STEPPING UP - ISSUE 30 (February 2015)


Chairperson's Message

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 this 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


The Economic Restructuring Story Continues

Budget 2015 marks Singapore’s entry into its second, deeper phrase of economic restructuring. In many ways, there were few new themes as had been expected with Singapore’s 50th birthday this year.

However, the journey of transformation continues. The goal is quality growth, and sharing the fruits of that growth more evenly remains unchanged.

A key component of this year’s Budget has to be the SkillsFuture initiative [READ MORE]

Contributed by: Tay Hong Beng, Head of Tax - KPMG Singapore

A Matter of Trust

A common talking point on my recent stay in Singapore and Hong Kong was the price of accommodation. 
As in both those places, property in London is hugely expensive, and a large proportion of that wealth is owned by those from elsewhere in the world, including the Far East.  

If an unmarried, cohabiting couple from Singapore disagree on the division of a London property on the breakdown of their relationship, English trust law will determine the problem.  

Another common scenario is a married couple who structure the ownership of their English home so that the registered owner is an offshore company.   If the couple divorce in England, again English trust law is engaged in the solution.

Co-habiting Couples: Common Intention Constructive Trusts

The 2007 Supreme Court case of Stack v Dowden introduced a new approach to the division of property owned by a cohabiting couple.  The judgment identified that living together as a couple is an exercise in give and take, mutual co-operation and compromise. The court rejected the formulaic resulting trust approach [READ MORE]

Contributed by: Simon Bruce, Partner - Farrer & Co 

The Foreign Trust AuditTM: Strategic Review of Foreign Trusts with U.S. Beneficiaries or Settlors

Given the rapid evolution around the world concerning tax transparency and for a myriad of other reasons, there is a lot of movement in the foreign trust industry.  Some foreign trust companies have chosen to exit particular jurisdictions and are selling trust portfolios or transitioning their trusts and resigning as trustee. Meanwhile, other foreign trust companies are busily onboarding these trusts and buying portfolios in jurisdictions which other trust companies are exiting. In addition, as many foreign trust companies try to shed trusts with U.S. connections given the onset of “FATCA”, more U.S. friendly foreign trust companies with an eye to developing a niche in this area are buying these very same portfolios.

Purchasers of foreign trust portfolios and foreign trust companies becoming a successor trustee of trusts on a more individualized basis should be warned that many complicated tax issues may be lurking in the history of these trust structures with U.S. beneficiaries or settlors, some not too far below the surface. 

Such issues include identification of the real “grantor” [READ MORE]

Contributed by: Kathryn von Matthiessen, Partner – Cantor & Webb P.A.

“Up Close & Personal” – Interview with Mr. Hugh Ellerton
This section offers members an opportunity to become better acquainted with a STEP member affiliated with the Singapore Branch. Any member interested in being interviewed should contact the STEP (Singapore) Secretariat.
Mr. Hugh Ellerton
Designation & Role in Organisation: EFG Wealth Solutions (Singapore) Limited, Senior Director and Head of Business Development
Years in Trust Industry: I joined STEP at its birth in 1991, but started in the offshore trust industry over 35 years ago 

Getting to know Hugh

The book I am currently reading is ... at home, NAPOLEAN THE GREAT, by Andrew Roberts; in the office, the family trustee’s Bible, “ Help, I’m rich “ by Kees Stoute.

The person(s) who have been my biggest influence is ... My wife and my father, and increasingly my children keep me down to earth.

What I like most about my job/experiences in the trust industry is ... the variety, every client is different, every solution is different; I have seen the best and the worst in human nature and I learn something new every day. I am very often asked to write my memoirs. If I did, I am sure it would be published as fiction

My golden rule is ... I have 2 golden investment rules, First Rule  “don’t lose money” and second rule  “don’t forget the First Rule”.

The business expression I hate most is ... often used to justify an overpriced equity market “It is different this time”.


Upcoming Event(s)

The Jersey Experience – Fourteen Years of Trust Company Regulation and the Impact on the Beneficial Ownership Debate, including Public Registers and the Disclosure of Beneficiaries of Trusts (24th March 2015, 4.00-6.30pm, M Hotel, Anson II Level 2)

The changing landscape of regulation together with international debate on exchange of information, transparency and topical debating issues such as public registers of beneficial ownership all suggest the means to address such matters may include the licensing, regulation and oversight of trust company businesses. 

The Jersey Financial Services Commission (the Commission) has been regulating and supervising trust and company service provider businesses (TCSPs) since 2001 as well as running a central but non-public register of the beneficial ownership of companies and other legal persons. 

In this presentation, the Commission would like to share its experience as a trust company regulator and custodian of a beneficial ownership register, what has worked well and less well and how it sees the potential for such a regulatory framework to provide at least part of the solution to the need for modernising current practice.  

The speakers will thus seek to address current issues and pressures for industry practitioners and jurisdictions including the public register and disclosure debate relating to companies, other legal persons and beneficiaries of trusts.

Thanks to the kind sponsorship of the Jersey Financial Services Commission, STEP Members are invited to attend on a complimentary basis!

Register early to secure your place by completing and faxing the registration form to (65) 31287781 (no 6 prefix) or via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. today!

More Needs to be Done with Your BVI Company Share(s) (14th April 2015, 12.00pm-2.00pm, Intellioffices, 146 Robinson Road, Level 3)

Unfortunately there is not much one can do about death, there are however many options that one should and could consider in order to properly deal with assets when we are no longer alive. As uncomfortable as this may be everyone who owns shares in a British Virgin Islands (BVI) company should consider what they want to happen to those shares when they are no longer around or if they become unable to look after matters for themselves.

The topic will more specifically look at succession in general and the pitfalls people find themselves and how to avoid this. Planning options that will be considered in more detail are the appointment of a Reserve director, Joint Tenancy, Wills and Trusts under BVI Law.

Register early to secure your place by completing and faxing the registration form to (65) 31287781 (no 6 prefix) or via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. today!


STEP Qualifications Framework – 2015 Courses available in Singapore
STEP Certificate and Diploma in International Trust Management
(£1525 (Certificate), £1575 (Diploma))

Course Enrolment Closing Date Face-to-Face Examination Date
Certificate 10 April 2015 28 September – 01 October 2015 02 October 2015
Trust Creation Law and Practice 28 November 2015 04 – 07 April 2016 08 April 2016
Company Law and Practice 15 May 2015  07 – 10 September 2015 11 September 2015
Trust Administration & Accounts 13 November 2015 07 – 10 March 2016 11 March 2016
Trustee Investment and Financial Appraisal 02 October 2015 15 – 18 February 2016 19 February 2016

CLT International will be holding an Induction Session on the 31 March 2015 to introduce the STEP Certificate and Diploma in International Trust Management programme and provide an overview of the course materials and methodology to those presently enrolled or interested in enrolling. If you know of anyone that might be interested in attending, please ask them to contact CLT International on This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for further details.

For more information, please click HERE.
STEP Advanced Certificate in UK Tax for International Clients
(£845 plus UK VAT if applicable (£795 plus UK VAT if applicable for STEP members))
A very topical and popular 5-month fully online course for lawyers, accountants, tax advisors, trust officers and those in financial services who need a more detailed understanding of their UK-connected international clients’ tax position.

Enrolment Closing Date Examination Date
01 June 2015 27 November 2015

For more information, please click HERE.

STEP Advanced Certificate in Trust Disputes

(£695 plus UK VAT if applicable (£645 plus UK VAT if applicable for STEP members))
Past participants have praised the exceptionally clear and comprehensive manual for this course, which was designed to help busy practitioners to anticipate, and thereby avoid, the common pitfalls leading to trust litigation. This 4-month fully online course will be of interest to anyone involved in the creation and administration of trusts or giving advice in relation to trusts.

Assignment Title Release Assignment Submission Date
29 July 2015 30 November 2015

For more information, please click HERE.

STEP Certificate in Foundations

(£795 plus UK VAT if applicable (£745 plus UK VAT if applicable for STEP members)).
Private foundation legislation has been introduced at a pace in both common-law and civil-law jurisdictions – this 4-month fully online course will help professionals in the wealth management industry understand the evolution of the Foundation, its uses and how it should be set up and administered competently.

Enrolment Closing Date Examination Date
10 July 2015 06 November 2015

For more information, please click HERE.

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