Sandy Tao Chen serves as Executive Director – Head of Trusts of the First Advisory Group’s Hong Kong branch and its entities. First Advisory Group is a wealth planning group that was founded in Liechtenstein in 1954.
Sandy’s professional career has been split between New York and Hong Kong, having accumulated more than 20 years’ experience in the provision of wealth planning solutions, specializing in asset protection and succession planning. She is a full member of Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, the NYS Certified Public Accountant (CPA) and is a member of AICPA. Below, Sandy speaks to Finance Monthly about First Advisory Group and trust and wealth planning trends in Hong Kong.
Tell us about First Advisory Group and its mission?
First Advisory Group is a leading independent financial services provider with offices in Geneva, Hong Kong, Panama, Singapore, Vaduz and Zurich and has more than 300 experienced employees working around the world to fulfil this commitment. With expertise backed by 62 years’ experience and a diversity of external specialists, the Group offers an independent, one-stop and results focused advisory service for its clients’ wealth management needs.
Furthermore, the Group has formally operated in Hong Kong as a jurisdiction for a number of years, establishing a physical presence in 2010. First Advisory is present and active in all-important financial and business centers worldwide. With its head office in Vaduz, Liechtenstein and further offices in Zurich and Geneva, Switzerland, the Group offers unique locational advantages to its clients, i.e. banking and professional secrecy, highly flexible company law, high legal certainty, high political and economic stability and continuity, highly professional approach to financial services and central location in the heart of Europe.
First Advisory Group offers further attractive locations to its clients in Asia, namely Hong Kong and Singapore, as well as in Central America.
How can trusts be set up and structured in Hong Kong?
- English common law concept;
- One party (Settlor) has a fiduciary arrangement with another party (trustee);
- Settlor transfers legal title of assets to the trustee to hold “in trust”;
- Trustee Holds in trust for the benefit of a third party (beneficiary);
- Protector may be appointed to safeguard interest of beneficiaries.
How can trusts provide tax efficient solutions for clients?
- Minimization of income, estate and inheritance tax;
- Pre-immigration tax planning or planning for returned citizens.
What other wealth planning structures are available in Hong Kong?
At First Advisory, we offer clients diverse and innovative wealth planning services through a single platform. These include international asset structuring by using trusts, foundation and/or corporate solutions. The Group is positioned to deliver a dynamic and sophisticated service, precisely tailored to client needs.
Can trusts be structured in such a way that they can be open to abuse? Which preventative measures can be taken?
Although under the modern trust laws, settlors are given certain powers (i.e. investment power) on the trust, to executive certain investment decisions. The Group’s compliance has taken precautious measures to make sure that we, as a trustee, have the full discretionary power on the trust fund distributions. The investment powers given to the settlors/beneficiaries are only at the limited power of attorney basis. If there is a private company held under the trust structure, one of our Group subsidiaries must act as the director and shareholder of the company. Our compliance department has implemented a strict and powerful system to monitor our clients on an ongoing basis to make sure they are not involved in any legal transactions i.e. money-laundering, drug-tricking, etc.
What makes First Advisory’ services unique when compared to your competitors in Hong Kong?
First Advisory Group offers an independent, one-stop advisory service for our clients’ wealth management needs.
The wealth planning solutions that our Hong Kong office offers are flexible and enduring, aiming at smooth transitions of wealth from generation-to-generation. As all the services derive from one single platform, the Group’s offices can guarantee a seamless and effective solution for our clients. We are one of the very few independent trust companies in Hong Kong that can provide both trust and foundation wealth solutions to high-net-worth clients.
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