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JPMorgan launches trust company in Singapore for Asia's ultra-rich families

JPMORGAN is launching a trust company in Singapore to support the private bank’s clients and their families in administering their wealth and planning for succession, it announced on Thursday.

The move taps on the burgeoning number of ultra-high net worth families in Asia.

Even as wealth in Asia is still relatively new compared to regions like Europe and the US, families in the region have increasingly complex needs as they invest globally, with family members residing in multiple jurisdictions. Many founders of family businesses are also looking to hand over the reins to the next generation.

Kam Shing Kwang, CEO of JPMorgan Private Bank in Asia and vice-chair of investment banking for Greater China, said that the move to set up the trust company in Singapore will enable the private bank to “serve a wider range of clients in one of the fastest, wealth-generating hubs in the world”.

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The new JPMorgan Trust Company (Singapore) will be led by Ethan Chue, who has over 24 years of experience in the areas of trust, tax & wealth and estate planning. He will report to Martin Pollock, head of international trusts & estates at JPMorgan Private Bank.

Together with four trust officers and a dedicated trust compliance officer, the Singapore team will be supported by functions within the bank in Asia, US and Europe, as well as trust company colleagues in the Bahamas.

The trust company will continue to build its team and operations in Asia and the Middle East, said JPMorgan Private Bank.

Mr Chue said: “By having a presence in Asia, we can service our clients and their families in the region more efficiently, and be more proactive in working with them to anticipate changes and plan for succession to future generations.”

Also on Thursday, JPMorgan Private Bank unveiled findings from its white paper on the impact of technological disruption on succession planning.

About four in five family businesses expect to experience "significant change" to the way their business runs due to technological advancements in the next 10 years, with data analytics, artificial intelligence (AI) and online transactions ranked as top disruptors, the survey found.

In addition, three quarters of next-generation leaders believe technology will support their family’s wealth succession. Investing in new technologies (53 per cent) and professionalising management (41 per cent) are their top priorities, with the aim of simplifying processes by streamlining documentation, monitoring assets and optimising decision-making through AI.

Among the various sectors, 92 per cent said that financial services was the most affected by tech disruptions, with real estate and construction the least impacted at 43 per cent. About a quarter of those in real estate and construction said that they have not experienced a significant change to how they functioned in the last decade.

The study polled 133 clients in Asia in 2018. About a third of respondents belong to the current generation of family business leaders and the rest from the next generation.