Leaders List interview: 60 seconds with Simon Beck, Baker McKenzie
Citywealth speaks to Simon Beck, Partner and Chair of Baker McKenzie‘s North America Wealth Management Group, who advises ultra-high-net-worth individuals and their family offices, financial institutions and not-for-profit organisations.
Tell Citywealth’s readers about your role.
I am a Partner and Chair of Baker McKenzie’s North America Wealth Management Group, this means I lead an amazing team of lawyers based in our New York, Miami, Dallas, Houston, Toronto and Mexico City offices. We specialize in advising UHNW individuals and their family offices, financial institutions and not-for-profits. Our work is largely cross-border, and we work closely with our colleagues in Europe, Latin America and Asia on complex planning and tax advice.
What are you working on at the moment?
Year-end is always fun! With tax reform in many countries, and clients moving their residence to the United States, we are busy implementing pre-immigration planning and trust and corporate re-organizations, which need to be completed by December 31st. We are also working on some fascinating multi-jurisdictional estate disputes, and on the establishment of several US and offshore private trust company structures to hold businesses, investments and real estate held by some of the world’s wealthiest families.
What is the biggest challenge you and your firm are currently facing?
We are working in perhaps the most complex and fast-changing legal environment in my 34-year career. Keeping our team up to speed, meeting tight timeframes, managing regulatory, compliance and reporting deadlines and ensuring that every issue is addressed properly — while working in numerous languages and across global time zones — can feel daunting at times.
Are your clients behaving differently in the present era?
We live in an era of instability, insecurity and constant change. Over the last decade, our clients have experienced political upheaval resulting in insecurity and changes in taxation, reporting requirements and transparency. This has caused some clients to move overseas to seek security and opportunity abroad. This trend has been exacerbated by the pandemic and has increased the need for sophisticated cross-border advice.
What does it mean to you to be a member of Citywealth’s Leaders List?
Our professional community is relatively small and close-knit. I am humbled and honored to be recognized as one of the leaders among my peers.
What are the most important skills and personal qualities to succeed in your role?
Our clients are truly fascinating, and the problems we are asked to solve are complex puzzles that I often liken to playing three-dimensional chess. To succeed, one needs patience, curiosity, creativity and passion, as well as a good sense of humor! Above all, teamwork is key.
What is the most valuable piece of advice you have been given?
If you can say it in five words, don’t use 10! (I have clearly not taken this to heart in my above responses!)
Click here to view Simon Beck’s Leaders List profile.