What's Driving Monaco's IFC Success – In Conversation With TrustConsult

Tom Burroughes Group Editor 19 May 2023

What's Driving Monaco's IFC Success – In Conversation With TrustConsult

During this news service's attendance at a Monaco-based conference, we spoke to founding partner of TrustConsult, organiser of the event, about his views on the IFC and the challenges HNW individuals face today.

After this news service attended a one-day TrustConsult conference in Monaco to discuss the standing of the European principality – and other international financial centres – it also spoke to Christian Bühlmann (pictured), group chairman and founding partner at the firm. (We carry a separate report of the conference here.)

WealthBriefing: In your view, what are the main reasons for Monaco being a significant international financial centre and where do you think it can make more progress? 
Bühlmann: Monaco became significant as it is the jurisdiction that has a high concentration of millionaires in its population. This supports the jurisdiction as an international financial centre. It is also eager to retain and strengthen its attractions to the international business community because it is trying to attract a younger crowd of residents. The digital world has made it possible for [younger people] to operate their business remotely.

Compared with competing jurisdictions, it can definitely make progress on the administrative treatment of setting up corporations. 

Within the landscape of financial hubs, where does Monaco sit in terms of the business that TrustConsult does, and how does it fit with other places, such as Luxembourg, Switzerland, etc?  
Historically, Monaco can put forward value propositions to high net worth and ultra-HNW individuals that deal with the following aspects:

-- Quality of life: very high personal security, natural and tax environment, political stability and predictability through France being the long term guarantor of the jurisdiction; 
-- Personal tax residence for HNW individuals/UHNW individuals;   
-- Structures to acquire private luxury assets: real estate, yacht, art, aircraft; and 
-- The presence of international private banks for private banking and wealth management.

During the conference I heard increasingly that families are coming to Monaco which means that more and larger homes are being built for them. Are you talking to many families interested in Monaco?  
Yes, Monaco is very often used as a personal tax residence and weekly hub by UHNW individuals who often have a second country residence in the vicinity. With a price per sq metre varying from €50,000 to €120,000 ($129,480), having space in Monaco is obviously very expensive and influences how newcomers are approaching the jurisdiction.

In your opening [conference] remarks, you mentioned the recent push for beneficial ownership public registers in Europe and how a top European court has issued a judgment that goes against this. Are you confident that this situation will be resolved so that legitimate financial privacy is protected?
Unfortunately, the EU parliament and European Commission are far too much under the influence of the US and Anglo-Saxon [jurisdictions] in general, and through law firms, [large] banks and lobbyists. They impose things for a level playing field that does not actually exist. Think about the US Foreign Account Taxation Act (FATCA) for example, or automatic exchange of information, through which the US does not grant reciprocity to anyone. It is indeed a shame that the EU commission accepts the undermining of its own economic zone with rules that go against its own interests and which appear also to be unconstitutional.

What else can we expected when it is commonly accepted and known that members of the European Parliament are “leftover” politicians sent to Brussels from EU countries’ political establishments? It is time for the EU to work on these weaknesses and stand for our independence regarding other major economic zones.

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