The Telegraph

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Europe's wealthy families move their fortunes East

Family offices are companies that look after the wealth of rich households who have money tied up in trusts, property, investments and other assets.

These offices tend to be established European private banks and fund managers whose clients have been with them for multiple generations.

But these family offices are now looking East as the climate becomes less friendly in the West.

Campden Wealth, which provides research and data on family offices, has seen up to 10 European family offices move to Singapore since the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) started in 2008.
Swiss banking giant UBS has set up a family office team looking after the assets of about two dozen clients in Asia, who have funds of US$200 million or more. Other major players include Credit Suisse, HSBC and Royal Bank of Canada.

Singapore is providing an attractive base for family offices to set up with its business-friendly environment, low-tax regime and light-touch regulation. It also has the world's highest number of millionaires in a city designed for high-end living with luxury hotels, casinos and marinas filled with expensive yachts.

One private banker, who looks after a wealthy family's portfolio in Singapore, said: "Europe is facing a lot of pressure from regulators to disclose clients' assets, which is forcing many offices to relocate to Asia. We are seeing clients themselves who are moving to Asia as well."
He added: "If you are American it doesn't matter where in the world you are as you pay US taxes on all your worldwide income, but if you're European you can find a much better tax structure in Singapore."

Many wealthy clients are turning to smaller family offices as they are concerned about the financial health of big banks while being put off by their hard-sell tactics, pushing risky and poor-value financial products.
Campden Wealth believes there are about 2,500 family offices around the world, with up to 200 in Asia. While half of these are in Australia and Japan, the numbers are growing in China, India and south-east Asia.

David Bain, head of research at Campden Wealth, said: "As wealth continues to grow in the region and face more multi-generational pressures there is likely to be a huge demand for the services of family offices, leading to a boom in their numbers."