The Guernsey delegation in Hong Kong is making itself heard against the backdrop of political protests on the streets and competitor jurisdictions at the STEP Asia conference.
Guernsey Finance – the promotional agency for the Island’s finance industry – is once again one of the lead sponsors of the event, which is the main wealth management conference held in the region.
Fiona Le Poidevin (pictured), chief executive of Guernsey Finance, says: “The conference is extremely busy despite the fact that there are still protests on the streets. The main issue is the heavy traffic due to road closures and diversions so it is a case of allowing extra time for meetings and taking the packed subway rather than taxis but there have only been minor delays so far.”
Le Poidevin has been joined on the Guernsey Finance exhibition stand by Guernsey Finance’s China representative, Wendy Weng, as well as representatives from Barclays, Butterfield, Cazenove, Fides and Ogier.
David Sussman from Barclays spoke on the first day of the conference about how in the current environment the key differentiator for fiduciaries is being able to offer compliant, transparent and credible structures supported by experienced legal and accountancy firms.
This followed the key themes of the day which were transparency, privacy versus automatic exchange of information and increasing compliance. Compliance has been discussed in relation to measures such as the US’ Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), the OECD’s Common Reporting Standard (CRS) and proposals for public registers of beneficial ownership.
On the second day, Marcus Leese from Ogier in Guernsey and colleague Nigel Sanders from Ogier in Jersey provided the conference with an international case update covering several jurisdictions.
Other attendees at the conference included representatives from Guernsey-based firms Appleby, Ardel, Collas Crill, First Names, Louvre, Mourant Ozannes, RBC and Virtus.
Le Poidevin says: “There is a strong Guernsey presence, especially compared to many of our competitor jurisdictions, and we have had a lot of inquiries so it will be interesting to see how this translates into business for the island’s wealth management practitioners at the event.
“One of the final sessions of day one focused on China and highlighted its increased engagement on international issues, including the combating of tax evasion by Chinese nationals. This is something which the Guernsey delegation will be able pick up when we are in China next week and, in particular, we will be able showcase our high standards of tax transparency and regulation of financial services business.”
Le Poidevin and Weng will be joined next week by Kevin Stewart, Guernsey’s Minister for Commerce and Employment, Mark Oliphant, media manager at Guernsey Finance, and several financial services practitioners, to promote the island’s offering in mainland China.
During the week, Guernsey Finance is hosting a private wealth event in Shanghai and an investment funds seminar in Beijing. The first is the Guernsey private wealth event, which takes place on 14 October in Shanghai where panellists will include Alan Chick, the chairman of Richmond Fiduciary Group, and Mark Huntley, a director of Heritage Group.