Why US institutions have trust in Guernsey

Guernsey has had a long association with leading US institutions which have selected the island for their branches and subsidiaries, says Roddy Balfour, Equiom Private Office – which is why the islands are considered a good place for Americans to do business.

Roddy Balfour, Equiom. (24890599)
Roddy Balfour, Equiom. (24890599)

It is believed, however, that when Virtus Trust, now part of Equiom Group, obtained a US trust licence in South Dakota in 2009, this was the first time a Guernsey-domiciled fiduciary group had formed a US subsidiary.

This was a deliberate initiative at a time when many international institutions turned their back on US private client business.

But at just the moment, ironically, the global trust industry woke up to the attractions of the US through states such as South Dakota, Delaware and Wyoming.

These attractions included very strong statutes covering asset protection and direction of the trustee regarding investments.

The latter offers greater protection for the trustee than a reserved power trust under most Anglo-Saxon-based trust laws.

Separately, the revisions to US tax laws in 1997 resulted in US persons (including dual nationals) needing to hold assets and resulting gains and income through US vehicles since not doing so became disadvantageous and in some circumstances outright punitive from a US tax perspective.

The fact that Guernsey is in the GMT time-zone means it is perfectly placed to deal with US-connected business which can come from anywhere in the world – Hong Kong in our morning and California into our evening.

A key market for these US services is on our doorstep, however.

London has the largest concentration of US persons outside of the USA itself, many of them in highly paid positions and needing wealth structuring.

Equiom Trust’s US offering, with liaison through Guernsey and a decade of global experience in the field, means that the island, which is also home to many investment funds with US directors, managers and sponsors, is the first jurisdiction many clients and advisors with US issues will be drawn to.

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