again. Please mark on your diaries on 24th March 2015 for the STEP members’ complimentary talk cum networking event: “The Jersey Experience – Fourteen Years of Trust Company regulation and the Impact on the Beneficial Ownership Debate”. Do register early HERE.

Chief Executive’s visit
The STEP World Wide Chief Executive, David Harvey will be in Singapore and also joining us for the Jersey Finance event. One item on David’s agenda is to promote STEP’s Qualifications Framework and Employers’ Training Scheme and to give employers an opportunity to let us know what they need from STEP with regard to qualifications. If you feel that it might be opportune for David to meet with you or your employers, please drop me a note.

4th intake, STEP Cert for Financial Services (Trusts and Estate Planning)
The 4th intake had started in early February and is into its 2nd week. This Certificate has been developed to help financial intermediaries understand the legal issues concerned in financial and estate planning in Singapore. The teaching team comprises some of the leading practitioners in Singapore.

Charity Event
Just giving you advance notice that STEP will help SNTC (Special Needs Trust Company) raise some funds this year. We look forward to members’ support and contributions towards this charitable cause. Details will be available shortly.

See you soon!

Lee Chiwi
Chairperson, STEP (Singapore Branch), 2014-2015

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Members,

A big thank you to all members for the strong turn-out for the recent Pre AGM talk - "What You Need to Know About CRS and its Impact for Your Clients?" and the AGM. I believe the CRS will have an impact on how we structure businesses for our clients. Therefore, we need to keep ourselves updated on any changes or new regulations on this matter. STEP Singapore will continue to monitor the progress of the implementation of the CRS and will organise more talks and updates for members.

As the new committee takes office for 2015/2016, lots of planning and organising are already underway. I hope to see more active participation from members, not just in attendance of the events that we will organise, but also in contributions to thoughts, ideas and volunteered time to assist the Singapore branch to provide a robust, active and forward thinking platform for its members in the area of education, engagement with regulators and relevant authorities and any other areas that the branch feels relevant to the trust and fiduciary industry.The team comprising of the STEP Singapore branch committee are as follows:

Vice Chairperson  : Annette Sui
Secretary   : Chee Fang Theng
Treasurer  : Cathryn Lau
Ordinary Member  : Lionel Choi
Ordinary Member  : Goh Seow Chee
Ordinary Member  : Ashley Ong

In addition, the following sub-committees have also been set up:

1. Editorial – Chair : Chee Fang Theng
2. Technical – Chair : Goh Seow Chee
3. Education/Events – Co-Chairs : Cathryn Lau/Lionel Choi
4. Membership – Chair : Annette Sui

The Chairs of the above sub-committees will be approaching members to join and participate in the sub-committees. So, I would be deeply appreciative if members would offer your kind assistance and share your expertise and knowledge with them. As STEP Worldwide disseminates more information to the branch, there may be possibilities of more sub-committees in the future, hence there will be plenty of opportunities for members’ participation, feedback and contribution to the Singapore branch.

The first upcoming event will be a joint talk by EDB and Baker & McKenzie on 14 August 2015. More information on this event has been circulated to all members. We are also in discussions with HMRC and Pinsent Masons on joint presentation to members on 23rd September. Once confirmed, details will be sent to you.

Thank you.
Linda Wong
Chairperson, STEP (Singapore Branch), 2015-2016

Dear Members,

With Chinese New Year round the corner, I just want to take the opportunity to wish you all a Wonderful and Happy New Year!

May I also drop you a note to highlight some developments at STEP. STEP has grown dramatically from its beginnings as a niche society for UK-based accountants and lawyers working with trusts. We now have nearly 20,000 members across the world, from a broad range of professional backgrounds. STEP’s brand, which has remained the same throughout our journey from local society to global professional body, is therefore in need of change to reflect the STEP of today. As a result we have evolved our brand to one that presents us as a credible, established and modern organisation.

From 29 January 2015 all branches, chapters and regions across the STEP world will start to adopt the new STEP branding. For us in Singapore, we will adopt in all communications the new logo as follows:

It will also be timely for us to provide members with further information on the STEP rebranding at our forthcoming talk cum networking event on “The Jersey Experience – Fourteen Years of Trust Company regulation and the Impact on the Beneficial Ownership Debate” which will be complimentary for members. This event will be free for members on 24th March 2015 (click for details) so please register your interest. Separately, as part of our rebranding exercise, the branch committee members will also be hosting a lunch roadshow reception for various heads of professional and academic organizations in Singapore on the 27th March 2015. The purpose is to showcase STEP and publicize our new brand. With this initiative, we hope to foster ties and collaboration with other professional organizations for the ultimate benefit of our members.

Finally, we also look forward to your participation at the Branch’s Chinese New Year lunch on the 26th Feb 2015. Join us for this festive occasion to celebrate the New Year!

Lee Chiwi
Chairperson, STEP (Singapore Branch), 2014-2015

Dear Members,

Regulatory Matters

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.

Branch AGM

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.

Legacy

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!

Lee Chiwi
Chairperson, STEP (Singapore Branch), 2014-2015

Dear Members, 

With this December issue, I’ll like to take this occasion to wish all of you a wonderful Christmas and New Year!

Just a couple of days ago, some 16 Singaporeans were reported to have been injured in a bus accident in Hokkaido. Fortunately, it appeared nothing too serious happened. So if you’re travelling soon for holidays, keep a lookout for each other have a safe journey.

Just an update on my November trip to Miami for the inaugural STEP Global Congress (6th -7th Nov 2014). All attendees were given a complimentary copy of a STEP publication, a book titled “Developing a Global Agenda”, intended as a companion to the Congress. It contains articles written by many of the speakers and panelists at the Congress. For those interested in the keynote speech by Philip Marcovici in Hong Kong at the STEP Asia 2014, you might want to read his article “Developments in global tax transparency and the need for effective dialogue” in the publication. I would summarize the theme for the Congress, borrowing the words of Richard Pease as follows: “...exploring some of the challenges that face advisors in a world where the international agenda of regulatory measures, information exchange, tax and estate planning and the relationship between taxpayers and revenue authorities are undergoing rapid and unprecedented changes.” In Singapore we are not spared from the new regulatory changes either. Over the last few months, many trust companies had undergone regulatory audits. With the reviews and implementations following the audit, it will make financial institutions here more robust. So embrace the new challenges of the regulatory environment as it is going to be the nature of engaging business in this industry!

On a lighter note, STEP’s new Business Plan 2021 was also launched at the Congress. It was also announced that STEP will soon have its new logo to reflect the new Plan. This will be exciting for members as they could look forward to acquiring new skills, knowledge and specialization to meet tomorrow’s 2021 agenda and to network with the industry’s brightest and best. More information will be given early next year.

Guess travelling all the way to the other side of the earth was worthwhile to get first- hand knowledge of all the things going on at STEP. Incidentally, there were four of us based in Singapore at that Congress and I still owe the drinks to the Singapore entourage! The other thing that I did on the long air flights (via LA, over 40 hours) was to catch up on movies. Here’s one where estate planners might be interested in: “the Grand Budapest Hotel”, a comedy which had quite a few twists. Part of the plot involved a will which was only to take effect if the testator was murdered! The will also reveals the testator leaving much of her fortune, the hotel, and a painting to Gustave, the concierge, making him wealthy in the process.

Finally, before closing my message, on behalf of the STEP Singapore Branch Committee and other well- wishers, I would like to congratulate both our members, namely Dr. Angelo Venardos (CEO, Heritage Trust Group and Board Member of STEP Worldwide) and Ms. Celine Tan (Director of Portcullis Trust (Singapore) Ltd) for their recent excellent achievements in being conferred the title of “IBF Fellow” in the segment of Wealth Management.

The IBF conferment ceremony was held by The Institute of Banking and Finance at the Mandarin Oriental Singapore, on Tuesday, 25 November 2014, entitled “Aspire. Inspire”. The IBF launched this new certification to recognise industry veterans who have demonstrated mastery of a profession and exemplify thought leadership and commitment to industry development. The “IBF Fellow” is an industry endorsed mark of professional standing.

Once again, wishing all the best for 2015!

Lee Chiwi

Chairperson, STEP (Singapore Branch), 2014-2015

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