Chinese clients are still very interested in moving to the US
Silvia On, registered foreign lawyer at Stephenson Harwood, Hong Kong, also says Chinese clients are more interested in investing in the UK, such as purchasing properties, rather than moving here or sending children here.
What changes do you see in Chinese UHNW immigration to the UK and the US?
Chinese clients are still very interested in moving to the US or sending their children there for education but they are also starting to realise that there are certain US tax implications they need to consider. There is some interest from Chinese clients in the UK but their interest usually relate to investing, such as purchasing properties, rather than moving there or sending children there.
Tell us about your UHNW cases.
Many UHNW have investments around the world or have somewhat complicated family situations, or both, which means they are having to deal with issues ranging from how to structure their investments in a tax efficient manner to who should inherit what and trying to make sure this happens.
What are the issues around succession planning?
We do come across situations where clients may have multiple families. Succession planning is particularly important for these clients because they have to deal with concerns such as ensuring all the family members are financially secure and whether their children from the different wives or girlfriends will litigate to acquire a larger portion of the family wealth. Our litigation team has been involved in a number of cases where there has been litigation involving a dispute between family members over family wealth. These cases tend to happen when the patriarch or matriarch dies and children, both legitimate and illegitimate, start fighting.
What are the gender issues in China at the moment?
There are some people who still favour sons over daughters although this view is slowly changing. Gender does have a place in public debate and it brings awareness of the different issues facing females.
Are you in favour of gender quotas for businesses?
Yes and no. Having a gender quota for business, for example, having a minimum number of women on the board of directors or in roles of senior management would encourage companies and firms to promote women to positions of leadership which is good for the companies and firms. Women bring a different perspective to the table and they can help mentor the younger female employees. However, there is the danger of companies and firms promoting women simply to fill the quota rather than because the person is the best person for the job.
Do you find yourself advising your clients about philanthropy or charitable projects?
Our involvement tends to be advising our client on what structure to use to set up their charities and assisting our clients who are applying for tax exemption status.
What trends do you see in the private client sector?
It is still a relatively new sector in China although it has grown a lot in the past ten years and clients are becoming more sophisticated. The Popular Republic of China is still a relatively immature market for trusts and succession planning. It will take some time for UHNWs and private bankers to grasp these concepts and fully utilise these concepts to help their families to plan, succeed and grow their wealth and preserve it for the next few generations.