Hailing from Jersey and a 30-year veteran in the trust services industry, Karen O’Hanlon, brings a wealth of international trust management experience to First Names Group in Singapore, where she is Managing Director. We speak with Karen about her company’s core business and find out that apart from financial assets, one can also put yachts, vintage cars, art and even an aircraft into a trust.
Tell Us About the Core Competencies of First Names Group
First Names Group is the result of a management buyout from a public listed company in July 2012. We are now a leading independent provider of trust, corporate, fund and real estate administration services with 800 employees operating from 14 jurisdictions worldwide. The essence of our business is about the relationships we forge with our clients and third party legal advisers, tax advisers and financiers. Typically, clients create structures to assist with issues such as asset protection, succession planning and consolidation of assets.
Day to day, we administer a range of trusts for private, institutional and corporate clients, such as discretionary trusts, reserved power trusts, bare trusts all holding a variety of assets, including operating businesses.
Who Are Some of your Clients?
Across Asia, our clients are mainly high net worth individuals and families and Fortune 500 companies. We also work closely with entrepreneurs and potential high net worth individuals who are planning to list their companies on a stock exchange.
How Does the Company Differentiate Itself From Others?
We live in a fast paced environment where the boundaries between life and work are blurring. We believe we can help create some order by giving clients the freedom to achieve their goals. The key for us is to build relationships and trust with our clients, many of whom have been with the Group for over 20 years. As an independent provider, we are free from conflicts of interest and so can work with third party legal, tax and investment advisers that are the best fit of our clients.
Top 4 Signs You Need to Set Up a Trust
You are a high net worth individual who has complex assets and wants to nurture those assets for future generations.
According to Karen, the wealth that had been created by the first generation may not always flow through to the next generations unless steps are taken to protect it. To ensure that wealth is preserved, the head of the family may wish to create a trust so that some of those assets are set aside for grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
You want to protect your assets against future unexpected, and sometimes dangerous, situations.
For example, Karen has worked with a Singapore family who was concerned that one of their family members might be attracting a lot of admirers for the wrong reasons. So the creation of a trust helped to protect the family assets, as prenuptial agreements do not necessarily have a standing in the courts in Singapore.
In countries where personal safety is an issue, having a trust in place has benefitted clients and helped keep assets intact. Recounting a previous case she handled, Karen said having a trust in place helped to prevent extortion from the trust beneficiaries.
You need to provide financial support to your young children or vulnerable adult beneficiaries in your family for the long term.
Trusts in general, particularly discretionary trusts, are very useful vehicles for assisting in succession planning. They offer a large degree of flexibility and are ideal solutions for families with complex financial arrangements.
For example, a trust can be set up specifically to offer financial assistance to a person who is unable to work to support him or herself.
You want to ensure privacy regarding your personal assets.
Clients in Asia often do not want their financial worth made publically available as it may put their families at risk. Trusts are a useful tool when your goal is to keep the details of assets out of the public domain.
Did You Know?
- Assets settled into a trust are legally owned by the trustee and managed on behalf of the trust beneficiaries, which may not include the original owner of the assets.
- Apart from financial assets and shares of any operating business, yachts, gold, vintage cars, aircraft and art can also be placed in a trust so long as the asset is insurable.
- Under Singapore trust law, the perpetuity period is 100 years. In some other jurisdictions, the perpetuity period has been abolished.