Jurisdictional Update: China

Posted On: 19 Dec 2019

Over 100 delegates representing legal, tax, private banking and wealth management firms from the UK and Switzerland attended the Greater China Wealth Management Forum event at the end of November.  As part of the Private Client Dining Club’s events programme, the event included networking, panel discussions and keynote speakers that focused on key trends in the private wealth market in China and links to the UK wealth management industry.  Here, delegate attendee Patrick McCarrick shares his key takeaways from the event.

The overarching message was extremely positive. It appears that the ongoing uncertainty of Brexit hasn’t put off Chinese investors/nationals from investing and/or immigrating into the UK.  The key attractions that continue to appeal to Far East clients include education, healthcare, lifestyle and employment.  While the key challenges remain exchange controls for those wishing to divest assets from the Chinese economy, and for those wishing to leave China or obtain a second passport, with the Tier 1 Visa route continuing as a popular and effective choice.

As head of a trust and CSP firm, it was pleasing to learn that for a number of reasons (see below) the benefits of estate/succession planning, including the use of trusts and companies (both onshore and offshore), are becoming more appealing.

  • There is an increasing level of investor education and trust in financial services firms by younger Chinese clients. There is, however, a long way to go before the level of mainstream investor education in China reaches that of other jurisdictions


  • China’s older generations (who hold a significant proportion of the region’s wealth) wish to preserve and secure their legacy, and/or hand over wealth to the next generation in an orderly fashion in order to avoid their legacy being eroded or squandered


  • The abolition of China’s one child policy, and the increasing divorce rates in China (a trend which is in line with the rest of the world), increase the likelihood of family disputes over inheritance and pre/post nuptial agreements also present a similar challenge


  • The establishment and use of Life insurance policies by HNWI’s presents a number of succession and tax planning opportunities. Specialist insurance providers have quickly addressed this trend which sees professional trustees tasked with holding whole of life policies and, at the appropriate time, managing the affairs and wishes of their clients accordingly


Furthermore, the panel discussions which took place highlighted that whilst there are a number of different ways to avoid exchange controls and bring money into the UK economy (not something we would endorse). The Common Reporting Standard (CRS) requires reporting by financial institutions and, as a result, any quick fix methods that seem too good to be true, will inevitably attract attention from the Chinese Revenue after the annual CRS reporting. This clearly highlights the need for reputable tax and legal advice, along with the importance of due diligence from clients and service providers. For me, this all reaffirms the potential opportunities that exist within this region for professional services firms such as KHT.


View the event photo gallery

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