ESAFON¸ a non-profit association located in Montreux¸ Switzerland¸ promotes the cooperation between Switzerland and Europe and facilitates the exchanges between professionals in the area of Asset Management & Family Wealth Management. For more than fifteen years ESAFON has been at the forefront to disseminate the concept of Family Office around the world.

We take the opportunity of the Luxembourg initiative and proposed bill of law to label Multi – Family Office Services to review and discuss whether there is an interest to regulate and harmonize Multi-Family Office Services on a broader worldwide scale including within Europe and Switzerland.

The US¸ leading the way in Family Office matters has taken the views that Family Offices through the Dodd-Frank Act require registration. This is the spirit of the new rules to clearly in most instances require registration¸ except for the narrowly crafted exemptions. A perfect consequence is that Dodd- Frank has significantly changed the Commodity Exchange Act (the “CEA”). As a result of these changes¸ Family Offices that trade in commodities and derivatives should review their compliance with applicable law.
From a different angle the distinction amongst Single and Multi – Family Office is blurring as it is not uncommon to find families pooling investment funds to make joint investments with other families or individuals; therefore does a distinctive approach makes sense?

Wealthy Families and HNWI’s around the world are placing increased emphasis on open architecture¸ transparency and objective professional advice. They do need a high quality of advice free of conflict of interest and delivered through a contractual and transparent relationship with their service providers who do apply a rigorous code of conduct that includes governance standards and professional secrecy.

Most Affluent Families and Family Offices do pursue a highly defensive strategy with respect to investments¸ risk management¸ security and privacy given the current economic environment and the foreseeable future. They do seek a safe harbor for their assets which ensure a robust environment for the custody and safekeeping functions while ensuring absolute privacy and banking secrecy.

Given the recent events that violate the banking secrecy noticeably in Switzerland¸ the conference will detail the profile of jurisdictions that can be considered as safe-havens and detail how to split effectively the asset custody function while keeping the trustee relationship at home. Canada will be used as a good case-study.
Business-owning families do need a comprehensive range of tax effective and flexible asset management vehicles and estate planning tools and solutions. They need to preserve their assets cost efficiently and rely on solid expertise despite a gloomy economic environment.

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