Singapore Business Review - - FIRST -

When Sin­ga­pore’s high net worth in­di­vid­u­als, or HNWIS, were asked whether they have a full wealth trans­fer plan in place, only around a fifth an­swered in the af­fir­ma­tive, no­tably lower than the Asia-wide av­er­age of around a third. In fact, Sin­ga­pore’s HNWIS are the least pre­pared when it comes to hav­ing com­pre­hen­sive wealth trans­fer plans amongst all Asian coun­tries sur­veyed, ac­cord­ing to RBC Wealth Man­age­ment’s new Asia Pa­cific Wealth Trans­fer Re­port. This rings alarm bells for wealth man­age­ment ex­perts who warn that sim­ply hav­ing a will in place may no longer be ad­e­quate prepa­ra­tion for HNWIS.

Tho Gea Hong, head of wealth man­age­ment South­east Asia at RBC Wealth Man­age­ment, ex­plained that with HNW fam­i­lies spread­ing their wings to take ad­van­tage of op­por­tu­ni­ties around the world, their wealth may be spread across mul­ti­ple ju­ris­dic­tions or they may have in­her­i­tors liv­ing in dif­fer­ent coun­tries. This tends to com­pli­cate the trans­fer of wealth since trans­fer­ring cross­bor­der as­sets is not as straight­for­ward as on­shore as­sets. “Many are de­lay­ing putting in place a proper plan as it is not as straight­for­ward and they do not have prece­dent knowl­edge on how to struc­ture it. Some also avoid it as they do not want to think about their even­tual demise.”said Hong.

The re­port also noted that a higher per­cent­age of HNW Sin­ga­pore­ans—60% com­pared to 36% in Asia—also have no con­di­tions at­tached to the trans­fer of wealth. Hong said Sin­ga­pore’s rel­a­tively high per­cent­age mir­rors more closely to the West, where 74% of fam­i­lies do not have any con­di­tions at­tached to the trans­fer of wealth. Sin­ga­pore re­spon­dents also do not make the next gen­er­a­tion aware of their wishes and plans for trans­fer­ring their wealth. Hong said this could leave Sin­ga­porean heirs “some­what adrift” when the time comes to trans­fer wealth, so early dis­cus­sions of­ten prove ben­e­fi­cial.

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