"Does my family office need a licence in Singapore?" – Clarity from MAS is now given

13 Feb 2017 LegisWatch

On 6 February 2017, the Monetary Authority of Singapore ("MAS") issued new Frequently Asked Questions on the Licensing and Registration of Fund Management Companies (the "FMC FAQs"). This update to the FMC FAQs clarifies the regulatory treatment for single family offices ("SFOs") in Singapore and is much welcomed as it brings much needed clarity and thereby enhances Singapore’s position as an attractive jurisdiction for the establishment of family offices serving wealthy families in the region as well as demonstrates Singapore’s commitment to deepening its asset and wealth management industry.

The term ‘family office’ is not defined under existing Singapore legislation. Generally, a family office is an entity which carries out the day-to-day administration and management of the assets and investments of ultra-high-net-worth individuals or families for the purposes of wealth preservation and enhancement for their future generations. Ultra-high-net-worth individuals or families may hire professionally-qualified employees to manage their wealth or they may enter into arrangements with professional advisors for wealth management services in structuring their family office.

Lawyers in Singapore have taken dichotomous views about the applicability of regulatory exemptions for professional advisors providing wealth management services as family offices, with the most conservative view being that all persons who manage funds for a customer, are considered to be carrying out fund management activities which is a regulated activity under the Securities and Futures Act (Chapter 289 of Singapore) (the "SFA"). At WongPartnership LLP, we have always taken a considered and informed approach in our advice to managers and operators of family offices to avail of the related corporation exemption under the Securities and Futures (Licensing and Conduct of Business) Regulations if the family office carries on business in fund management for another related entity within the same corporate group structure and none of the assets under management are beneficially held for, or the benefit of the fund management services given to, any entities or persons outside the group. Clarity has arrived now that the FMC FAQs are published.       

If you have any queries or would like to know more about how these changes may impact you, please contact:

SIM Bock Eng
Head – Specialist & Private Client Disputes Practice
d +65 6416 8108
e bockeng.sim@wongpartnership.com
Click here to see Bock Eng's CV.

HUI Choon Yuen
Head – Debt Capital Market Practice
Partner - Financial Services Regulatory
d +65 6416 8204
e choonyuen.hui@wongpartnership.com
Click here to see Choon Yuen's CV.

KHOO Yuh Huey
Partner – Private Wealth and Capital Markets
d +65 6416 2548
e yuhhuey.khoo@wongpartnership.com
Click here to see Yuh Huey's CV.

Felicia Marie NG
Partner – Asset Management & Funds Practice
d +65 6416 8203
e felicia.ng@wongpartnership.com
Click here to see Felicia's CV.