In our 60 second interview series, Citywealth speaks to Sevyn Kalsi, senior counsel at Walkers, about working on “green field” matters, and helping clients with issues surrounding asset protection, succession planning and the maintenance of privacy and confidentiality.
Tell me about your role.
I'm a senior counsel in the Private Capital & Trusts team at Walkers, and I advise on non-contentious private capital, trust structuring and family office matters.
The Private Capital & Trusts team combines lawyers from across Walkers' specialist practice areas and our 10 offices, advising on each of the firm's jurisdictions - Bermuda, the British Virgin Islands, Cayman, Guernsey, Jersey and Ireland. Our aim is to provide the same integrated, innovative and seamless service to clients holding private capital as we provide to Fortune 500 companies, tier-one financial institutions and institutional asset managers.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I always try and have breakfast with the family and, when I can, I take my son to nursery before heading to the office. This is where my "typical day" ends.
My day is generally made up of any one or more of: working on new and existing client matters, business development, planning and attending business trips, writing articles, presenting training seminars and taking part in local and cross-jurisdiction calls either internally or with clients. Priorities can also change very quickly meaning that my day often takes unexpected turns!
It's a cliché, but no day is ever the same. Variety is great as, after all, who wants monotony…
Tell us about interesting client instructions.
The most interesting instructions tend to be "green field" matters, where we are presented with a goal that a client is wishing to achieve (be it asset protection, succession planning, philanthropy, investment structuring, etc) and we are given free rein as to the type of structures to be put in place, and the shape that these may take - perhaps this is my creative side coming out!
Sometimes, seemingly benign matters can also be very interesting due to the personalities involved.
What challenges do your clients face and how are you helping your clients to overcome them?
Given the unfortunate political and social situations in various regions around the globe, many clients are becoming increasingly concerned with issues surrounding asset protection, succession planning and the maintenance of privacy and confidentiality.
We are therefore seeing an uptick in the number of complex structures being created, both private trust company and family office structures, to assist clients with such issues. Also, as families are now more globally mobile than ever, structures need to be tailored to meet the requirements of the different jurisdictions and situations that family members may find themselves in.
Also, as Walkers takes a truly jurisdictionally agnostic view to the laws that we advise on, there is no pressure for me to push a client towards a particular jurisdiction (Jersey being "my jurisdiction") if, in reality, the client's objectives would be best served by establishing their structure, or a part thereof, in another of the firm's jurisdictions.
What is your proudest professional achievement?
It is a tie - firstly, qualifying as an English solicitor (and I soon hope to be a qualified Jersey Advocate!) and, secondly, I am very proud, and humbled, to have built and to continue to build a following of clients that seek me out for legal advice.
What do you consider to be the most important attributes for a leader?
Honesty and integrity, and a lack of ego and arrogance. It is also important for a leader to be passionate about whatever he or she does, and to be able to inspire his or her team.
Who do you most admire and why?
There is one person in particular, a former partner that I worked with some years ago, that stands out for me. In addition to having a very busy caseload and travelling extensively, he always made time for his colleagues and was never too busy to speak and listen to, teach and involve junior members of the team. He is one of the calmest and most down to earth people, whilst still being a global leader in his field.
We are now close friends, and I wouldn’t dream of making certain decisions without his counsel.
I'm not going to say who it is… but you know who you are.
Where was the last place you travelled to for work or pleasure?
Zurich – I had a fantastic business trip meeting lots of potential clients and intermediaries and learning about the market there. I then spent a great weekend with an old university friend and his family. Hopefully I can schedule in some skiing on my next trip!
If you weren’t in the wealth management industry, what else might you be doing?
Without a doubt, I would be a carpenter.
I love the creativeness of designing and building things, and I also find it very relaxing. Focus and attention to detail is key, with the proverb "measure twice, cut once" being vital! My latest creations have been fitted cupboards, a cabinet and (although not strictly carpentry) a tandoor oven.
How do you relax after a long day?
If I can, I always try and get home for bath-time for my son and to read him a bedtime story (even if I have to log in later on). Then, a gin and tonic, watching a film with my wife and enjoying a takeaway.