Yet another CD supposedly containing stolen Swiss bank data is being hawked around state governments in Germany… prompting a German politician to comment that stealing private financial data should not become a ‘popular sport.’
Meanwhile UBS is investing heavily in new ad campaigns targeting new markets, suggesting that it has ‘drawn a line’ under the tax evasion scandal that dominated has dominated the last couple of years and is ready to move on to new (non-US) markets,
In fact, more and more Swiss and other European private banks are looking toward the Asian wealth management market – with Singapore being the preferred launchpad into the coveted mainland China growth area. Some people in the west seem to think that all Chinese live in poverty on subsistence wages – while many do, out of those billion people there are many thousands of millionaires who have profited from all the money flowing into China from the west. These individuals are keen to keep their money in safe places out of the reach of the Chinese government. This target market is the new gold rush for Swiss and other private offshore banks…
And where better to base operations than Singapore? The Singapore government is building on its now firmly established base as an international financial centre. New legislation, for example, allows Singapore banks to move into associated businesses previously closed to them, like company formation, and trust and corporate administration. (Tip: Visit our Singapore jurisdiction info page)
We’ve long said that the vast majority people going offshore these days do so for completely legitimate reasons and in compliance with their local tax legislation. People who open offshore bank accounts these days are probably more interested in asset protection and capital preservation than anything to do with tax – and if they are looking for ways to legally reduce tax, they will do so through structured and legal offshore tax planning tools like corporations, offshore LLCs, foundations and annuities.
Perhaps not surprisingly, however, people are increasingly leary of Switzerland. Privacy is still an important part of international expatriation planning, and the general perception is that privacy is under threat in Switzerland. It’s not surprising therefore that there’s increasing interest from North America in private banking in Singapore. Our article How to Open an Offshore Bank Account in Singapore has been consistently the most popular article on this blog for months.
While European account holders are not the target market of Singapore banks, their accounts are generally welcome, provided they take the time to jump on a plane and go and open the account in person. What about American account holders? Are American account holders welcome in Singapore banks? The same generally applies, but the selection of banks willing to work with Americans is smaller, and the entry level in terms of minimum deposits is generally higher.
In some cases it is possible to open accounts by mail, but this is very difficult in Singapore. Of more interest, however, is the possibility to open an account via a representative office. Representative offices are basically foreign sales offices, often staffed by private bankers who are also involved in the day-to-day management of accounts for high net worth individuals. For example, a Swiss-owned Singapore bank might have a repesentative office in Switzerland that you could deal with on a day-to-day basis. This makes the account opening process easier (not so far to travel) and also alleviates problems with the huge time zone difference between North America and Singapore.
If you would like to know more about opening a private offshore bank account, we recommend consulting our Practical Offshore Banking Guide, available free to Q Wealth Members. To keep up to date on matters surrounding private banking, offshore accounts and the like – in Switzerland, Singapore and elsewhere – you can subscribe to our free weekly newsletter Q Bytes or add this blog to your RSS feed.
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