Isle of Man: The Family Office: What, Why And Who?

Last Updated: 23 March 2016
Article by Bruce Watterson

Families are becoming more and more mobile. There are many attractive residence schemes available around the world and family members are increasingly living in different countries. As this trend continues the management and control of family wealth across jurisdictions, in a tax efficient manner, becomes even more important.

Dixcart provides family office services from a number of offices, with the Dixcart office in Guernsey having supplied such services for over forty years.

What is a Family Office?

A family office is generally a private company that manages investments and trusts for a single wealthy family. The company's financial capital is the family's own wealth, often accumulated over many generations.

Services typically organised by a traditional family office include property management, day-to-day accounting, payroll and management of legal affairs. In addition family offices generally provide family management services, which include family governance, financial and investment advice, coordination of philanthropic activities and succession planning. A number of family offices also provide personal services such as managing household staff and making travel arrangements.

Family Office Services

In summary, family office services generally involve the management of the following activities:

  • Accounting and reporting: the family office needs to provide timely and accurate accounting, tax and performance reporting.
  • "Concierge" services: a variety of services typically including bill-paying, making travel arrangements and property management.
  • Coordinated estate, tax, trust and insurance planning.
  • Direct investments: many families will have made their money through operating a business, real estate developments, private equity investing or entrepreneurial activities. Such activities can continue and be extended to increase the family's wealth through direct investments in similar enterprises.
  • Management of family owned businesses: a forum for discussing how such businesses will be managed and governed.
  • Investment management: a primary task is to manage the wealth effectively on a large scale and over many decades. This is probably the most challenging and critical issue for most families.
  • Education of younger generations about their future responsibilities.
  • Philanthropy: the pursuit of fulfilling charitable projects for the family.

A professionally organised family office can also often assist in avoiding inter and cross-generational conflict.

What Should You be Looking for in a Family Office Provider?

There are a number of important points to take into account when selecting a provider of family office services for either yourself or a client. It is vital to choose:

  • Professional expertise in asset management, taxation and succession planning.
  • A legal or fiduciary professional who is not tied in to any one bank, investment manager or fund adviser. This helps to ensure impartiality of advice and also allows for the selection of appropriate third party support, free from any conflict of interest.
  • Providers who have multi-jurisdictional coverage either through their own offices or through a global network or association membership. This helps achieve a well coordinated organisation of a family's global affairs.
  • A provider with proven experience in dealing with family office positions or, at minimum, complex, multi-jurisdictional and multi-generational structures.

The Use of Guernsey or the Isle of Man for a Family Office

Guernsey and the Isle of Man are popular jurisdictions for the provision of family office services. Dixcart Trust Corporation Limited, located in Guernsey, has been offering such services for over forty years and Dixcart Management (IOM) Limited is also very experienced in this area. There are a number of reasons why Guernsey and the Isle of Man are attractive locations for a family office:

  • Guernsey and the Isle of Man offer the quality and quantity of experienced professionals required to manage family offices competently.
  • Foundations are available in both Guernsey and the Isle of Man. Private trust foundations can offer a simplified structure and reduced administration costs. On establishment a foundation has its own legal personality, independent from that of its founder and any foundation officials.
  • Guernsey and the Isle of Man are attractive tax jurisdictions and both offer a zero/ten/twenty tax regime. The effective rate of corporation tax is zero for the majority of companies. The exception applies to a limited number of domestic companies who pay a ten or twenty percent rate. In addition there is no capital gains tax and no inheritance tax in either jurisdiction.
  • Both Guernsey and the Isle of Man offer legal and financial regulatory systems which are highly regarded across the world. They also feature consistently highly in independent evaluations, such as those from the IMF.
  • Both jurisdictions have a good reputation as international business centres and offer political and economic stability.

Trust Services Available from Dixcart Offices

International clients can take advantage of Dixcart trust services from any one of six, fully regulated, independent trust companies located in different jurisdictions around the world:

  • Cyprus
  • Guernsey
  • Isle of Man
  • Malta
  • Nevis
  • Switzerland

Dixcart Business Centres

Often a penultimate stage in establishing a stand alone family office is directly employing appropriate staff in the jurisdiction of choice, with managed support from the fiduciary provider.

This support can include dedicated serviced office space. Dixcart operates business centres in: Guernsey, the Isle of Man, Madeira (Portugal) and Malta. These offer serviced offices and can also supply fiduciary, accounting and legal support as appropriate.

Dixcart Management (IOM) Limited is licensed by the Isle of Man Financial Services Authority

Originally published on 16 December 2015

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

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