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AEPP® Certification can bridge the talent gap in estate planning in Hong Kong

1. Can you tell us more about EPP HK?

Incorporated in Hong Kong in June this year, EPP HK extends the services of EPPL beyond its current geographical scope in Singapore, Indonesia and Malaysia to service the needs of the dynamic Hong Kong market. EPP HK is an education platform that seeks to equip financial services practitioners in the Hong Kong market through the AEPP® certification programme, which focuses not only on the imparting of knowledge in estate and succession planning, but also on its practical application.

Besides training, EPP HK will also provide trust advisory services to complement the education services. This combination of services makes EPP HK unique as it allows the financial services practitioners who have completed the AEPP® certification programme to tap the trust advisory services that are tailored to their or their clients’ specific needs, enhancing overall professionalism. While the majority shareholder of EPP HK is Estate Planning Practitioners Limited in Singapore, the trust advisory services will be carried out independently. We are also in the process of applying for the Trust and Corporate Services Provider licence in Hong Kong.

2. What potential do you see in starting the AEPP® certification programme in Hong Kong?

The Hong Kong trust industry is facing a talent gap, according to the Hong Kong Trust Industry Report 2021 by KPMG and the HK Trustee Association. Over the past few years, there have been ongoing developments to raise the level of professionalism and competence in the industry. The Trust and Corporate Service Provider licensing regime launched in 2018 was part of efforts to heighten professionalism. In the same year, the Hong Kong Trustee Association embarked on an accreditation programme on the Trust Training Certificate to achieve the same goals and the programme has been well received by industry practitioners who are keen to upgrade the skills of their workforce.

I believe the AEPP® certification programme can help to close the talent gap by contributing to the nurturing of talent and the building of relevant estate planning skills. I see the potential for growth of the AEPP® certification programme in the Hong Kong market, specially when the wealth planning and trust industry has shown resilience amid the challenging environment.

The trust industry in Hong Kong continues to grow, according to the Asia Wealth Management Activities Survey by the Securities and Futures Commission published in July 2021, registering a 17% year-on-year increase as of December 2020, bringing AUM to US$578 billion while the wealth and asset management business grew 21% year-on-year with AUM reaching US$4,505 billion.

Having a presence in the Hong Kong market also allows EPP HK to capture growth opportunities in the Greater Bay Area (GBA), with the opening up of the financial services industry in China, like the recent launch of GBA Wealth Connect. The AEPP® certification programme in Hong Kong could benefit from the potential demand for skills upgrade training and development driven by rising private wealth and growing interest in private trusts in the local market as well as in the North Asia region.

3. What is your biggest challenge given the current situation in Hong Kong?

All forays into new markets have one thing in common – a steep learning curve. I expect EPP HK to face similar challenges including, amongst others, fierce competition and limited funding. The biggest challenge at the moment is the lack of recognition of AEPP® certification in this region. While the AEPP® certification programme has witnessed healthy and steady growth over the past few years in Southeast Asia, it remains relatively unknown to financial services practitioners here. Creating awareness of the AEPP® certification programme and the value it offers will be a crucial step for EPP HK to gain foothold in the new market.

4. What are your plans for the AEPP® certification programme in Hong Kong?

The AEPP® certification programme consists of various modules covering different topics and jurisdictions. For the launch in Hong Kong, a course programme tailored to the Hong Kong market was designed by our trainer who has diverse and extensive experience in the practical field. Going forward, the plan is to roll out the other modules in Hong Kong as well as continuously develop the programme to
ensure its relevance and usefulness to the AEPP® designees and to upgrade the skills of the workforce in the trust industry in Hong Kong.

We also aim to tap the Continuing Education Fund in Hong Kong (similar to IBF-FTS funding) to help grow the business and boost the recognition the AEPP® certification programme. Additionally, we would like to increase the level of interaction in AEPP® communities across different countries and strengthen the network.

5. What advice can you offer to financial services practitioners who want to be or are practicing in Hong Kong?

Fruitful and fulfilling opportunities await you, but opportunities always favour those who are well prepared. So, equip yourself well.

Cindy Wong

Director, Estate Planning Practitioners (HK) Limited (EPP HK)
B.Bus, MBA, AEPP®, STEP Affiliate

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What family offices need to know about the changes to Sections 13O and 13U

Edwin Leow and Shaun Zheng of Nexia TS Tax Services assess the new criteria for family offices introduced by the MAS in Singapore

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) recently announced new stricter criteria for family offices to receive tax incentives in Singapore. The new rules came into effect on 18 April 2022, whereby funds that are managed and/ or advised directly by a family office which is:

  1. An exempt fund management company which manages assets for or on behalf of the family(ies); and
  2. Is wholly owned or controlled by members of the same family(ies),

must meet the updated conditions, applicable to Section 13O and Section 13U of the Income Tax Act of 1947, and are set out below:

Before the introduction of these new conditions, there was no requirement for a Resident Fund to have a minimum AUM and minimum number of investment professionals. Further, there was no requirement for both the Resident Fund and Enhanced-Tier Fund to invest in local investments previously.

Although these appear to be an additional set of stringent requirements being introduced, it is not inconceivable as Singapore continues to see more family offices being set up. With the city-state now firmly rooted as the leading destination of choice for family offices, the Government can afford to further refine conditions to help meet other broader policy objectives.

For example, the measures on minimum business spend and hiring will help stimulate the local economy, create new jobs and further raise professionalism in the asset management industry. Also, to continue defending its position as the country of choice, the local investment requirement will help to further shine a light and/ or serve as indicator as to whether the family offices are committed to invest in Singapore talent and local investments, coupled with the inimum AUM requirement, which should serve as an effective filter to exclude those families who do not wish to or do not want to grow their AUM, and are using Singapore as a safe harbour for a portion of family wealth.

It is expected that family offices will soon acclimatise to these additional requirements even if there is still intense competition among regional financial centres for investor dollars. Singapore’s political stability, economic progress and first-in-class healthcare facilities and education system, among others, should continue to triumph and be at the top of mind as these HNW individuals go about planning and safeguarding their private wealth and legacy.

Edwin Leow

Director, Head of Tax
Nexia TS Tax Services Pte. Ltd.

Shaun Zheng

Director, Private Wealth and Asset Management Tax Lead
Nexia TS Tax Services Pte. Ltd.

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Covid-19

NOTICE TO PRECEPTSGROUP CLIENTS AND FRIENDS

COVID-19 UPDATES FOR POST CIRCUIT BREAKER MEASURES FROM 2ND JUNE 2020 ONWARDS

WE CONTINUE TO SERVE YOU

All our services shall continue to be available.

Our Estate and Succession Practitioners will be able to provide one-to-one Estate Planning Consultation via phone/video call on the following matters:

  • Will Writing & Attestation
  • Trust Set Up
  • Execution of Lasting Power of Attorney

We welcome any enquiries. Hence, for clients who need Estate Planning Services, please contact us at:

Main Line: 62218633

Email: contactus@preceptsgroup.com

 

Do take note the measures we have put in place:

All meetings conducted at our office are strictly by appointments only. PreceptsGroup reserve the right to accept, postpone, cancel, or deny any visits to our office.

All visitors are required to wear a face mask, as well as log into SafeEntry and TraceTogether mobile application while within the premises.

Any visitors who are unwell in any way will not be allowed into our premises.

All representatives will be required to wear both a face mask AND face shield for all face to face appointments with clients.

 

We look forward to providing estate planning solutions to you while we continue to serve the community at large.

Most of all, take care, stay safe and connected.

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Thoughts from Lee Chiwi, CEO of PreceptsGroup International

As I reflected upon the article, it connected with what we at PreceptsGroup do for our clients.

At the National level, the government unveiled the unprecedented $60.1 billion COVID-related measures ($55 billion under Unity and Resilience Budges and additional $5.1 billion Solidarity Budget) to help everyone here in Singapore, practically anyone who has a stake here. The ability of the Singapore government to do this and probably reasonably unique compared to other counties had to do with the building and setting aside of past reserves over the years through prudent spending. The tapping on the reserves was in anticipation that someday, Singapore might need it in a crisis such as the present pandemic. This unlocking of the reserves requires the sanction of the President, so there are checks and controls. In Singapore, we are fortunate to have our reserves held in a “mega trust fund” which operates at the national level when difficulties arise.

What we are experiencing now nationally, has its parallel with the trust structure that we set up for families. This is the part that many clients do to create reserves at the family unit level.

In the Straits Times on 27 Mar2020, one of the articles of a columnist’s headline read “No more denying the importance of having deep reserves”.

Over the life of the trust, the surplus of the family’s wealth is set aside and the initial trust fund is built up. Income of the trust fund is accumulated and this is added to the family fund as a reserve and resources for the rainy day. When the rainy day comes along which impact the lives of the family members, that is the time when the reserves are needed. The unlocking comes with the trustee and the protector giving consent to the draw down of the funds to assist the family member in many scenarios of adversity-loss of job, inability to work, medical illness and emergencies, creditor attack, loss of menta capacity etc.

Today the pandemic is very much on our minds and with government intervention, we are all fortunate and many of us will ride through the crisis. But what future crisis lurks round the corner? How should we brace ourselves and our family members for such future uncertainties? A takeaway for families is that we should all do our part to create that family reserve for the future rainy day. Set up your family trust if you have not done so! At PreceptsGroup, “Leaving precepts for families” is what we do to help clients with their legacy plans.

In the meantime, stay healthy!”

At a time when many people are staying home, many are thinking of their family matters, in particular what happens to their loved ones in unfortunate circumstances. This period is when their estate and succession plans take centre stage.

However, with the advent of technology, people are likely to take the easy route of doing their Wills online, giving them a false sense of security.

What they do not realise is “If you make any mistakes whilst writing your Will and you don’t realise before you’re able to write a new one, there could be questions regarding your intentions or problems executing your Will when you’ve died. This may result in your estate not being distributed how you would have liked which could easily cause unnecessary problems and upset for your loved ones during what will undoubtedly be a difficult time.

Given the complexity of modern families, a simple or DIY Will may not be suitable. We always say there is no one-size fits-all when it comes to Wills so we recommend in all cases to seek the advice and the services of a professional to ensure that your wishes are correctly recorded.”

At the same time, Wills Disputes are on the rise, with many claims that the Will has failed to make reasonable provisions.

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The Custodian – PreceptGroup Newsletter

CEO Message:

After establishing the Rockwills Singapore Group of Companies in 2008 for more than 12 years, I had the opportunity to execute a management buyout in September 2019. It was a harmonious exercise as the acquisition was amicable and the relationship remains strong with Rockwills Malaysia Group of companies. I am director of Rockwills Trustee Bhd and some of the current directors continue to serve on both of the group’s boards. Together we have a sizeable pool of mutual clients appointing our respective Trustee companies as the Executor and Trustee for their Estates.

With the acquisition, we also took the opportunity to rebrand ourselves and in the process take stock of the business and, our directions for the future. The brand had to reflect the core values that our company serves in helping our clients create legacies for their families. The meaning of “Precepts” resonates with our business as a Precept refers to a rule, directive or principle, that guides one’s actions. It could be the words to live by and to help guide one in making a decision. Using legal structures and estate planning tools, we help our clients establish the guiding posts for their future generations to live and build on and maintain their core family values.

In the past ten years, we have established very good foundations in the estate planning and trust administration industry. In this issue, our team will share about how we have helped several families resolve challenging estate administration cases. We are committed to share these experiences so that our clients can avoid painful mistakes that could break up family relationships and cause anxiety.

One of our visions is to continue to expand the core expertise of the Estate Planning industry so as to bring legacy planning services to a wider pool of clients, including mass affluent, and High net worth clients. We believe that we must share our expertise and develop our network regionally as the whole region also face aging population challenges. We are also determined to invest and maximize technology in our services and work.

It is an exciting period of growth for our company and we are ever thankful to our clients and partners who share our journey together so far. We thank you for your trust in us and we shall continue to strive to be a game changer in Estate & Succession planning for you as well as the industry.

By Lee Chiwi
– CEO, PreceptsGroup