Covid Fears Are Pushing World’s Mega Rich to Set Up in Singapore

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The world’s rich, reminded of their own mortality, are setting up family offices in greater numbers and plumping for Singapore as a base, according to Monetary Authority of Singapore Deputy Director Spencer Hsu.

“It appears the pandemic has actually served as a reminder of individual mortality and prompted families to bring forward plans, which they may have cast aside previously,” Hsu, who’s also part of the central bank’s family office development team, said during a virtual forum in the city-state Wednesday.

Singapore has been trying to attract family offices — the secretive firms set up by the world’s richest clans to manage their money and interests across multiple generations — in an effort to become Asia’s leading wealth management hub. Tax incentives, special fund structures and promises of residency have all been deployed.

Family offices on the island increased fivefold between 2017 and 2019, Hsu said, without indicating what the figures have been like so far in 2020. That’s an acceleration versus previously disclosed growth figures. MAS doesn’t publicly release the overall number of family offices in the city-state.

“Because families are spending more time at home, they have more time to think about setting up their family offices and as such, we see that the trend of growth is likely to persist,” he said.

MAS and the Singapore Economic Development Board formed the family office development team last year.

One initiative is the global investor program, which helps the key beneficiaries of family offices with at least S$200 million ($145 million) under management get on a pathway to permanent residence status. Tax exemptions can also be used to offset some profits on stocks and derivatives.

Some well-known rich people who have put down roots in Singapore include Facebook Inc. co-founder Eduardo Saverin and vacuum cleaner designer James Dyson.

Author: David Ramli

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