Global law firm Butler Snow sets up in Singapore

Mr Rademacher said Butler Snow sees tremendous opportunities and growth in the region.
Mr Rademacher said Butler Snow sees tremendous opportunities and growth in the region.

Global law firm Butler Snow has set up shop in Singapore, with an eye on opportunities within the region.

The United States-based firm last month opened a regional office in Collyer Quay - its first in Asia. It will focus on offering tax and estate planning advice to high net worth families and family-controlled businesses in South-east Asia which have US business interests.

Its key markets include Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines. "We selected Singapore because it is a leading financial hub with a business-friendly environment and offers a strong legal framework," Mr Kurt Rademacher, head of the local office, said.

Butler Snow has also opened a virtual office in Hong Kong, where it is looking to "establish a more permanent presence in the future", said Mr Rademacher, a partner in the firm.

"With a reputation for providing clients with solutions for navigating complex US tax rules and regulations, Butler Snow sees tremendous opportunities and growth as the Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (Fatca) and the Common Reporting Standard continue to impact the region."

Mr Rademacher said in an interview that Fatca, in particular, continues to have "huge implications" for both Americans and financial institutions based outside the US.

Under Fatca, which took effect in 2014, banks around the world are required to provide the US taxman with contact and financial details of clients who are American citizens or green card-holders.

"It's awfully difficult for an American to get a bank account these days," said Mr Rademacher.

"Some financial institutions, including retail banks, have taken a decision to not accept American clients because it's just too much trouble, too much risk," he noted, adding that they are also spending "a huge amount of time and money" building compliance systems and providing the US with information.

But he said there is a "growing awareness" of the issue in the past few years, as more people seek legal advice. "They get good advice hopefully and they don't ignore the problem any more," he said, adding that global compliance is key in today's world, where transparency is increasingly important.

Jacqueline Woo

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 02, 2016, with the headline 'Global law firm Butler Snow sets up in Singapore'. Print Edition | Subscribe