Objectway ships new version of Illumas digital investment management platform

Two years after its launch, this new version of ILLUMAS is designed to answer to the new challenges and increasing complexity currently facing the Private Wealth Management Industry.

ILLUMAS 1.1 is immediately available to the market, as it has already successfully gone live at one of our major customers.

The new version implements an innovative concept of integrated platform supporting the complete front-to-back digital investment management process, from onboarding to ongoing client servicing through six components.

ILLUMAS Digital experience, based on a customised version of Conectus, enables a coherent and functionally rich user experience for clients, agents or advisors.

The Portfolio manager component relies on a customised version of eXimius to provide portfolio management features, extended to connect to several new execution platforms, to enhance the compliance module and increase the processing of big orders volumes.

ILLUMAS CRM leverages on Client Engage to manage the whole on-boarding process through a compliant set of defined stages, such as gathering data, suitability review and mandate setting.

Furthermore, the Investment Operations component sunsets and replaces the rhymeSIGHT product with a fully integrated, seamless accounting and administration system supporting middle and back-office investments operations. A set of new features improves the navigation and user experience thanks to the opportunity to ‘favorite’ many different items and through simultaneous and multiple application access.

Two brand-new components enrich the solution.
ILLUMAS Business Reporting retrieves information directly from production data, enabling investment managers to make decisions based on real-time analysis, customisable according to specific requirements.

The Expat platform is designed for offshore investments administration firms that want to provide a digital platform to Expat IFAs, to onboard a new client and manage new business applications on a diverse range of offshore services with a paperless digital process. The multi-currency, 24/7 online access platform supports the business for expats from any country in the world.

“With ILLUMAS 1.1 we allow our customers to make substantial improvements in operation processes and efficiencies, while providing a certified and fast information flow throughout the key front, middle and back office functions enabling their digital transformation,” affirmed Alberto Cuccu, Chief Client Solution Officer of Objectway. “The new version of ILLUMAS offers a very intuitive user experience and a user-friendly navigation. The seamless real-time flow of information between the different components enables all stakeholders – clients, advisors, portfolio managers and operations – to run their business and digitally collaborate with the others, downsizing the increasing complexity of the industry.”

Australia’s Seek in talks to buy out James Packer’s stake in Chinese jobs site

Seek didnt offer an explanation for the move, but said it and private equity firms Hillhouse Capital Group and FountainVest Partners are in advanced discussions with a special committee of the board of Zhaopin about taking the company private.

While Seek has been expanding overseas, Mr Packer has been cutting back his offshore investments, in China in particular, since the authorities there arrested 18 of his Crown Resorts casino staff in October amid a gambling crackdown.

In December, Crown cancelled a spin-off listing of its offshore casinos and said it was instead selling down its stake in the Chinese gambling hub Macau.

Zhaopin, which Seek partially sold in a listing in 2013, said in a separate statement that it was discussing the potential deal but was uncertain if the parties would reach an agreement.

Five key differences between real and fake investments

As with anything that involves money and risk, investing has never been a straightforward matter – if it were, everyone would be richer.

It is a skill. It takes know-how to get to grips with the detail and the pitfalls. Only time and experience teaches you how to tell the difference between a great opportunity and a massive gamble; when its worth pursuing despite the odds, and when to cut your losses and quit.

You might be one of the savvy ones. Perhaps you know your Pyramid from your Ponzi scheme, Forex from Binary Trading, Pump and Dump from Offshore Investments. The bad news is, financial fraudsters are trained to take whatever knowledge you have and build on it.

After all, this is why you pay a legitimate investment advisor to sift through the small print and pinpoint the opportunity that is ideal for you.

So here are five key differences between real and fake investment opportunities.

The website lacks a certain authenticity
It is professionally put together, you can call the number and reach a receptionist, but there may still be warning signs.

Perform a Who Is search. If the owner, address or registration details dont match the details on the website (or theyve paid to keep them hidden), something fishy is going on. A legitimate company is happy to let you know where they are based.

China’s crackdown on capital outflows could hit the Aussie property market hard

The Chinese government’s extensive crackdown on money exiting the country could hit the Australian property market hard, as private Chinese investors could experience problems settling on deals, KPMG’s China experts recently warned.

“There might be some problems in the residential real estate property markets in Australia and other centres where Chinese have been buying property,” Simon Gleave, KPMG’s head of financial services in China, told The Australian.

Gleave said KPMG was still monitoring developments to assess the full implications of tighter controls on capital outflows, which were announced late last year by various Chinese government departments.

The measures, which involve the stricter monitoring of existing rules and a crackdown on the nature of overseas investments by private and state-owned enterprises, were designed to help stabilise the renminbi, following record amounts of capital exiting the country.

“Last year an estimated [$1.04 trillion] flowed out of China. It is an astonishing amount of money to be leaving the country when you have a closed capital account,” Gleave said.

Stringent controls could deal a serious blow to the offshore investments made by private Chinese companies, particularly if Chinese authorities consider these investments to be speculative rather than as part of the core business.

Under the new measures, an offshore investment by a state-owned enterprise in its core areas would be approved, such as a state-owned bank buying into an offshore bank. On the other hand, if a company was looking to make a very large offshore transaction or one outside its core business (such as a state-owned bank investing in mining), then authorities would take a much tougher approach to requests to take foreign exchange out of the country.

Beijing’s crackdown follows a plummet in the country’s level of foreign exchange reserves, from approximately US$4trn in mid-2014 to approximately US$3trn at the moment.

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Bitcoin (BTC/USD) Price Technical Analysis for February 17, 2017

Investors are still generally cautious about putting funds back in bitcoin after all the goings-on in China. This is the largest bitcoin market in the world so anything that happens locally would have repercussions on global bitcoin activity. Earlier in the year, government authorities stepped up their efforts to curb bitcoin activity as part of their goal to reduce offshore investments and speculative yuan positioning.

This forced bitcoin to return a lot of its recent gains throughout January, although a rebound occurred when authorities seemed to ease up on their regulatory moves. However, bitcoin price tanked once more when a couple of major exchanges in the mainland were prompted to halt client withdrawals in compliance with ongoing investigations. This led traders to liquidate their holdings and be extra cautious when going long.

With that, liquidity has been significantly weighed down in the past few weeks so this low volatility environment could be the norm for bitcoin, unless any major industry updates pop up. So far, the industry has been showing positive developments in terms of bitcoin acceptance in the mainstream and on Wall Street. Aside from that, geopolitical risks in the West stemming from the Trump administration and the upcoming French elections are also keeping bitcoin supported. Foreseen financial troubles in Greece and Italy could also shore up demand for the cryptocurrency in the coming weeks.

On the flip side, factors that dampen bitcoin gains are that of Fed rate hike expectations for March which would boost dollar demand and anticipation for Trump’s tax reform plan which would encourage traders to put money in US assets instead. Of course there’s also the threat of Chinese regulation on bitcoin or penalties on clients that could further undo bitcoin gains.

Trump Administration’s Perception in the UK

It’s fair to say that Donald Trump’s surprise victory in the US Election in November was not universally welcomed. In the UK, it was widely reported that as the result unfolded, the Canadian immigration website crashed because of high levels of traffic. The UK immigration website stayed active, but we are seeing increased numbers of enquiries from US residents about coming to the UK.

Speaking alongside Google boss Sundar Pichai in November, London Mayor Sadiq Khan said

If talented people based in the US want to come here to London, my message is simple – London is open.

And despite Brexit uncertainties, the UK has a strong economy; a stable government; world class financial and judicial systems and is well located for easy access to east and west. Coupled with a strong real estate market and a vibrant cultural scene, it’s an attractive place to live.

So, whether you are considering a first-time move to the UK or if you’re an ex-pat thinking of returning, here are top ten legal and tax tips to bear in mind:

  1. If you don’t have a UK domicile of origin, the UK tax regime can be friendly (for 15 years at least), and foreign assets can be excluded from tax here if the structuring is correct.
  2. Becoming UK tax resident can result in family trusts becoming UK tax resident for income tax and capital gains tax due to residence rules for trusts being based on the residence of individual trustees. ‘Living Trusts’ are popular in the US, but inadvertently importing such a trust by moving here can trigger adverse tax consequences. It may be enough to appoint new non-UK trustees, but care should be taken to avoid unforeseen consequences.
  3. If you are a US-dwelling Brit, you may immediately re-acquire UK domicile on your return to the UK, rendering your worldwide assets subject to inheritance tax, income tax and capital gains tax in the UK. Further, if you were UK tax resident and have spent less than 5 years outside of the UK, you can find income and gains arising during that period of non-residence can become subject to UK tax on your return to the UK.
  4. Complexity (and a tax charge) can arise on death where one spouse is UK domiciled, but the other is not. There are some solutions, but these need careful planning.
  5. Acquiring a UK home through a company (which has long been favoured by non-domiciled individuals) now carries a high tax cost – extra taxes arise in the form of the Annual Tax on Enveloped Dwellings, additional Stamp Duty Land Tax – and no longer removes it from the scope of Inheritance Tax on death. Make sure you look into the true tax cost of acquiring property in advance.
  6. Timing is important. There are new rules on the tax treatment of individuals arriving in the UK part way through a tax year (our tax year runs from 6 April in one year to 5 April the next). Mostly this can be managed, but it is a trap for the unwary.
  7. If you are a US resident with offshore investments, you should check that your investments are structured to ensure clean capital, income and capital gains are segregated into identifiable accounts, before arriving in the UK. This is important for non UK-domiciled individuals who are taxed on the remittance basis in the UK and may need to bring non-UK funds into the UK. This forward planning can result in a much lower UK tax outcome on remitted funds.
  8. Subject to local tax issues, it may be advisable to realise income and latent gains before you become resident in the UK, to secure optimum tax treatment between the two jurisdictions.
  9. If you are acquiring assets in England, particularly real estate, you should make an English Will. If you’re retaining assets in the US, it’s sensible to have a separate US Will.
  10. If you’ve entered into a pre- or post-nuptial agreement, have it reviewed by a UK lawyer. Although these arrangements can be binding in the UK, they need to follow strict criteria to carry any weight.

There is clearly going to be complexity in switching between two sophisticated jurisdictions such as the US and UK. But it’s a well-trodden path, and much of the complexity can be managed. Most important of all is to take advice early and to ensure your advisers in both countries talk to each other and understand what matters most to you.

China Regulator Urges Insurers to Avoid ‘Reckless’ Offshore Investments: Report

A senior Chineseinsuranceregulator warned against the industry’s reckless overseas investment, saying some insurers behaved recklessly when it came to offshore acquisitions, the official Securities Times reported on Thursday.

Chen Wenhui, vice chairman of the ChinaInsuranceRegulatory Commission (CIRC) urged insurers to take a cautious approach when investing overseas, the newspaper said.

UK tax reforms make Bermuda trusts appealing

The Bermuda trust is a popular estate planning vehicle for private clients wishing to structure their affairs in a tax efficient manner. There are a whole host of reasons why this is so, including asset protection, preservation of wealth for future generations, confidentiality, settlor reservation of control, ensuring business continuity, protection of vulnerable heirs and prudent succession planning.

Now, there is another reason.

On April 6 2017 widespread reforms to UK tax rules for UK resident but non-domiciled individuals and their property holding structures are scheduled to take effect. From April 6 (the beginning of the new UK tax year), individuals who have been resident in the UK for 15 of the previous 20 tax years will become “deemed domiciled” for all UK tax purposes under the proposed changes. These individuals will become subject to UK tax on their worldwide personal income and gains. In addition their worldwide personal assets will become subject to UK inheritance tax on their death.

An individual wishing to break the deeming provisions will need to leave the UK for six complete tax years before returning to the UK and restarting the clock, or three years (for inheritance tax purpose only) where there is no intention to return to the UK.

Many UK advisors are recommending the use of offshore trusts settled with suitable assets before an individual becomes UK deemed domiciled on April 6 under the so called “protected trust” rules. A Bermuda trust is one such example.

The settlor of a protected trust will generally be exempt from UK income tax (on the trust’s foreign income) and UK capital gains tax (on the trust’s UK or non-UK gains). This benefit can be incredibly attractive to a non-UK domiciliary who subsequently acquires UK deemed domicile status and wishes to protect assets from UK tax.

However, the key proviso in order to benefit from these tax exemptions is that the settlor may not subsequently add property or income to the trust (‘tainting’ rules), with some very limited exceptions. The settlor will be subject to tax if they receive amounts from the trust as will other beneficiaries. Care needs to be taken if there have been capital distributions prior to April 6 2017 as these can come into charge in certain circumstances. Anti-avoidance measures are being introduced to tax the settlor on distributions to ‘close family members’ (essentially minor children and spouse/civil partner/cohabitee) if the amount does not come into charge because, say, the recipient is non-UK resident.

Trusts established by an individual before becoming UK deemed domiciled also provide UK inheritance tax savings. Generally the settlor will not be subject to UK inheritance tax on the non-UK assets of the trust provided that no funds are added to the trust by the settlor (after becoming deemed domiciled) in any way. UK assets will be protected if held via a non-UK company except for UK residential property, which will always be subject to UK inheritance tax under new rules to be introduced in April.

Protected status is only available to offshore trusts and not to directly-held investments or offshore companies. This creates a planning opportunity for non-domiciled individuals who risk becoming deemed domiciled in April. Where they hold offshore investments, either directly or through an offshore company, they could consider settling these assets into a Bermuda trust prior to April 6 in order to benefit from prudent tax planning.

Unfortunately, returning former domiciliaries (that is, individuals born in the UK with a UK domicile of origin) will be treated as domiciled in the UK for all tax purposes on their return to the UK, although there will be a short grace period with respect to inheritance tax exposure on their worldwide assets. These individuals will also not be able to benefit from the new protected trust regime — and worse, trusts of which they are settlor effectively fall into the UK tax net, including for inheritance tax.

The upcoming rules are creating quite a stir in the private client and trust community. Advisors and trustees are busy restructuring existing trusts with a view to benefiting different family beneficiaries who may be materially affected as a result of the April tax changes. Splitting of existing trusts may also be desirable in order to separate trust portfolios with different investment strategies. It may be prudent to review whether past income should remain in or be distributed out of existing trust structures before the April tax changes. If UK tax is a concern then these changes should all be implemented prior to April 6 2017.

Time is fast running out for individuals who will soon become deemed domiciled under the April deeming provisions to get their affairs in order. If appropriate, and subject to receiving suitable UK tax and Bermuda legal advice, a Bermuda trust to hold non-UK assets settled prior to an individual becoming UK deemed domiciled, can be incredibly attractive in light of the looming UK tax changes.

Lawyer Vanessa Schrum is a Partner and Local Group Head of the Private Client and Trusts Practice Group at Appleby. A copy of Mrs Schrum’s column can be obtained on the Appleby website at www.applebyglobal.com.

The author would like to thank Gill Smith of Moore Stephens LLP for her contribution.

This column should not be used as a substitute for professional legal advice. Before proceeding with any matters discussed here, persons are advised to consult with a lawyer.

Xurpas buys into HK-based HR solutions firm

MB China’s current roster of clients includes Fortune 500 firms engaged in technology and consumer electronics, athletic footwear and sports equipment and other large companies with manufacturing facilities in China.

This investment is seen unlocking synergies with a local Xurpas subsidiary engaged in a similar business. Xurpas controls majority of Storm Flex Systems Inc., whose platform allows employees to exchange their standard employee benefits into a wide range of products and services, ranging from gadgets, travel packages and insurance.

“Combining the platforms of Micro Benefits and Storm Flex Systems Inc. creates a more compelling business solution fully intended to optimize their HR technology platforms which they could both offer to their clients,” said Nix Nolledo, CEO of Xurpas.

“Expansion is one of our continuing priorities, and this is a strategic move that establishes China as a new and hugely lucrative frontier for our growing enterprise business, while simultaneously allowing us to offer new solutions to companies here in Asia.”

Storm Flex Systems Inc.’s current roster of clients include the Philippines’ leading local conglomerates, financial services firms, business process outsourcing and fast-moving consumer good companies.

Xurpas has so far invested $14 million in six offshore technology companies, Nolledo said.  The investment in Micro Benefits was the fifth since Xurpas debuted on the local stock exchange on Dec. 2, 2014, then raising P1.36 billion in fresh capital.

The string of overseas buy-in deals made by Xurpas is seen part of its diversification program.

“The offshore investments represent product and territory expansion opportunities.  Most of our revenues at present come from the Philippines still but moving forward, we expect to see more and more of our growth coming from overseas,” Nolledo said. Doris Dumlao-Abadilla