Families are increasingly spread across multiple countries – and experiencing more financial, legal and fiscal headaches as a result.
It has been said that the world is getting smaller. In technical terms, what this means is that the world is becoming more globalized: its investment and financial markets, trade, technology, cultures and societies are becoming globally integrated.
A significant consequence is that people are living much more internationally. The Wealth Report 2018, published by Knight Frank, a global real estate consultancy, concludes that 34% of those surveyed already have a second passport, while a further 29% are considering getting a second passport or dual nationality. Currently 41% send their children overseas for education – a figure that is expected to increase. Thirty-eight per cent currently own property investments (excluding primary and secondary homes) outside of their country of residence and 34% are thinking of making an investment of this kind over the next few years.1
Despite this, many families and individuals have wealth plans or wealth structures that are based on their current residence, rather than taking into account the full, and often global reach of their financial arrangements. At Deutsche Bank Wealth Management, we often encounter plans that are likely to be inefficient when dealing with assets or family members in other jurisdictions. However, by approaching the wealth planning process from a global perspective, we can work closely with your professional advisors to help to address issues that could have an impact on both your family and your absolute investment returns over the long term.
What sort of issues associated with globalization should you be thinking about in regard to your wealth plan?
Elements of your wealth structure – investments, property, family members, assets - will be subject to the laws of the jurisdiction they are based in, and each jurisdiction will have its own set of local laws. As people’s lives and wealth have globalized, so too has the number of jurisdictions and specific laws that must be factored into their wealth plans, and the overall complexity of their arrangements. It is therefore worth asking yourself the following questions, to try and understand the risks you could be facing and the opportunities you may be missing.
1. How do I want to pass on my wealth?
When passing on your wealth to the next generation (also known as dispositive planning), you need to understand how assets will be distributed under applicable local laws of where you, your beneficiaries and/or the assets are based, as well as consider how and when your heir(s) might receive those assets. Forced heirship, including under Sharia law, is just one example of laws that require serious consideration. You may also want to think about how your wealth structure can protect you during incapacity and care for your minor children.
2. What property or real estate do you own and where is it?
Physical assets often need to be treated in line with the tax and dispositive laws where the property is located. The same applies to any overseas investments or assets you may hold. On top of this you need to consider their security; your assets are only as safe as the local law provides. For example, how do the local laws protect you and your assets from creditors or from expropriation by the government itself?
3. Where is your primary residence?
This may create issues or present opportunities regardless of whether it is also your country of citizenship. Understanding how your residence, or a change in residence, may impact your financial situation is an essential component of any wealth plan.
4. How are my assets structured?
Different legal structures may have different dispositive, tax or other implications. Therefore, assets held in joint names, through partnerships, companies, trusts, foundations or other structures should be scrutinized to ensure the objectives of the ownership arrangement are efficient across relevant jurisdictions.
5. What if I want to make a philanthropic donation?
Many of our clients find that making philanthropic donations or setting up a charitable foundation can be a complex process. This is especially true when an international structure is under consideration because you may wish to attract foreign donors or to have a better regulatory framework. Being informed of the alternatives can help make your charitable giving more effective.
6. Who is coordinating all of this?
Keeping track of assets and structures, understanding the cross-border implications of one structure in other jurisdictions based on legal or tax changes and addressing the considerations for every new investment or change in personal circumstances can be a daunting task.
7. What should you look for in a wealth planner?
The more international your lifestyle, the more you will benefit from having a wealth planner with wide geographic coverage. You also need to consider whether your wealth planner is equipped to cope with the complexity of your situation.
Deutsche Bank Wealth Management has a global presence with a number of dedicated regional teams. Our wealth planners have deep, local knowledge of each jurisdiction – plus years of experience working with cross-border situations to help identify issues and opportunities associated with your global wealth planning needs. Being part of the wider Deutsche Bank Group gives us access to resources and expertise that other firms may not have.
Whether you need help dealing with the ownership of your private company, structuring assets to optimise them under local law, or passing on your assets to the next generation and charities in a manner consistent with your objectives, we have the breadth and depth of experience to help.
Ron Jacobs is Head of Wealth Planning, EMEA, Deutsche Bank Wealth Management