Michelle Wolfe Speaks at 2014 Conversation of Bermuda Licensed Trustees
May 13th 2014
The 2014 Conversation of Bermuda Licensed Trustees took place on 1st May 2014 at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club, bringing together over 50 industry leaders.
A spokesperson said, “Founded in 1994 the Bermuda Association of Licensed Trustees [BALT] is a forum for the interests of its stakeholders and acts as a representative body for all 30 companies licensed by the Bermuda Monetary Authority to carry on trust and related business in Bermuda.
“BALT makes representations to the Government and is frequently invited to deliver submissions and reports on trust legislation, fiduciary ethics, good practice and regulation of the industry.
“The Association is a key contributor to the Bermuda Business Development Agency [BDA]’s strategic plan to promote existing international commerce and actively develop new business in Bermuda.
“This year BALT celebrates 20 years of commitment to the absolute integrity and high international standing of Bermuda’s trust industry. To commemorate its service to the business community at large, BALT organized a general symposium and gathering of its members to discuss the international profile of Bermuda’s trust industry.
“The 2014 Conversation of Bermuda Licensed Trustees took place on Thursday 1 May 2014 at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club.
“The 2014 Conversation brought together over 50 industry leaders. Discussion centred on stimulating growth through legislative reform, outpacing offshore competition by creating innovative trust products, managing the swell of contentious trust litigation, responding to the administrative burden of tax information agreements and, importantly, coherently restructuring governmental regulation of the industry.
“As President of BALT Michelle Wolfe of Meritus Trust Company Limited opened the 2014 Conversation. She spotlighted that growth could only be achieved by collective action. Government and industry must work together, she stated. This became the overarching theme of the day’s conversations.
“The First Conversation reviewed recent trust law reform proposals. Alec Anderson of Conyers Dill & Pearman and chair of the Trust Law Reform Committee [TLRC] addressed this topic by summarizing current initiatives.
“Kiernan Bell of Appleby and chair of the BDA’s Law Reform Committee introduced the law reform process and emphasized that success greatly depends on the close collaboration of industry and government. Mr Anderson, Vanessa Schrum of Appleby and Randall Krebs of Meritus Trust Company Limited reviewed individual reform proposals. In conclusion, Mr Anderson stated that the thrust of the reform process is the generation of new business through innovation.
“The Second Conversation was introduced by Anthony Poulton of Baker & McKenzie, London. Mr Poulton has extensive Bermuda litigation experience and is well regarded by the local legal community. Joined by Michael McAuley of Trott & Duncan and Keith Robinson of Appleby, Mr Poulton presented an overview of today’s litigation environment much of which, in his view, arises from the generational transfer of wealth.
“After lunch the Hon. Everard T [Bob] Richards, Minister of Finance, underscored the Government’s approach to business, echoing remarks made earlier that real growth will take place only where there is a tight and concerted working relationship between Cabinet Ministers and the Public Service, on the one hand, and the business community, on the other. The Government, he said, is committed to encouraging sustained dialogue among all stakeholders. He stated that the vocation of Bermuda’s Public Service must be to foster growth which, in turn, would stimulate overall employment.
“The Third Conversation was devoted to a discussion of Bermuda’s interaction with UK and US tax reporting authorities [IRS and HMRC] especially in connection with the US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act [FATCA] and similar UK initiatives to combat evasion by tax residents using foreign accounts.
“Leah Scott, JP, MP and legal counsel of the Harbour Group of Companies led the conversation with Roy Baldwin of Smith & Williamson, London, and Richard LeVine of Withers Bergman, New Haven, to promote a spirited discussion. Attendees expressed concern that tax information exchange agreements [TIEAs] and, in general, the ever-broadening regime of international agreements to promote tax compliance [IGAs] are crushing profits and making Bermuda’s trust services more expensive and less competitive than services elsewhere offshore.
“David Cash, CEO and Derek Stapley, Director of the Bermuda Business Development Agency [BBDA] listened carefully. They stressed the importance of fast tracking new product creation in the mutual funds, re-insurance and trust sectors. They confirmed that the BBDA were committed to assisting the trust industry in improving its competitive position.
“The 2014 Conversation concluded with a lively town hall, moderated by Kim White of State House Trust Company Limited. The general sentiment was that Bermuda’s trust industry is over-regulated, in comparison to other offshore centres, and that excessive regulation is detrimental to growth.
“Michelle Wolfe, the President of BALT, noted the high attendance of industry leaders at the 2014 Conversation and thanked participants for their contribution to the afternoon’s productive and informative meeting.
“The BALT Board intends to make the Conversation an annual event.”