Welcome to ILS World

Private Wealth Solutions & Switzerland

Switzerland provides a robust but practical regulatory environment for all aspects of estate and succession planning, asset protection structuring and associated services.
26th January, 2016

The ILS World office in Geneva has built up a high level team of lawyers and trust professionals for the provision of these services to private clients.

The Swiss Banks

The foundations of the modern Swiss banking industry were laid in the mid-18th Century and from that time Switzerland has become a world centre of the private banking industry.

Somewhere just short of three trillion USD is now under management in Swiss banks. Although modern anti-money laundering legislation is now strictly enforced and a degree of exchange of information has in the public mind at least, undermined the famed secrecy of the Swiss bank, the industry continues to thrive.

There are a number of reasons for this continued success.

The increased regulation and enforcement of international standards has in itself enhanced Switzerland's banking reputation. This together with the traditional values of solidity, fiscal strength, political independence and stability means that not only has the banking industry in Switzerland weathered the storm, but it has survived in a stronger and fitter shape to work in the modern financial environment.

But something else has been happening at the same time.

The Swiss Trust Business

In the last 20 years especially, there has been a physical influx of trust companies and the professionals to run them into Switzerland, and away from the more traditional "offshore locations". Partly, this is to service the trust and wealth planning demand created by the banking sector and its clients.

But this growth is also powered by Switzerland providing a benign and practical regulatory environment for such activities, with the Swiss regulators confining themselves to oversight of modern anti-money laundering best practices.

Crucially, although Switzerland has no trust law itself, it is a signatory to the Hague convention on the recognition of trusts and the result is that, unlike trust companies established in many jurisdictions, the Swiss trustee will typically choose from a range of trust laws and structures, tailoring them to meet the client's needs and not being restricted to a particular jurisdiction of choice.

Ally this to a culture of confidentiality and the ability to provide the highest possible service standards demanded by discerning private clients and a whole new industry of independent trust companies is now established in Switzerland.

Independence is Key

The independent trust company industry has also benefited from an increasingly sophisticated client base developing a distrust of "in-house" bank owned trust companies.

These bank trust companies have been in existence for many years and the creation and administration of trusts and other estate/wealth planning structures has been a side activity of the banking sector. Now however, potential clients see the obvious limitations and conflicts of interest created when a banker is also the trustee.

Firstly, bank trust companies will often base their fees on a percentage of asset values under trust, leading to a potentially unfair level of fees levied on relatively simple structures.

In addition, bank trust companies are severely limited in terms of the asset classes they are able to take under management. Family businesses, high risk assets and even property are often excluded from their range.

Finally, it is difficult to argue that complete impartiality is retained by the bank owned trustee in terms of investment decisions, when the bank itself is a primary provider of the investment products themselves.

We have now reached the point where private bankers themselves will prefer to use the services of independent trust companies for their clients, rather than go to their "in-house" alternative, even where such alternatives exist.

So professional and independent trustees and wealth planners sit happily alongside the private banking industry and this process has resulted in Switzerland establishing itself as a world centre for wealth management, estate and succession planning.

ILS World in Switzerland

Throughout its 24 year history, ILS World as a Group has traditionally been associated in the minds of its clients as being primarily a corporate services provider. We have been active in establishing companies in all of the traditional offshore jurisdictions and those structures are often used in international trading and holding activities.

The ILS World Swiss office was first established in 2005 and became a full service fiduciary business in 2008.

Although happy to provide the type of services that ILS World is normally associated with, our high level team of lawyers and trust professionals in Geneva have developed the office into the primary ILS World centre for the provision of services to private clients.

ILS Switzerland can provide advice for all aspects of estate and succession planning, asset protection structuring and associated services. We can design, implement and manage appropriate structures, usually in conjunction with advice from existing or recommended professional advisers.

For more information about our Private Wealth Solutions please contact us.

Managing director Switzerland

David Ashton
David Ashton
Managing Director Switzerland