Citizenship and Residency – The Many Opportunities and Trends for the Year Ahead
Jacky Poh, Deputy Head Southeast Asia for Henley & Partners gave delegates at the Hubbis Vietnam Wealth Management Forum on November 9 a lively and succinct presentation on the advantages of alternative residences or citizenships, highlighting domicile diversification as a new asset class, and introducing the Henley & Partners Education Service. This is a short summary of his talk.
Armed with a comprehensive and easy to navigate slide presentation, Jacky explained how alternative residences or citizenships have become very popular amongst wealthy clients in the past decade and even more so since the pandemic hit and during times of geopolitical uncertainties.
Domicile diversification has become almosthenl a new asset class, and demand for these alternative residences or citizenships continues to grow apace. Henley & Partners (Henley) has championed the investment migration industry for more than two decades. The firm has grown especially rapidly in the past five years, particularly since the start of the pandemic.
Henley has expanded its global footprint fairly aggressively, with 35 offices globally today, and plans to open another 12 or possibly even more offices this year, including new offices in the Middle East, Africa, and South America this year. The firm set out on this journey back in the 1990s, and they have advised more than 20,000 clients to date.
Henley’s two core activities
The firm has two core businesses, one advising private clients on their migration options and then helping them execute their chosen migration programs, and the second advising many governments around the world – from countries such as the UK, Malta, Cantons in Switzerland, jurisdictions in the Caribbean and most recently Kazakhstan - on their inward investment migration programmes.
In the world of private client advice, Henley works closely with the wealth management industry and associated professions. The firm’s advisors are in constant liaison with private bankers, private client lawyers, financial advisors, IAMs, tax advisors, corporates, fiduciary companies, and others who refer clients.
Working with the wealth industry
Henley then works on a fee share arrangement with the wealth industry, and constantly reiterates how wealth market incumbents can rest assured that Henley is a totally benign partner, never going anywhere near any clients for investment advisory and instead focusing entirely and exclusively on investment migration. Moreover, they can often also reciprocate referrals to business partners now that they have such a major global client base and extensive geographical coverage.
Global reach, local support
Jacky explained that for every programme Henley offers clients, they always provide local support, as well as ensuring total privacy, in full compliance with all relevant local, regional, and global privacy rules and data protection practices. “We emphasise privacy, privacy, and more privacy,” he reported.
He explained he had worked for ten plus years as a banker prior to joining Henley & Partners, and during that time, saw more and more focus on investment migration and associated advice. “And I welcome any bankers or advisors here today to talk with me and colleagues and to advance the concepts of investment migration with your clients,” he said.
Citizenship or residency?
Jacky explained that he is a Singaporean, armed with a passport that allows him to travel to 192 countries visa-free. “But imagine you are a wealthy Vietnamese businessman, and you want to clinch that deal in Europe, but you are hampered because your passport only allows access to 55 countries visa free. But let’s say you also have a Malta passport – Vietnamese are allowed two passports; you can travel easily with your Malta passport to Europe at the drop of a hat and secure that deal.”
Jacky quickly defined some of the key reasons for alternative residence, aside from ease of rapid mobility. Education planning ranks highly for Vietnamese clients, as they have traditionally sent their children to France, Canada, US, and Australia. And often the children work for some years in those markets after studying, and then return home to Vietnam armed with both education and experience.
Retirement is another target, and he explained that he had recently visited Portugal, which he loved so much that he himself wants to retire there with the Golden Visa programme. “Wine there is cheaper than mineral water in Singapore!” he quipped. “And nearby countries such as Malaysia have retirement or second home programmes that also offer access to great lifestyles for retirement. And Henley advises on a wide range of approved alternatives for residence and citizenship around the world, each tailored quite ideally to the needs of the clients and their budgets.”
He also mentioned Greece, which offers residence within several months provided applications are properly completed and for a modest property investment of only EUR250,000. “That then gives you a Greece permanent residency, but with no minimum stay requirement, and with full Schengen access. And that is incredibly useful and valuable.”
The Henley Education Service
Jacky also briefly highlighted the Henley education service. “We now engage highly experienced education consultants that help uncover and explain the best education options in multiple jurisdictions,” he explained. “The amazing thing is they help your child or your clients’ child to prepare for admission interviews, and we then work on associated relocation programmes for the students and also perhaps family members to accompany them.”
He closed the presentation by inviting anyone in the wealth industry locally to speak to him and colleagues about the many interesting alternatives available.
“It is increasingly important these days to have a Plan B or even a Plan C and domicile diversification is a real possibility for wealthy clients in Asia and of course Vietnam,” he concluded. “My door is open…”
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