Specialist HNW Wealth Advisory Melbourne Capital Group Builds its Name in Southeast Asia
Reuben van Dijk is a Director of Melbourne Capital Group, a company that specialises in providing bespoke financial solutions for high-net-worth individuals and families. He met with Hubbis recently to explain that throughout 2022, the company had seen significant growth and success during its expansion into the ASEAN region. Originally from Australia, their expertise is in structuring and implementing complex financial plans, including asset management, offshore structures, holding companies, multinational commercial agreements, and complex financing structures. The firm now has offices in Melbourne, Kuala Lumpur and Thailand and sees the ASEAN markets as the future source of much of its growth.
Reuben explains that ultimately the proposition of Melbourne Capital Group (Melbourne) is about both managing clients’ wealth and managing its transition to future generations. He says many of their clients are embarking on the passage from hands-on business creators and builders to investors in other businesses through the public and private markets, with an increasing focus on ESG and maximising both financial returns as well as achieving impact and contributing in a positive way to society at large.
“As they do so, we are also layering in the appropriate estate and legacy structures to help ensure these clients are compliant with regulations and taxation, wherever they might be, and put in place the right entities, life insurance and other elements that will help transition wealth to family members and their younger generations,” he explains.
Centres of excellence and stability
He adds that they house many structures in mature offshore centers such as the Channel Islands, and with custody carefully assigned to quality institutions in major financial centers such as London.
Reuben explains that he and his partners brought their different skills together to create the business in 2019. Melbourne today holds an Australian Financial Services licence which permits it to carry on a financial services business in Australia and is also authorised and regulated by the Labuan Financial Services Authority (LFSA) as an Insurance Broker. “The two licenses allow us to serve HNW clients and families in Australia and Southeast Asia in particular, which is our key focus as there is such a strong need from clients,” he reports.
The firm has offices in Bangkok, Malaysia, and Melbourne, with the majority of private clients based in the ASEAN countries, and with the corporate advisory business mostly based in Australia, from which they provide services to bring VC, private equity and private debt together for businesses they work with. He says they are also expanding corporate advisory for SE Asia clients seeking funds, for example for new projects such as solar power.
Independent and objective
Reuben explains that Melbourne prides itself on its independence and also transparency, and in these regards, he says they stand out compared with the transactional, often high-fee and low-transparency operators in many parts of the ASEAN region.
“There is too little knowledge of global issues and regulations and practices amongst local operators, who so often charge excessive fees and are not really aligned with their clients,” he comments.
“We focus on objectivity and make sure we align with the client and help them safely and productively navigate the complex landscape of financial markets. We want to be sitting down for dinner with these clients in the many years ahead, with both parties feeling that they have benefitted from the relationship.”
Reuben points to keeping their focus intently on the success of their clients as the first priority, noting that delivering value and optimising outcomes are paramount elements in growing the business. our clients.
The second key mission is to stay on top of the global capital markets. “We are transitioning from a unipolar world to a multipolar world, with the re-emergence of viable debt markets and major changes in rates and inflation, challenging assumptions and behaviour patterns of the past several decades,” he comments.
The third objective is to keep abreast of and ahead of global regulation and taxation. “We have the global economy transition, and now there is the globalisation of the tax systems, and that means careful scrutiny of jurisdictions, of changes in emphasis, and agility for the clients and for our advice,” he explains.
He closes the conversation by commenting on Melbourne’s added value for clients and the reasons HNWIs come to work with the firm. “Big money can translate to big headaches for many people, and navigating all these complexities of markets, products, regulation, structures, compliance, and so forth is increasingly tough,” he says.
“Many of our clients are incredibly smart, driven people who have built great businesses, but they then need to focus on safeguarding and building their investible wealth for themselves and their younger family generations, and it is not easy for them. They realise they need our advice, we build trust with them, and we deliver on our promises to them,” he concludes.
Reuben hails from Tasmania, which he says was home to many well-known Australian cricketers, including the feisty and brilliant Ricky Ponting. He lived there and completed all his studies, including earning his associate degree in accounting from the University of Tasmania and a Diploma in Financial Services, before moving to Sydney, where he was involved in the derivatives brokerage space for a few years. He then moved to Southeast Asia, working as on technological infrastructure for commodities and derivatives trading in the region. That led him later to the wealth management space.
He recalls his early years in SE Asia with fondness, explaining that the mission was helping the rocket scientist-type quant traders, travelling all around Southeast Asia and helping the hedge funds build their derivatives infrastructure. “It gave me a fantastic insight into what are people actually doing with capital,” he reports.
Reuben remains resolutely single and enjoys his leisure time travelling and enjoying fine dining, meeting plenty of clients in different markets along the way. Quiet moments might see him reading classical literature, with a fondness for Greek philosophy. “But that is really secondary to meeting new people, enjoying new experiences, learning about new cultures, and, of course, partaking of some fine cuisine,” he says
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