Opening Doors to a World of Alternative Residence and Citizenship Options

Sylvie Ma

Henley & Partners

Sylvie Ma, Managing Partner of Henley & Partners in Vietnam, is a firm believer in the power of alternative residence and citizenships for high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) and their families. Although Vietnam is at an early stage of the development of its wealth management industry, Ma believes that it is never too early for advisers and their clients to plan for the future.

Ma attended the Hubbis Vietnam Wealth Management Forum to explain details of Henley-approved residence and citizenship options and began the day with a Head to Head on stage discussion with Michael Stanhope, Hubbis’ founder and CEO, to introduce Henley and the services the firm offers.

Ma began by explaining who Henley is. “Henley & Partners is a global firm serving HNWIs and providing residence and citizenship planning and execution,” she explained. “There is a key difference between residence and citizenship, with residence as the first step towards citizenship, which will come later after residence is granted and after living in that other country for some specified number of years. But there is a way of bypassing traditional routes to residence and citizenship and that is through investment, which makes these options available to many HNWIs and the ultra-HNWI community.” Ma noted that Henley calls citizenship by investment ‘CBI’.

She then explained that Henley offers its services globally through 30 offices worldwide with over 300 employees. “Demand for our services keeps growing as interest in alternative residence or citizenship expands, especially here in Asia, with its diverse array of countries and jurisdictions and cultures, and with Asia’s very rapid expansion of HNWI numbers and their wealth.”

She reported that Henley was founded by the Swiss lawyer Christian Kälin. “He is known as the ‘Passport King’ as per a Bloomberg report from 2015. This is because he is actually the founder of the concept of citizenship by investment, which as I mentioned is different in scope from residence by investment."

Ma explained that Henley works for those HNWIs and their families seeking investment migration, as well as working on behalf of governments to create or promote their programmes. "We have in our portfolio over 30 something countries that have either residence by citizenship or citizenship by investment programmes,” she reported. “The origins were back in 1997 when our founder advised the Swiss government, later advising the Canadian and the British governments. We have since worked with many jurisdictions, for example in the Caribbean, countries such as St. Kitts and Nevis, with which we created a programme in 2006.”

“I am here today to explain to you in the wealth management community how we can work together to expand the range of services and options available to your HNWI clients,” she explained. “We believe that citizenship and residency planning are closely related to sophisticated wealth and succession planning. Why? Because HNWIs today, with globalisation, need and want to move around, they need to be flexible, they need to be able to be a global citizen. And here in Vietnam, there will be greater diversity in the future in terms of wealth and assets and therefore smart citizenship and residence planning will help these clients adopt a better strategy for their assets and their lifestyles worldwide.”

And in terms of the relationship to wealth advisers, Ma explained that Henley pays referral fees to the introducers. “But remember,” she added, “it is not just a monetary advantage here, it is the reputation. We have solutions your clients will be interested in and a reputation that is the best in the market.  Aside from St. Kitts and Nevis we now count more than 10 citizenship by investment programmes worldwide in our advisory portfolio. We are trustworthy and the most experienced in this business.”


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