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London becomes go-to advice hub for global UHNW clients

Date: 20 Oct 2017

Citywealth

Salpy Kouyoumjian, partner at Boodle Hatfield, tells Citywealth about her work, trends in sharia-compliant wealth structuring in the UK and offers positive Brexit thoughts.

Tell me about your role at Boodle Hatfield

I advise UHNW individuals and their trustees, companies and family offices on tax, trust, succession and estate planning.The majority of my clients are based overseas or are resident in the UK but non-domiciled.

Tell us about your clients?

What has always struck me aboutmy Russian or CIS clients is their analytical skills. Many of them have read subjects like geophysics, metallurgy or mathematics and I can’t help thinking that they deploy these skills when it comes to understanding tax. They are demanding clients but they are loyal and refreshingly direct.

Tell me about your role at Boodle Hatfield

I advise UHNW individuals and their trustees, companies and family offices on tax, trust, succession and estate planning.The majority of my clients are based overseas or are resident in the UK but non-domiciled.

Tell us about your clients?

What has always struck me aboutmy Russian or CIS clients is their analytical skills. Many of them have read subjects like geophysics, metallurgy or mathematics and I can’t help thinking that they deploy these skills when it comes to understanding tax. They are demanding clients but they are loyal and refreshingly direct.

How has the private client industry changed?

The pace of tax changes and the drive towards transparency have changed the landscape for our clients. The dynamics of family wealth have also changed, with families becoming more mobile and pursuing an increasingly diversified and globalised investment strategy. There has emerged a new focus on risk management to counteract the usual problems like family fall-outs but also cyber-crime and reputational risk. The private client industry in the UK continues to stand out as a centre of excellence for clients looking for advice and this is borne out by the number of clients with little or no connection to the UK accessing advice in London.

What other trends have you encountered?

I act for business families from the Middle East and one of the challenges they face is how to transfer their wealth and delegate control. The wealth structuring solutions for families from the Middle East tend to diverge, depending on whether the assets are locally sited or not but even for structures linked to non-local assets, clients will often want to follow sharia succession principles. This is nothing new but there is an upswing in momentum around the importance of good governance for the family and the business which is positive.

What are the main challenges your clients are facing?

The raft of changes to the taxation of non-doms and the somewhat erratic way in which this has come about. CRS is also a concern particularly for clients from jurisdictions where there are legitimate concerns over the safety of data which is fuelling a degree of mobility. I am getting instructions from individuals and trustees who are looking at the impact of these new rules, including the more recent Register of Beneficial Ownership of Trusts. From the Middle East the most common requests involve putting together asset-holding structures ranging from PTCs through to LP structures and advice on investments in the UK, Europe and the US.

What was the last book you read?

I recently re-read Mrs Bridge by Evan S. Connell which is one of my favourite books. It is the chronicle of the domestic and social life of a Kansas housewife in the 1930s in an era of change in America, particularly in the areas of civil rights and gender equality. The author observes Mrs Bridge’s days in great detail in a series of vignettes,slowly building the picture of a woman struggling with her psyche as she continues to go to her cocktail parties and charity meetings. The observations are humorous and sometimes cruel and the book has a great ending.

Will the UK benefit from Brexit?

One of the great attractions of the UK to my client base is its stability. Brexit, has created uncertainty however, we are continuing to see clients establish themselves and their families in the UK, investing in the UK and setting up single or multi-family offices here.

Tell us about an achievement you are most proud of?

Managing over the years to maintain a balance, sometimes precarious, between being a mother and doing a job I really enjoy.

What do you do to unwind?

I enjoy spending time on the coast, visiting galleries and art exhibitions with my daughter and playing backgammon.

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