Trust industry upbeat on Bermuda

  • In step: Keith Robinson, left, chairman of the Bermuda branch of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, with new Governor John Rankin at STEP's annual conference yesterday (Photograph by Raymond Hainey)

    In step: Keith Robinson, left, chairman of the Bermuda branch of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners, with new Governor John Rankin at STEP's annual conference yesterday (Photograph by Raymond Hainey)

The millennial generation around the world is set to inherit trillions of dollars over the next few years — and an expert warned yesterday they will want ethical investments.

Gina Pereira, of Toronto-based Dana Philanthropy, said: “Younger people, what’s coming through in the research is they don’t want to do things the way their mom and dad did — they want to do it their way.”

Ms Pereira, speaking at the annual conference of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners conference, said that younger people focused more on the environment, social and corporate governance of companies than the preceding generation.

She said: “What we need to be is be on top of what they are looking for. Bermuda should be getting a grip on what the next generation wants and are looking for and start to tailor some of the products around that.”

She added that younger people wanted more socially responsible investments and were more interested in philanthropic ideas.

Ms Pereira said: “Major companies are incorporating environment, social and corporate governance into their investment strategies. There isn’t a division between being socially responsible and making money any more.”

Ms Pereira was part of a panel of experts at the conference, held at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute, who discussed ways Bermuda could make itself more attractive as a base for trust and estate business from overseas.

Andrea Jackson, of Lombard Odier Trust Bermuda, added that investors also now targeted start-ups for investment, rather than the traditional market.

The conference also heard that China — which boasts a huge number of wealthy individuals — and South America should be prime targets for Bermudian professionals to drum up more business.

Eric Dorsch, a partner in New York law firm Kozusko Harris Duncan, said: “We are seeing our biggest growth in Latin American countries, mostly because of jurisdictional risk in South America.”

And he added that wealthy people in the region “did not want their assets and money in South America any more”.

Mr Dorsch said that Panama had been used by South Americans — but controversy surrounding the country and the release of the Panama Papers detailing massive tax avoidance had dented its image.

He added: “Panama is not a place they want to be any more — the British Virgin Islands are not much better than that.

“Bermuda still has a better reputation and doesn’t have the same reputational problems in some of the South American countries that Panama and the BVI have.”

Keith Robinson, chairman of STEP Bermuda, said after the conference he had just returned from a STEP Asia conference held in Hong Kong, attended by around 470 professionals in the field.

He added: “Trusts and estates in the US is a significant growth sector in the Far East, which is a function of the great wealth in China.”

Mr Robinson said that STEP was working with the Bermuda Business Development Agency to develop business in both China and South America.

He added: “The panellists were almost entirely positive about Bermuda as a jurisdiction. They talked about tweaking legislation or trust law, but doing nothing dramatically different.

“We basically think of ourselves as the best jurisdiction — if you want to have an offshore trust, we say you should come here.

“The number of billionaires in China is huge — we want to build business, supporting local jobs and build jobs here by attracting ultra-high wealth individuals here.

“And not only do we want to bring their wealth here, we want them to set up family offices here and manage their wealth from Bermuda.”

New Governor John Rankin, who closed the conference, said that the island’s legal system, based on English common law and upheld by its courts for 400 years was “vital to the continuing prosperity of this country”.

And he added that Bermuda was “a centre of excellence in this field to those seeking to establish trusts for the benefit of Bermuda as a whole”.

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Published Dec 9, 2016 at 8:00 am (Updated Dec 8, 2016 at 8:30 pm)

Trust industry upbeat on Bermuda

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