60 second interview with Wendy Piergolam, IQ-EQ
Citywealth spoke to Wendy Piergolam, Head of Client Development USA, IQ-EQ on finding her feet in a new role and cheering on fellow female high-achievers.
2 February 2021
I’m the Global Head of Private Wealth at Harneys, which means I oversee the trusts and estate planning work we do from our offices in the Caribbean, London and Asia.
It’s really varied and there’s always something new to keep you on your toes! I deal with clients, intermediaries and lawyers all over the world, so at the moment it’s lots of Zoom calls with people everywhere. Yesterday I did calls with Sao Paulo, Dubai and Hong Kong in one day! The work is a great mix of drafting, technical legal issues and also speaking to clients about the things most personal to them.
Owing to our network of offices in LATAM and the far east, we are often instructed to set up trusts for clients from civil law jurisdictions who are not overly familiar with them. A recent instruction was from a UHNW family in Brazil where the clients were attracted by the flexibility and asset protection benefits of a trust but wanted to reserve excessive powers to themselves due to a misunderstanding and suspicion of how fiduciaries function under common law. The trust holds a number of operating businesses so it was not suitable for the trustee to have all the classic duties of investment, but through careful discussions with the clients and their advisors, involving our colleagues in our Brazil office to deal with any language or cultural issues when discussing such sensitive issues, we were able to agree on a really great structure in which there was appropriate allocation of responsibilities between all power-holders within a trust which offered both effective succession planning and solid asset protection.
It is a difficult time for many clients with the pandemic and the uncertainty that still persists, but with well-crafted trust structures that we have put in place for them, there is always sufficient flexibility to deal with unforeseen events, such as not being able to take up residence in a new country due to travel restrictions. Regular contact with clients and their whole team of advisors allows us to advise on all potential options and ensure that the best outcome is achieved.
I gave some expert witness evidence on Cayman trusts law in relation to a freezing injunction application in another offshore jurisdiction, which was connected to some very high value international litigation. We were only instructed a few days before the application, so there was time pressure, but we managed to get my affidavit done in time and the injunction was awarded at short notice, which was a great win for our client and the team involved.
Although I was born and raised in England, my mother is German and as a German citizen myself, the reunification of the country in 1990 was a major moment in my life, especially because I had relatives in both West and East Germany. I therefore very much admire Rita Sussmuth, who was president of the Bundestag, then the Federal Parliament of West Germany, when the reunification treaty was declared and was very involved in the difficult process of bringing the two countries together as the world was watching.
If I couldn’t take my family (!), it would be a photo of them, the complete DVD collection of Marx brothers’ films and a snorkel mask.
As I teenager I was very keen to be a professional rugby player or a harmonica player in a blues band, but I don’t think I would have been very good at either so I’m glad I ended up in the world of private client!