What we do
Sovereign’s Private Client Services have been developed to assist families and entrepreneurs around the world to structure their assets in a way that will help to grow their wealth now and preserve it for future generations.
We advise on all aspects of the design and implementation of structures, using trusts, foundations, companies and funds, in domestic as well as overseas jurisdictions, to hold assets and investments for secure, efficient wealth and succession planning.
While some of our clients are based only in a single location, many are international families with assets and family members spread across different countries. Sovereign has broad experience in managing trusts and estates with complex structures involving assets and beneficiaries in multiple jurisdictions and dealing with the legal, tax and compliance issues that arise when the laws of several jurisdictions may apply.
We also provide the support to maximise opportunities and achieve long-term sustainability, from full family office solutions to assistance with tax and regulatory compliance.
This includes, but is not limited to, asset management, accountancy, foreign property ownership, retirement planning, residency, immigration and citizenship, insurance, yacht and aircraft registration and management, as well as specialist tax advice.
First and foremost Sovereign needs to understand your requirements, strategies and goals. We will never recommend a structure that will not be effective if scrutinised by regulators and tax authorities, either in foreign jurisdictions or in your home country. Sovereign provides progressive solutions that will work on both a practical and a legal basis to secure your personal objectives.
This website is intended to provide a general guide to our Private Client Services. We would always encourage prospective clients to contact their most convenient Sovereign office for an initial consultation. Should you choose to proceed, we will provide accurate time and cost estimates before undertaking any work on your behalf.
For further details on our Private Client Services, please use the links below.
Confidentiality and Transparency
Generally, in all countries that follow English common law there is an implied duty for management companies, bankers and other professionals to keep their clients’ affairs confidential. In some countries this common law duty may be supplemented by local legislation that imposes criminal penalties on those who breach confidentiality or attempt to get others to do so.
Confidentiality, of course, is very different from secrecy. In the past two decades there have a number of international initiatives (listed below) that are designed to increase transparency. When fully implemented, these initiatives will see ‘secrecy’ disappear completely – but this will not concern structures and arrangements that are legally and fiscally compliant.
Legitimate planning that utilises compliant structures has always been and remains to be effective. Expert advice is essential, not just to ensure the correct planning but also to demonstrate that you have taken care to achieve legal and tax compliance. Anyone with concerns over their existing arrangements would be well advised to contact their nearest Sovereign office for review.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) developed a series of Recommendations that are recognised as the international standard for anti-money laundering (AML) and combating the financing of terrorism (CFT). First issued in 1990, the FATF Recommendations have been revised to ensure that they remain up-to-date and relevant, and they are intended to be of universal application.
As a result, all corporate and trust service providers and financial institutions have a statutory duty to implement KYC procedures for all clients, new and old. Clients must expect to supply proof of identity, proof of residential address and references. They must also explain the source and business purpose for any substantial movement of funds. Compliance with these standards brings additional costs and inconvenience but is entirely unavoidable. KYC is now mandatory under local and international regulations and/or laws.
OECD Common Reporting Standard (CRS) – At the G20 summit in 2013, the world’s 20 largest economies mandated the OECD to create a single global standard for the automatic exchange of information. The CRS provides for annual automatic exchange between governments of financial account information, including balances, interest, dividends and sales proceeds from financial assets, reported to governments by financial institutions and covering accounts held by individuals and entities, including trusts and foundations. As of June 2019, there were close to 4,000 bilateral exchange relationships activated with respect to more than 100 jurisdictions committed to the CRS, with next exchanges between these jurisdictions set to take place at the end of September 2019.
US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA) – FATCA, which was enacted in 2010 and came into effect in 2014, is designed to target non-compliance by US taxpayers using foreign accounts. It requires foreign financial institutions (FFIs) and certain other non-financial foreign entities to report information to the IRS, either directly or via their local revenue authority, about financial accounts held by US taxpayers, or held by foreign entities in which US taxpayers hold a substantial ownership interest. If not, they will be subject to withholding on withholdable payments. FATCA compliance will differ depending on whether or not an FFI is in a country with an inter-governmental agreement (IGA) with the US. There will be further differences according to the type of IGA – Model 1 or Model 2 – and whether the IGA has provisions requiring US reciprocity.
Base erosion and profit shifting (BEPS) – BEPS refers to tax planning strategies that exploit gaps in the architecture of the international tax system to artificially shift profits to places where there is little or no economic activity or taxation. At the request of G20 Leaders in 2015, the OECD developed the new Inclusive Framework on BEPS, which is now composed of 129 members and 14 observers, including over 70% of non-OECD and non-G20 countries and jurisdictions from all geographic regions. Exchanges of information on more than 21,000 tax rulings have taken place and there are currently more than 2,000 relationships in place for the exchange of Country-by-Country reports, under the Convention for Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters, bilateral tax treaties and tax information exchange agreements (TIEAs)
International standards on beneficial ownership transparency are emerging. The FATF has recommended that public registers become the international standard by 2023 and all EU member states have committed to introduce public registers in 2019 as set out by the Fifth Anti-Money Laundering Directive.
Beneficial owners, often referred to as ‘persons with significant control’ (PSCs), are typically defined as someone: holding more than 25% of shares or voting rights in a company; with the right to appoint or remove the majority of board of directors; who otherwise exercises significant influence or control.
In April 2016, the UK, Germany, France, Italy and Spain agreed to an automatic exchange of beneficial ownership information agreement that would enable “international real-time access to tax and law enforcement agencies on company ownership”. It covers “companies, trusts, foundations, shell companies and other relevant entities and arrangements”. Over 40 countries have now joined this agreement.
A property register is designed to ensure that all foreign entities that own or buy property in a particular country have to declare their beneficial owners. The UK is in the process of introducing a property register that should be operational by 2021. After this, if a foreign entity buys or owns property in the UK it must identify and register its beneficial owner with Companies House. Entities that fail to comply in the UK would be unable to sell, buy, lease or mortgage their property and be subject to fines and prison sentences.