New private wealth research shows holders bracing themselves for increasing tax burdens on offshore wealth as part of recouping COVID-19 costs.
An overwhelming majority (97 per cent) of private wealth professionals think that governments are stepping up efforts to tax offshore wealth and plug the economic hole caused by the global pandemic. According to new research by Intertrust Group, more than half (56 per cent) think that this is an “extremely likely" scenario.
The administration service group interviewed 100 private wealth management professionals globally in August and September last year. Two-thirds of respondents said that demand for tax services had risen over the past two years, and more than half (53 per cent) said the pandemic had resulted in clients re-evaluating their objectives and shifting from wealth creation to wealth preservation strategies.
“One of the core takeaways from our private wealth research has been that underlying sector trends already in motion prior to COVID-19, such as a focus on best-practice technologies and consolidated data management and reporting platforms, have escalated in importance over 2020 due to the pandemic,” Francis Parisis, global head of private wealth at Intertrust Group, said.
The study comes at a time when a number of countries around the world are figuring out how to repair public finances hit by the pandemic. In the US, for example, the Biden administration and Congress are expected to push income tax and other tax hikes. Even in Singapore, which for years has been seen as a low-tax state, there has been discussion of a wealth tax.
Intertrust provides corporate, fund and private wealth services to clients in around 100 jurisdictions. Parisis says its research showed that wealthy individuals and families have continued to demand superior tech-enabled services to manage their wealth, particularly when it comes to choosing the right structures and jurisdictions. “This will only accelerate in our view." Recovery from the pandemic “is likely to involve significant new measures and approaches,” he said.
In terms of generational trends, the survey revealed that families are becoming more global not less so in light of the pandemic, with members increasingly based in a variety of jurisdictions.
Feedback from wealth practitioners also revealed that more families are aware of the impact of governance and regulation, and there is growing demand among next-generation members for legacy plans to follow international best practice. Roughly half (45 per cent) of clients are now more focused on their own business continuity planning.
Roughly two-thirds of wealth professionals polled warned that opposing generational views about the transparency of succession planning posed the greatest risk to successfully managing family wealth. Another concern raised was the level of discord over participation in the family business and understanding its values and mission. Some 41 per cent said that attitudes to investing in ESG-focused companies and funds has become key.
“Using the right platforms and reporting tools will underpin the success of refocusing portfolios towards greater ESG exposure,” Parisis said.