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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