SINGAPORE: JPMorgan has set up a trust company in Singapore, its first in Asia, to cater for a growing cadre of ultra-wealthy individuals in the region.
The move by the US banking giant, which already has a Delaware trust company for US-based clients and one in the Bahamas, comes amid a boom in family offices, or private investment vehicles, in Hong Kong and Singapore.
"Many of our Asian clients will likely migrate their trusts from the Bahamas to Asia," Kam Shing Kwang, CEO at JPMorgan's private bank in Asia, told a news conference on Thursday.
Several of JPMorgan's European clients were also keen to book their trusts in Singapore, she added.
The Asia Pacific region had 814 billionaires at end-2017, accounting for 38 per cent of the global billionaire population, with China minting two new billionaires every week, a report by UBS and PwC found last year.
"We will be in a better position to support clients who have complex wealth planning needs and serve a wider range of clients in one of the fastest, wealth-generating hubs in the world," said Kwang.
Demand for trust companies is on the rise in Singapore, one of the world's leading financial and legal centers, as newly wealthy families in Asia seek legal structures to park their assets and begin succession planning.
JPMorgan has set up its Singapore trust company, which had been in the works for some time, some three years after the private bank established its Asian booking center there.
"It's a lot easier for us to find the right type of trust officers and people who understand the business in Singapore," said Kwang.
Singapore is home to a number of trusts set up by private banks and corporates, among others, supported by an advanced legal framework.