Volek began his talk by reinforcing the long history of Henley & Partners (Henley) in the specialised field of global citizenship and residence planning.
“Our private practice focuses on the needs of high net worth (HNW) and ultra-HNW clients, and their families, seeking secondary residence or citizenship through investment. We are the global leader, we have a history of more than two decades and we operate from 30 offices around the world,” Volek reported to the delegates.
Volek’s responsibilities encompass Southeast Asia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and down to Australia and New Zealand. “Interestingly,” he explained, “the Philippines is actually our biggest client market in this region.”
Volek reported that one core motivation for Filipino clients is greater travel freedom. “This country actually ranks down at number 75 in the Henley Passport Index rankings, implying that travellers from here will often be applying for visas around the world,” he noted. “As I am South African, I strongly empathise with my local clients here and the concept of obtaining residence, or even better, citizenship and a secondary passport, is going to dramatically improve visa free travel potential for this market.”
Volek noted that a great advantage in the Philippines is that its citizens are allowed dual citizenship, whereas in many countries in Asia there are restrictions.
Aside from visa free travel, Volek explained that many local clients are also aiming to achieve what he terms the Plan B. “The Philippines is a wonderful place to live, especially if you are wealthy, and it is important to note that obtaining residence and citizenship overseas does not require moving to a new country, depending of course on which jurisdiction we aim for. There are plenty of excellent options, including Cyprus and Malta within the EU and several options in the Caribbean that offer residence or citizenship via investment and, importantly, that require our clients to spend little to no time in those countries.”
Volek explained that these solutions can, and very often do, also include the closest and even somewhat extended family members. “It is achieving the ultimate flexibility for our clients that motivates us, whether those clients actively use their new residence or passport options, or whether they keep those options for the potential of a difficult time ahead. Henley is the expert at tailoring the best solutions and seeing the clients through the whole process.” Volek also explained that in a more globalised and more highly regulated world, clients should not consider this as a means of reducing their tax liabilities. “New regulation and compliance requirements across the globe might not have spread to every country, but the reach is extending all the time,” he said. “Tax planning should be carefully considered throughout.”
Volek closed his talk by explaining that, across the region, Henley works closely with wealth management intermediaries, many of which introduce Henley to their clients. “We are eager to spend time with advisers and educate them into the excellent rationale for their clients to take these steps and the best options currently available.,” he concluded.