STEP 2013 Board Report

Categories: Board Reports

Dear STEP Members and Fellow Professionals

Firstly a Happy and successful 2014 to all.

As 2014 kicks off with continued unseasonably warm weather your STEP Benelux Board has put together a few thoughts and statistics of the activities undertaken during the past year.

Right at the outset we were able to establish defined roles for all Members of the Board as follows:

  • Luca Tomasi Chairman and STEP Education Coordinator
  • Louise Benjamin Vice Chairman and Membership Relations
  • Fabio Gasperoni, Treasurer
  • Paolo Panico, Head of Technical Committee
  • David Moscato, Alain Nijs, Paul Shut, respectively Luxembourg, Belgium and Netherlands Liaison Officers
  • Vadim Blaustein, Media and Website Development
  • Graham Wilson, Board Member, former Chairman and Founder of STEP Benelux a.s.b.l. in 2003, Membership Communications, Mailing List, Local Events Coordinator
  • Chris Vigar, although not a member of the board, continued to act as Secretary

We were able to secure an outstanding class of speakers throughout the year culminating in a most informative presentation by Mr Xavier Bettel, now Prime Minister of Luxembourg.  As a reminder, here is a recap of the aptly named “Lunch & Learn” and “Evening Forum” events:

February 2013 Lunch & Learn

Antonello Lupo of INGAD Trust S.r.l.

“Asset Owning Structures: Trust and Holding Company – a Case Study”

March Lunch & Learn

Claude Medernach TEP, Partner at Arendt & Medernach

“Some Issues with Regard to Estate Planning and Succession in Luxembourg”

April Evening business forum

Martin Priest TEP – St Peters Trust, Guernsey

Sam Shires – Group Partner, AO Hall, Advocates Guernsey

Karl Horsburgh TEP FCA

“Image Rights Licensing: How Guernsey’s new image rights legislation can assist your clients to protect their interests and structure their affairs effectively with an insight into how to use the image rights legislation with a Luxembourg structure taking advantage of the IP tax opportunity.”

May Lunch & Learn

His Excellency Professor Mark Entin, Russian Ambassador to Luxembourg

“Recent Improvements in the Legal Environment for Doing Business in Russia”

June Lunch & Learn

Olivier Gaston-Braud, Counsel at Elvinger Hoss & Prussen

“The financial transaction tax – why should you be concerned?”

June Evening business forum

Rüdiger Jung (ABBL),

Jean Schaffner TEP (Allen & Overy) and

Alain Steichen (Bonn Steichen & Partners)

“The End of Banking Secrecy? The Future of the Luxembourg: Financial Industry in the Age of Transparency”

September Lunch & Learn

Toon Meyer TEP, Director, Lombard International Assurance

“Investor protection after Cyprus”

October Lunch & Learn

Kristina Koehler, China Director of Klako Group, International Management Consultants in China, Hong Kong and Singapore.

“Holding Jurisdictions for Investments in China”

November Lunch & Learn

Xavier Bettel, Mayor of the City of Luxembourg (and at that time Prime Minister-in-waiting)

“Strategy for the development of the City of Luxembourg: Challenges & opportunities”

 

STEP Benelux Board Meetings and Member’s roles

The STEP Benelux a.s.b.l. Board has met a total of 9 times investing no less than 30 hours during the year.  Most of the meetings were held in Luxembourg although we have also found time efficiencies in holding a couple by telephone conference.  Our Belgium and Netherlands based Members have shown great resolve in dealing with traffic jams, adverse weather conditions and time investment away from their businesses to make the meetings.

Additional time demands are made on all Board Members in the organization and the smooth running of events – particular thanks to Chris Vigar for his outstanding contribution to the success of our organization, to Kristina Kerbel of Blaustein Business Lawyers and to Corinne Tubach of Wilson Associates for their invaluable assistance.

One Belgium-based member of the board tendered his resignation having established that the time was not right for him to provide his full commitment to STEP Benelux.

 

Our Sponsors

We are grateful to Lombard International Assurance SA for their financial contribution during 2013 as well as their continued support with interesting subject matter for our monthly events.

 

STEP Education

December 2012 a number of student members undertook a week’s course in Luxembourg where Maître Claude Medernach provided the Civil Law Jurisdiction part of the training.  90% of the students successfully completed the Foundation Certificate and a number of them embarked on completing the full Diploma in International Trust Management.  Encouraged by this event we have held a number of meetings with CLT (Central Law Training – providers of training to STEP worldwide) and the Institute de Formation Bancaire Luxembourgoise (IFBL) with a view to launching the STEP Education Programme through the local provider.

These talks are ongoing and we are hoping to be able to report positively during the first quarter of 2014.

We are also engaging with the Luxembourg Chamber of Commerce to potentially offer the STEP Education programme through this channel.

 

Treasury Activities

In 2013, STEP Benelux a.s.b.l. has opened an account with Paypal in order to allow members and non-members who attend the Lunch & Learn and Evening Forums to pay their entrance fees by credit card and to receive an electronic receipt. More than 30 people have chosen so far to do so.

A system to allow attendees to manage their registrations and to download copies of their attendance certificates and invoices has been tested and will be used at our next events.  Additional information will be made available on this important development in due course.

 

Annual General Meeting

The STEP Benelux a.s.b.l. AGM will be held during the month of May. Official notification will follow going forward.

 

Next Events

Our next planned events are as follows:

  • 20 January where Dr Daniel Lehmann will present at a Lunch & Learn at Cercle Munster. The topic is “EU succession regulations and succession cases involving Luxembourg and Germany with a particular focus on forced heirship rights and foreign property”.
  • 13 February a Lunch & Learn presentation at the Cercle Munster by James O’Neal Tax Principal at AMMC Law, on “Luxembourg Tax Planning in the New ‘BEPs’ World: The Impact of Recent trends in OECD, G20, and EU Anti-Avoidance Initiatives on Luxembourg Tax Planning”.
  • 27 February, there will be a Lunch & Learn presentation, also at the Cercle Munster, by Venetia Lean, Board Director at Banque Havilland.

Cross Border Events

We are delighted to report that our Netherlands Board Members have organised the first event outside of Luxembourg:  Please mark your diaries for 20 February at 16:00 either in Rotterdam. The event will be held in Dutch. Further information to follow.

Please also look out for a bimonthly newsletter, also in Dutch, which is being developed.

 

Website Development

We are delighted to report a well-designed, up-to-date and informative new website with links to Twitter and LinkedIn with a useful countdown clock to the next event.

Please see http://stepbenelux.org

 

Technical Updates

Those of you who have attended events will certainly be familiar with the Technical Updates provided by Paolo Panico TEP during the monthly events.  We trust you find these a good reference point or reminder of topical issues to our industry.

Paolo, as Head of Technical Committee, has also submitted for approval the Qualified Practitioner Route to membership for trust and estate practitioners who have established themselves in their field, allowing experienced practitioners to demonstrate their knowledge in order to become a Full Member.  The considerable investment of time has earned the following comment from STEP London Membership Executive:

“The membership committee reviewed STEP Benelux’ topics and thought that they were very impressive.  The topics have been approved and will be published on the STEP website in January for any Qualified Practitioner students to use.” 

Please do visit http://www.step.org/qp to find out more on how to become a full member of STEP or contact any of the STEP Benelux a.s.b.l. Members through our website who will guide you through the various steps.

 

Media Coverage

Excellent media coverage of STEP events was provided in Lux Chronicle, www.chronicle.lu, and lately also the Luxemburger Wort and Delano.

 

Membership Fees

Current members will shortly be receiving an invoice which covers the membership to the Luxembourg a.s.b.l.

The Board has decided that the annual subscription for full members will be set at GBP40.00 and for student members at GBP20.00.  This additional cost to the normal STEP membership fees (which will be charged automatically by STEP London) covers important aspects of administering our Branch and specifically printing costs, hire of equipment for events, providing for guest speakers’ lunches as well as covering the same costs for press attendance.

We have relied in recent years on the generous sponsorship of certain Luxembourg companies and in 2013 on that of Lombard.

I hope that, in the light of all the above, you will see this as value for money and we look forward to welcoming you to our events in the coming year.

 

Attendance at events

From this year we shall operate a strict invoicing for no-shows to booked events unless cancelled with at least 24 hours’ notice.  Your STEP Benelux Board would therefore encourage you to attend every meeting that is booked.

Should you find it impossible to make it you can always send a member of your Team/Staff or nominate someone else.

Failing this we would ask that you make the payment in a timely manner once the invoice is received.

 

Membership input

All STEP members or Fellow Professionals receiving this email are welcome to present on a topical subject so we would encourage all to contact your STEP Benelux representative through our website to propose subjects and dates.

Finally, your STEP Benelux Board would welcome any suggestions, again through our website link, for improvements to the structure of the events or anything else you think could be done better.

Thank you for your support during 2013.

We have come a long way since the Branch was founded and it is our intention to continue improve our standing and contribution in the BeNeLux region and to provide our members and other professionals in the wealth management and structuring sector with top class events as well as promoting STEP’s values and educational programmes in Luxembourg, Belgium and the Netherlands.

We look forward to your continued support in order to make our growing Branch an even more successful Chapter of STEP Worldwide.

 

Sincerely 

The Board, STEP Benelux a.s.b.l.

Author: STEP BeNeLux