STEPPING UP - ISSUE 29 (12 December 2014)
Chairperson's Message

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

Complex Tax Structures: The Future Of Tax Planning Against A Background Of Changes In Government Policies And Public Opinion
Contributed by: Nicholas Jacob - Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co LLP, London & Singapore
The climate in respect of tax planning has changed significantly internationally over the last few years. Tax avoidance, which used to be seen to be acceptable, is generally becoming unacceptable, and it is unclear in many jurisdictions what is permissible in terms of tax mitigation and tax planning.  Gone are the days, in higher tax jurisdictions, where schematic planning has been the order of the day, and more jurisdictions are enacting general anti-avoidance rules.  The UK has recently introduced a general anti-abuse rule; this is designed to prevent the use of abusive tax arrangements, which are fairly clearly defined.  However the uncertainty to which this gives rise, and the caveats of professionals having to put on to any advice given, is far from satisfactory in the area of uncertainty.

We appear to be in a regime of what is moral is all that is acceptable.  Going, also, are the days when a literal interpretation can be given to legislation.  We are now obliged to consider a purposive approach, notwithstanding that the legislation may be drafted inadequately or incompetently. There is no excuse for drafting not being done properly, and this includes proper consultation on proposed legislation.

European Union Succession Regulation (EU) No 650/2012 - 17 August 2015 Will Soon Be Here
Contributed by: Richard Frimston TEP - Russell-Cooke Solicitors, Solicitor and Notary Public, London
Different states have had completely different private international law rules (“PIL”) for succession. 
The Succession Regulation (EU) No 650/2012 (“SR”) has attempted to harmonise PIL for succession throughout the EU without having too significant effect on the internal succession laws of EU Member States. The SR entered into force on 17 August 2012, although most of it will not become fully effective until 17 August 2015.

Opt ins:

Because of clawback and other matters, the UK and Irish Governments exercised their right not to opt in to the SR, but the SR will, however, still apply to assets situated in most EU Member States (“the SR Zone” - all EU Member States other than Denmark, Ireland and the United Kingdom) and to the succession of persons dying habitually resident there. If Singapore PIL, applies the law of an SR Zone State, because the deceased dies domiciled there or has immovable assets there, then Singapore will apply the SR to those assets. The SR will govern the PIL for succession in the SR Zone, not only between States within it, but also between them and States outside it.

Thus, the provisions of the SR, including those governing choice of law, are vital for all practitioners to understand.

Weaving Philanthropy Into The Family Business
Contributed by: Kecia Barkawi - VALUEworks AG, Zurich and Paul Stibbard - Rothschild, London
When thinking of philanthropy we usually picture the grey-haired, wise patriarch who inherited and increased a fortune created over generations, or stepped into a long tradition of family giving. In the business context, most of us have come across stories of corporate foundations, the grant-making vehicles of large, publicly traded corporations, for example Ronald McDonald Houses, the Goldman Sachs Foundation, the Coca Cola Foundation or However, what about philanthropy alongside the privately held family businesses? In the following we share successful case studies and draw some conclusions for effective giving in the family business context. 

Family businesses, CSR and Philanthropy:

The most recent European Family Business Barometer published by KPMG and EFB in December 2013 reports that despite Europe’s economic setbacks in the past years, European family businesses retain a positive outlook toward the future and are confident about their companies’ economic situation. In fact, the report show that the family businesses surveyed are optimistically focused on investments “traditionally associated with longer term rewards”, such as internationalisation, diversification and R&D activities to develop their core business.

“Up Close & Personal” – Interview with Ms. Britta Pfister
This section offers members an opportunity to become better acquainted with a STEP member affiliated with the Singapore Branch. 
Ms. Britta Pfister
Designation & Role in Organisation: MD Rothschild Trust (Singapore) Ltd, Head of Wealth Planning Asia Pacific
Years in Trust Industry: 15 

Getting to know Britta

The book I am currently reading is ... The Silkworm, by Robert Galbraith, aka J.K. Rowling, a brilliant example of an author who effortlessly switches genre.

The person(s) who have been my biggest influence is ... My maternal grandmother who fled all through Europe in the second world war with three kids under 8. She was a true guiding spirit to me, as well as a treasure trove of words of practical wisdom.

What I like most about my job/experiences in the trust industry is ... Dealing with the mix of technical, legal, structural problem solving and the never ending psychological complexities of international families.

My golden rule is ... Getting enough sleep.

The business expression I hate most is ... It’s not my fault, … (It’s X’s).

Upcoming Event(s)
"So you're FATCA registered...  Now what do you do?" (10 February 2015, 12.00-2.00pm, FTSE Room, Level 9, Capital Tower)
With the FATCA registration rush behind us (or almost), it is now time to start thinking about the next FATCA deadline:  31 March 2015.  What, and who, will need to be reported by then? 
By 31 March 2015, all Foreign Financial Institutions ('FFIs') that intend to comply with FATCA will need to provide information to the appropriate FATCA competent authorities with respect to any "US owned accounts."  Fiduciaries and advisors will therefore need to understand whether the structures that they administer are owned by US individuals or entities, and if so, what information they will need to provide to the competent authorities regarding the entities or their owners.  This can be a challenge when dealing with multi-layered structures involving trusts, foundations, nominees, holding companies, etc.
This seminar is aimed at fiduciaries and advisors in the private wealth industry who want to understand how FATCA reporting operates at each level of a complex wealth holding structure, by looking specifically at:

Areas of discussion include:
  • How to identify "ownership" through trust and foundation structures;
  • What information needs to be reported when US ownership exists; and
  • How to facilitate FATCA reporting for clients, including options for "strategic" classification to preserve privacy and confidentiality.
Register early to secure your place by completing and faxing the registration form to (65) 31287781 (no 6 prefix) or via e-mail, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., by 3 February 2015!
Chinese New Year “Lo Hei” Lunch (Beng Thin Hoon Kee Restaurant #65 Chulia Street #05-02 OCBC Centre, 26th February 2015, 12.00pm - 2.00pm)
STEP Singapore is pleased to invite you to its 4th Chinese New Year luncheon-cum-networking event over set lunch and “Prosperity Lo Hei”, plus a chance to network with fellow STEP members and industry practitioners.

Beng Thin is one of the few remaining traditional restaurants that offer authentic Hokkien cuisines. Savour the delectable traditional spread of sumptuous Hokkien dishes. This is a restaurant with a well-established history and many loyal customers. It has served food through generations.

Register early to secure your place by completing and faxing the registration form to (65) 31287781 (no 6 prefix) or via e-mail, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., by 19 February 2015!
Post Event Update: Giving Back (20th November 2014, 12.00-2.00pm, Intellioffices, Level 3, 146 Robinson Road, S 068909)
Contributed by:  Ms Cathryn Lau: Director, UBS AG
The seminar was organized as a panel discussion with Cathryn Lau (Director, UBS AG and STEP  Committee Member) as moderator. The panel speakers comprised of Ms Jean Sung (Head of  Philanthropy Centre, J.P. Morgan Private Bank, Asia), Ms Irina Francken (Member of Philanthropy  Advisory Steering Committee, a Special Interest Group of STEP) and Ms Dawn Quek (Principal,  Baker & Mckenzie Wong & Leow). Every one of us gives back to the society in one way or another. We give because it makes us feel  good about ourselves (an innate human need) knowing we have helped someone or contributed to a  worthy cause along the way. The rising affluence in Asia coupled with the interest in structured giving  have resulted in many private families wanting to go on the path of philanthropy. The seminar on  "Giving Back" was thus aimed at understanding these families and sharing the considerations involved in establishing their own philanthropy vehicles through the experience of the panel speakers.

Your Contribution Can Help Achieve a Solution for Families with Loved One of Special Needs
Contributed by: Elaine Goh - Community Engagement Manager-Special Needs Trust Company Limited
The Special Needs Trust Company (SNTC), begun in 2008, was conceived to safeguard the welfare and financial security of people with special needs upon the demise of their caregivers.

Supported by the Ministry of Social and Family Development (MSF), SNTC is the only non-profit trust company in Singapore providing affordable trust services to the community of people with special needs.

In the sharing of our trust scheme, parents and caregivers from lower income families have recognized the need for a trust infrastructure to receive and manage their future assets such as proceeds from the sale of their HDB property, monies from their CPF savings and insurance policies in the event of their passing. Many however, realize that it is challenging for them at present to set aside $5,000 to open the trust account given their current financial situation.
A Recap of the Events Held by STEP (Singapore) in 2014
Date Event Title Venue

20 Nov 2014
12.00 - 2.00pm

Giving Back Intellioffices, Level 3, 146 Robinson Road, S(068909)

1 Oct 2014
12.00 - 2.00pm

Pitfalls of Family Trusts and Family Investment Holding Company/Family Business Companies Intellioffices, Level 11, 146 Robinson Road, S(068909)

1 Sept 2014
12.30 - 2.00pm

Eschewing Neutrality - Trustees' Duties when faced with Adversed Claims to Trust Assets Intellioffices, Level 3, 146 Robinson Road, S(068909)

31 July 2014
11.30am - 2.00pm

International Succession of Estates M Hotel, 81 Anson Road, S(079908)

26 June 2014
3.45 - 5.45pm

Succession to Family Businesses - Are we prepared? Intellioffices, 146 Robinson Road S(068909)

27 May 2014
4.00 - 6.00pm

Networking Session featuring "An Introduction to the STEP Advanced Certificate in Family Business Advising" Intellioffices, 146 Robinson Road S(068909)

26 May 2014
9.15am - 4.30pm

STEP-SMU Symposium Symposium on "Recent Issues in Private Wealth and Trust Law" SMU, Admin Building,
Mochtar Riady Auditorium,
Level 5, 81 Victoria Street,

30 April 2014
12.00 - 2.00pm

Recent developments on tax avoidance in Singapore - the landmark decision in Comptroller of Income Tax v AQQ Intellioffices, 146 Robinson Road S(068909)

18 March 2014
12.00 - 2.00pm

Investment Risk Management - A Trustee’s Perspective FTSE Room, Level 9,
Capital Tower

10 February 2014,
12.15 - 2.00pm

An “East-Meets-West” Chinese New Year “Lo Hei” Lunch Chef d’ Table,
#01-29 Chijmes
10 January 2014,
New Frontiers of Automatic Exchange of Information and Anti-Money Laundering Rules STI Auditorium, Level 9,
Capital Tower


Events Calendar

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