Family or business trust may be set up for wealth transfer

Patriarchs of family businesses in Asia often seek help to set up family offices in Hong Kong or Singapore, said Mr Ng.
Patriarchs of family businesses in Asia often seek help to set up family offices in Hong Kong or Singapore, said Mr Ng.

Family businesses need to address wealth management to create a legacy across generations, said Mr Ng Aik Ping, UBS' director of family advisory for Asia Pacific.

Mr Ng, who works with patriarchs of family businesses in Asia, said they often seek help to set up family offices in Hong Kong or Singapore, which are regional financial centres.

Some, he said, may even have a dedicated fund manager to invest the family's wealth.

"Inter-generational wealth transfer may require the establishment of a family or business trust," said Mr Ng.

This would involve a structured approach, which includes the drafting of a family constitution to govern the nature of the trust fund and to safeguard family values.

A family council of representatives to handle governance and decision-making, including the allocation of shares to each family member and funds set aside for entrepreneurship, education, healthcare, investment and philanthropy, is also part of the set-up.

The family constitution is reviewed every year to align it with changing economic conditions, developments in the financial markets and family circumstances, such as additions to the family.

"We found that as family offices cater to more generations, their investment strategy gravitates towards wealth preservation. But when the next generation beneficiaries are involved, family offices are more likely to pursue a more aggressive growth strategy."

Mr Ng said patriarchs who have built up the family business through toil and sweat also want to pass on intangible wealth such as the spirit of enterprise and family values through the generations.

Geraldine Goh

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 10, 2016, with the headline 'Family or business trust may be set up for wealth transfer'. Print Edition | Subscribe