ST HELIER, Jersey, June 20, 2011 /PRNewswire/ --
Family office is a term widely used in the wealth management industry, but historically the Family Office has found itself limited to overseeing the investments and trusts for a wealthy family or group of families. Whilst such arrangements are commonplace in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, new models of the Family Office concept are now being developed by local high net worth family groups to address a far broader and more complex set of needs covering asset protection, succession, general family management and privacy issues present in the region.
The traditional Family Office, that typically handles all family affairs from the employment of household staff to the management of real estate investments, is becoming increasingly sophisticated and corporate in its approach. Not only are family offices hiring senior qualified and experienced tax, legal and investment practitioners, but many are also adopting collective investment fund structuring methods perhaps more usually witnessed in the institutional asset management space.
Family Offices are developing bespoke, complex and diverse portfolio structures investing in a range of asset classes, from vanilla equity and fixed income to hedge funds and private equity. These investment platforms are commonly formed as companies and trusts but, in recent years, Family Offices are using more publicly visible collective investment funds vehicles and are allowing third parties to co-invest. In the GCC, local 'offshore' special purpose companies are being incorporated in these structures to house local assets alongside internationally located investments and properties.
These developments are partly a product of the increasing demand for the proper segregation of assets, transparency and good governance but they also result from a move to drive efficiencies and reduce costs. In line with such advances, Jersey has reacted well and continues to innovate. The local regulatory body, the Jersey Financial Services Commission, has produced new legislation to enable Family Offices and investment clubs to operate practically within or, where appropriate, outside the regulatory framework. Jersey-based service providers are well versed in the needs of GCC-based clients and, where necessary, can accommodate Shari'a Law principles and associated accounting methodologies.
Depending on the needs of the Family Office and its co-investor, Jersey offers a great degree of flexibility. A fund vehicle that is established for a small number of co-investors (up to a maximum of 15) and, where there is no formal offering of securities, is regarded as a Very Private Fund. Where a fund is offered to not more than 50 investors and is not listed, it is treated as a Private Placement Fund. A collective investment vehicle offered to eligible investors subscribing greater than US$1m can be classified as an Unregulated Fund. Shari'a-compliant investment funds have been formed in Jersey and the expertise exists to deal with the complexities associated with such investment restrictions.
Collective investment funds in Jersey can be established within a few days using a variety of vehicles including a Unit Trust, Public or Private Company, Protected or Incorporated Cell Company and also a Limited Partnership. Depending on the liquidity profile of the asset and investor appetite, both open and closed ended arrangements can be accommodated.
Jersey is an internationally recognised, highly respected and established trust, company and fund-structuring jurisdiction. With a strong finance industry populated by the world's leading accounting, tax, legal and administration firms, Jersey is well placed to service the needs of the ever-evolving family office in the GCC region.
Richard Hughes is Senior Manager at Vistra Jersey Limited, website http://www.vistra.com, telephone +44(0)1534-504700
About Vistra Group
Vistra is a leading independent provider of trust, fiduciary, corporate and fund services delivering personal and tailored solutions to international corporations, institutional investors and high net worth individuals from around the world.
Our clients can benefit from a multi-jurisdictional and personal approach, delivered by a team of professionals with an in-depth understanding of the often complex needs of every client. Our services include company formation and management, fund formation and administration, trustee services, family office, marine and aviation and accounting services.
Today Vistra employs around 350 employees in 20 offices covering 18 jurisdictions, with each of our offices providing the full range of trust, corporate and estate planning solutions.
Today, Vistra is a unique player in the trust and fiduciary industry, boasting the most balanced geographic reach globally while always guaranteeing the personal and tailored service that our clients deserve.
Together, we bring to life the Vistra ethos of "Crossing Borders, Creating Solutions".
For further information please visit http://www.vistra.com
Guy Stephenson/Jennifer Duffy
SOURCE Vistra (Jersey) Limited