A Matter of Wealth

Internationally experienced lawyers Thierry Boitelle and Julien Dif talk about the importance of asset planning and wealth management among other issues prevalent in today’s financial climate

 

WHAT’S THE GENERAL DEMOGRAPHIC OF YOUR CLIENTELE?

Thierry Boitelle: My clients are predominantly corporates and wealthy individuals moving to Switzerland. Traditionally, they come from high taxed jurisdictions such as Scandinavia, the US, Netherlands, Belgium, the UK, and France. Today, we see more and more interest from Eastern Europe and Russia, India, China, Brazil, East Africa, and the GCC region. Julien Dif: My clients include large asset banks, fund distributors, and high net-worth individuals structuring part of their wealth through investment fund vehicles, family offices, and trust companies.

 

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MOST IMPORTANT RULES OF ASSET PLANNING?

TB: Before worrying about taxation, clients need to think first about asset protection and safe and sound investment. I can help them with their tax worries and estate planning concerns. In today’s world, being tax compliant is an important rule of asset planning, because failure to do so can be costly..

 

JD: In my view, the most important rules of asset planning are the following:

• Tax compliance.

• Careful choice of the right structure depending on family circumstances.

• Close relationship with, and thorough knowledge of, the families the firm is hired to advise and their specific circumstances.

• Asset planning is about correcting potential past mistakes, looking after the clients’ present situation but mostly about structuring for the future and the transfer of wealth through generations.

 

BASED ON YOUR EXPERIENCE, HOW WELLINFORMED WOULD YOU SAY PEOPLE ARE ABOUT WEALTH AND FINANCES BEFORE THEY COME TO SEE YOU?

TB: Most of my clients are financially savvy and often more than I am. Many of them have accumulated levels of wealth that are beyond the reach of a simple tax lawyer. So, obviously they are both well-informed and financially successful. But not every client is well-informed about taxation, so I am happy can at least help them on that front.

 

JD: Based on my experience, I would say that my clients have little knowledge of their own situation and the potential dangers ahead. They are aware of the necessity to structure their wealth going forward but have very little experience of how to go about it.

 

WHAT ARE SOME OF THE MOST COMMON PROBLEMS THAT CLIENTS COME TO YOU WITH?

TB: Generally, my clients are concerned about taxation of their investments in the source countries and the level of taxation in their residence countries, if any. Today, many of my clients also ask for advice about estate planning, transferring wealth to the next generations, and in particular about preserving privacy and security in an ever more transparent world. We also receive more and more clients who want to voluntarily disclose assets and income they omitted from their previous tax returns. With FATCA and automatic exchange of information in force, governments have extremely powerful tools to fight tax evasion and many people prefer to announce themselves before the taxman knocks on their door.

 

JD: Most of my clients have been misadvised and have a general distrust in the banking system. A lot of the work we do is linked to reassuring them and assisting them in changing previous situations which are no longer suited to their present circumstances.

 

DO YOU THINK THE YOUNGER GENERATION OF PROFESSIONALS ARE MANAGING THEIR FINANCES BETTER AND MAKING A MORE SECURE FUTURE? IF NOT, THEN WHAT DO THEY NEED TO DO MORE?

TB: Typically, the younger generation is more entrepreneurial and less risk-averse I would say. With the client’s age, his or her concerns about preservation of wealth but also the transfer thereof increase. With today’s fiscal issues and security concerns, I would advise the younger generation to do more about planning for the future.

 

JD: The younger generations are often more aware of the issues at hand, notably in terms of voluntary disclosures and tax compliance generally. They have seen how the previous generations had been advised in the past and understand that many of the past structures or reactions were no longer relevant. They tend to be more forward-looking.

 

WHAT ACCORDING TO YOU ARE THE MOST FAILSAFE WAYS FOR PEOPLE TO PROTECT THEIR WEALTH?

TB: Apart from the obvious safe investing and risk spreading, I would say that people should avoid disputes if possible. And if a dispute arises, people should quickly manage it and not hesitate to revert to modern dispute resolution techniques such as mediation. Most of the wealth destruction I have seen with my clients stems from family or business disputes, some of whom even resulted in bankruptcies.

 

JD: The safest way for people to protect their wealth is the choice of the right structure which is exactly suited to their circumstances. The key is to not give in to advisers selling the flavor of the month, but rather to carry out a thorough review of what is available in compliant jurisdictions and to look closely at the assets of each individual.

 

About Bonnard Lawson:

Founded in 1998, Bonnard Lawson is a multinational law firm with a multilingual team of lawyers qualified in various jurisdictions. Depending on the case, the firm will provide a tailor-made service of either a team or a single specialist. Thierry Boitelle and Julien Dif are both partners in the firm. Thierry is a member of the American Bar Association, the International Fiscal Association, and the Swiss American Chamber of Commerce among other distinguished collectives. He advises clients in fields such as International tax law, private client services, and arts & intellectual property. Julien is a member of the bar associations of both Luxembourg and Geneva as well as a legal consultant for The Government of Dubai Legal Affairs Department. He regularly advises promoters of foreign collective investment schemes on all Swiss legal and regulatory aspects relating to the public distribution and private placement of such products. He also frequently collaborates with the Swiss Financial Market Supervisory Authority FINMA and conducts the necessary procedures for the maintenance of all required authorizations.

 

 

 

 

 

Related



Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *






SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTER