Mark Farrell, Head of Trust in Singapore at Butterfield speaks to Citywealth’s April French Furnell following his recent appointment to discuss life in Singapore and the generational divide in Asia.
Tell us about your recent appointment
I recently joined Butterfield as Head of Trust in Singapore, after a career spanning three decades in the trust and wealth planning industry across the globe. I am thrilled to have been entrusted with this role as we look to substantially grow our footprint in Asia and continuously strengthen our product offerings and services.
What’s life like in Singapore currently?
Thanks to the foresight and decisive action taken by the government, COVID has been largely kept in check and the situation is steadily improving. Life here feels semi-normal - we are able to go to the office, visit restaurants and shops as well as meet friends in small groups. Despite missing international travel, I have been exploring local gems such as the botanical gardens and Pulau Ubin during my surprisingly enjoyable ‘staycations’.
Tell us about a recent client instruction?
I am currently advising a global, multi-generational family on their succession planning. With considerable wealth diversified over different asset classes (from shares in listed and pre-IPO companies, a 13x family office, a global portfolio of commercial real estate and art collections), we are in the process of setting up a private trust company to consolidate their various assets into a single succession vehicle. By educating the clients on our holistic approach to succession planning, and by introducing them to unfamiliar concepts of family governance and a family charter, we have been able to address each of the generational concerns with customised solutions.
What challenges do your clients face and how are you helping your clients to overcome them?
In Asia, the generational divide is the most pressing challenge facing most clients. The older generation are still more reluctant to openly discuss their wealth and unspoken issues with the next generation, who often have differing and increasingly ESG-oriented global mindsets together with multi-jurisdictional residency concerns.
Butterfield have a team who are able to guide clients in their succession planning journey through their deep experience and knowledge. Being able to adapt to the evolving needs of various generations has also proven vitally important this past year, particularly with the increasing virtual, technological driven needs.
What is your most memorable work moment?
As much as I enjoy the thrill of achievement when a job is successfully executed, what gives me the most tremendous satisfaction often comes from a client’s heartfelt ‘thank you’ for helping them through a difficult family situation. I also feel proud when seeing our team members grow and achieve their goals. I make it my personal mission to fully assist them with developing their individual career paths.
Who do you most admire and why?
It has to be artist Tracey Emin for her talent, originality and integrity. By confronting her rawest emotions and turning her fragility into strength in the most daring and revealing form, not only did she instigate a revolution in contemporary art, she has continued to inspire a new generation with her evolving styles while always staying true to herself.
If you were not in the wealth management industry, what might you be doing?
I have long been a passionate collector of tribal and contemporary art as well as an ardent photographer, inspired by many years of travel to some of the most intriguing corners of the world. I would therefore devote myself to documenting, through my photography, the ever-changing and contrasting lifestyles of different cultures and championing both their indigenous and contemporary art.