Leading in financially turbulent times

As you are reading this article the STEP Caribbean Conference is well underway, taking place in Puerto Rico from 4 to 6 May. The conference brings together trust and estate practitioners from all over the globe for an intense couple of days examining all the latest news as it relates to the industry. The Journal reports.

As with any other professional working in the financial services industry at this moment in time, trust professionals globally are all facing a myriad of issues from ever changing regulations to dealing with client fears and issues in this downward market.

Steven L. Cantor is the managing partner of Cantor & Webb P.A., a Miami, Florida law firm specialising in tax, estate planning and property matters for high net worth international private clients principally from Latin America, the United Kingdom and Europe. Cantor is also a speaker at this year’s STEP Caribbean conference. In answer to the question as to what the current most topical issues facing the industry are right now and how are these issues being dealt with, Cantor says, “Our perspective is that of a Miami based international tax and estate planning law firm specialising in dealing with planning for wealthy international private clients and the resolution of tax compliance issues. Currently there are issues dealing with the Internal Revenue Service and offshore bank accounts held by U.S. taxpayers, as well as issues stemming from UBS and the proposed Stop Tax Haven Abuse Act, which serve to highlight what has kept us extremely busy. We deal with many international financial institutions which refer to us matters involving U.S. taxpayers who need assistance in properly complying with tax and reporting requirements.”

Cantor’s discussion at the conference will examine HNW Planning Issues for Latin American Clients. Home country political and economic instability as well as personal safety issues, family members who may have moved to the United States, and epic episodes of family dysfunctionality are but a sampling of the challenging and ever changing issues to be encountered by the trust professional who deals with high net worth Latin American clients.

Graeme Kleiner is the Head of the Speechly Bircham LLP’s Contentious Trusts and Estates team, based in the private client department. He advises trustees, executors and beneficiaries in relation to a broad range of disputes arising out of trust and succession related matters.

Kleiner says the poor performance of investments and problems relating to Madoff type investments are big issues facing the industry right now, as are the attacks from the revenue authorities of the onshore world for offshore structures.

Kleiner will be examining PTCs and Settlor-Controlled Trusts in a session called PTCs and Settlor-Controlled Trusts: Accidents waiting to happen?

One of the main attractions of structures involving PTCs and reserved power trusts is that these enable settlors to retain a considerable element of control after having ostensibly settled assets on trust. Kleiner will consider the tensions which exist between the settlor’s desire to retain control and the problems which can arise in the context of subsequent hostilities arising from allegations of sham, matrimonial proceedings and proceedings brought by creditors. He will look at the dangers of structures unravelling -and the risks for professional trust companies which are involved in these structures when things turn sour.

“Continuing education, aggressive networking and a positive outlook are key to survival these days”, stated Hélène Ann Lewis, Chair of the 2009 conference and a leading trust professional in the BVI – this year’s host jurisdiction.

Lewis says this year’s conference will be the best investment that a trust professional can make this year to ensure they are up-to-date on ever changing regulations, as she confirms, “Pursuing new business and staying on the forefront of global issues is critical to success during this economic downturn.”

In addition to a number of macro topics including a deep dive into the world of digital and interactive and how it affects the trust world to issues and media management, this year’s conference will also provide some tools and strategies for managing in this downturn. A raft of vital industry-specific topics include maintaining efficiency in a compliant environment and challenges and opportunities for independent trust companies.

The conference will also explore the perennial question of the future of international financial centres but this year’s conversation will include an exploration of the economic impact of IFC’s on the global economy.

Don’t miss future editions of The Journal for in depth coverage of the STEP Caribbean Conference 2009. 


Steven L Cantor