Melanie Ison and Trust and Fiduciary Services in Hong Kong

By Melanie Ison, Nerine Group of Fiduciaries Hong Kong Managing Director Originally from Guernsey in the Channel Islands, I started in the trust and fiduciary sector in 1998. I worked for a large South African bank-owned trust company in Guernsey for eight and a half years before making the move to Hong Kong in June […]

By Melanie Ison, Nerine Group of Fiduciaries Hong Kong Managing Director

Originally from Guernsey in the Channel Islands, I started in the trust and fiduciary sector in 1998. I worked for a large South African bank-owned trust company in Guernsey for eight and a half years before making the move to Hong Kong in June 2007 where I joined a large global bank-owned trust company. From there I moved to Nerine in 2008, and took over the running of the Hong Kong office in 2011 with formal appointment as managing director in 2015.

The Nerine Group of Fiduciaries core business is bespoke succession and wealth structuring for global High-Net-Worth (HNW) and ultra HNW families.

Guernsey is a leading jurisdiction for succession planning so it was natural for me after finishing my education to move into this interesting sector. When I started in the industry, I quickly realised that succession planning for individuals and families exposed me to a wide range of issues and circumstances. It is a varied area of wealth management and has a genuine impact on people’s lives; getting it right for a family is rewarding. Being able to apply my experience and expertise in structuring appropriately for families brings a lot of satisfaction. There is an assumption that we deal solely with financial assets but that’s just not the case. We have the capabilities to deal with real property, family businesses and unique assets as well as facilitating family discussions and managing issues; family governance matters are becoming an increasing part of what our clients need from us.

From a Nerine perspective, my key responsibilities in Asia include overseeing the growth of the business in this region and ensuring Nerine’s brand remains strong in the region. Nerine has an enviable reputation for working with the best professionals in the best interests of our clients throughout Asia. I have been significantly involved in ensuring Nerine is synonymous with expertise and knowledge, and am pleased to say we are trusted by our clients and have grown both our staff numbers and our business presence and recognition throughout Asia.

It is through our trusted relationships, and our ability to tailor bespoke solutions to each client’s needs and expertise that we succeed. Trust and fiduciary specialists should give the right advice and implement the right solutions, so families can ensure they’re as well prepared as possible to preserve and enhance their wealth for the next generation and beyond.

At Nerine, we help families to get the right professionals involved to address their broad financial and familial needs. We anticipate issues and put in place good family governance, appropriate ownership structures and excellent corporate governance for their circumstances; it’s not an overnight process and taking shortcuts can have disastrous consequences.

Ineffective succession planning can cause a family business to shut down overnight. There is significant case law in Asia which can all too often make this a reality. One of the best known, and widely publicised, of these cases was the famous Yung Kee Restaurant and the founding Kam family. The case ended up in Hong Kong’s Court of Final Appeal and caused a bitter family feud because expectations were not managed and family members had differing views which had not been clearly defined or planned for in prior discussions. Cases like this are increasing as families become more international and generations think differently from one another; they help us as responsible fiduciary specialists to hone of expertise and avoid pitfalls.

Cultural sensitivities must be taken into account, particularly in the area of family wealth and business  where  the younger generations may have been schooled elsewhere and don’t hold the same traditional values and visions as their parents or may not feel the same sense of legacy towards the family business and wealth.

Asian HNW individuals and families continue to grow in number and wealth. Their needs, and those of the generations to follow them, will evolve and develop as they lead increasingly global lives with varied interests. It is those fiduciary experts that fully immerse themselves in the region, who are able to cater to the varied demands and respect the traditions, while keeping abreast of developments within the sector, who will win the trust of clients looking to ensure their legacy is secure and successfully passed on  to the next generations.

Nerine Trust Company (Hong Kong) Limited
Suite 1703
17th Floor Central Plaza
18 Harbour Road
Wanchai
Hong Kong
Tel: +852 3125 1200Fax: +852 2537 7624
Melanie.Ison@nerine.com.hk

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