Offshore trustee services

| June 3, 2005

Business Articles

IFG Asia

a) Who is IFG?
IFG is an independent financial advisor firm, which assists clients in achieving their financial objectives, be it saving for retirement, school fees planning, accumulating capital, wealth management, arranging property finance or life/health insurance.

IFG Asia is part of the IFG Group which traces its routes back to Ireland in the 1960’s. It has 23 offices globally and 530 employees. It is listed on both the Dublin and London stock exchanges with a market capitalization of EUR70 million. The Group has funds under management and trust assets of approximately US$30 Billion. Our Tokyo office serves the needs of the Expatriate community in Asia.

b) Where is the Head Office?
Dublin in Ireland

c) What is your URL and contact e-mail?,,

d) What advice do you have for Businesses coming to Asia?
IFG Asia recently set up in the region and has first hand experience in establishing an operation here. It is of course vital to research the market before making the decision to invest in Asia. Even some of the big names have failed here so there is no guarantee of success in this consumer hungry economy without thoroughly knowing the behaviour of your potential customers. Then there is the very different culture of conducting business here. It is our experience that ‘doing the deal’ takes longer here and Asians are keen to establish trust through a series of sometimes protracted meetings and endless ‘social bonding’ sessions before talking business. Businessmen and women in Western countries are likely to conclude business in a shorter timeframe so patience and respect for the Asian business culture is absolutely essential and of course, cashflow forecasts must be adapted accordingly!

e) How can your firm help Ex Pats and Business’s in Asia
Our firm is specifically dedicated to addressing the financial needs of Expatriate individuals and foreign companies in Asia. Our products and services are broad and far-reaching and are specifically tailored to both individual and corporate objectives. Irrespective of residency, individuals need to address their retirement needs, protect their families should the unexpected happen, improve returns on their investments and invest in property. On a corporate level, we assist foreign companies in attracting and retaining staff through the provision of Employee Benefit Schemes which provide medical cover, pensions and life assurance as part of their remuneration package. We also offer advice in the area of protecting the ‘key persons’ of companies using Director shareholder protection and life assurance schemes. Furthermore, IFG has a specialist division providing offshore trustee services, allowing individuals and corporations to protect assets in a tax efficient manner.

Because we are an independent firm, and therefore not tied to any particular financial institution, we are able to use the resource of the entire marketplace to construct bespoke financial planning solutions to meet individual’s and companies’ specific financial objectives.

f) What are the pitfalls of doing business in Asia?
Being a multinational company and relying on suppliers and product providers in different time zones can be a frustration. Also labour laws in Asia can vary greatly and due attention and sensitivity is required in motivating and handling locally hired employees. Many Asian cultures also seem to encourage long working hours and small annual holiday allowances which are not necessarily the most effective way of maximizing efficiency and motivating staff. It is also the cultural differences on both a business and personal level which need to be handled with great care when perhaps it is easier to be more direct with Western counterparts if things need to get done in a hurry. It is much harder to fire than hire in Asia !

Naturally the language barrier can represent a challenge to the newly relocated Foreigner and certainly from a business perspective, a slightly mis-worded or wrongly phrased document can lose you a deal.

In particular relation to the financial services industry, the business environment can be very transient as clients move on from Asia or within Asia on a regular basis. However due to our global presence, our clients can continue their relationship with IFG if they leave the region.

g) What is the Economic Future for Foreign Business in Asia?
It appears that the Intra-Asian economic outlook is bright with sustained growth being seen in China and India and Foreign Direct Investment increasing in these countries. Many foreign institutions are currently also net-buyers of Japanese stocks so perhaps some value is being seen in the tentative recovery of the world’s second largest economy. The current success of India and China has of course a knock-on effect with other Asian countries in terms of exports and as a result, there seems to be less of a reliance on intercontinental exports which can only be good for the region as a whole. Indeed you only have to look at the recent past performances of mutual funds invested in Asia to see that stock prices are benefiting greatly from the recovery and expansion in the region. Had you invested in an Indian mutual fund 3 years ago, you would have increased your net worth by over 150% !

Clearly there is a good opportunity for foreign firms to be a part of this growth and it is an exciting time to be in Asia. Foreign brands continue to have their appeal amongst the Asian community, not least in terms of personal status and this trend seems set to continue as China becomes increasingly exposed to Western culture and fashion. There are many opportunities for expansion in the future, certainly within the financial services industry as more Expatriates relocate to Asia and IFG intends to leverage on this having committed itself to an operation in the region.

Whilst running a foreign operation in Asia has its challenges, it is also very rewarding and we have a bullish opinion of the success of foreign business in the region in the years to come.

Robert Williams
Managing Director


Category: Volume 1 Issue 1 June 2005