60-second interview with Alasdair McLaren 2019

Alasdair McLaren, 24/4/2019

Alasdair McLaren TEP is director of IQ-EQ in Guernsey and a judge at the 2019/20 Private Client Awards.

What does your firm or employer do, and what is your role there?

IQ-EQ helps global investors focus on investing and preserving capital in a sustainable and compliant manner. My own role is as a director of the Guernsey office where I work with a wide variety of international clients whose main concerns are succession, and estate planning and wealth preservation.

What is the most important thing STEP does, in your opinion?

I believe that STEP is both the voice of the industry and, through its qualifications, provides the benchmark of quality for clients looking for professional practitioners.

You are one of the judges at this year’s Private Client Awards in September. What led you to get involved?

I suspect I was invited as a long-standing member, ex chair of the Guernsey branch and ex Council member. As a trust practitioner with international clients I also spend a lot of my time liaising with professional firms around the globe.

What do you think makes a good Private Client Awards submission?

One, the applicant actually answers the brief and two, they have managed to really distinguish themselves from their peers. I’ll ask myself whether the submission leaps out at me.

What do you most like about your job?

Above all, the variety. On Monday I can be dealing with the issues of owning works of art, Tuesday, a family in meltdown and Wednesday a client may be acquiring a hotel chain. Having a great team also makes a massive difference.

What would you say to a young person thinking of a career in this industry?

Go for it! Get your STEP qualifications, as that provides both the bedrock of skills and proves attractive to employers. Get as much international experience as you can, and remember that the more you engage, the more you will enjoy your work, and the more successful you will be.

Which sectors are likely to see the strongest future growth, do you think?

I can’t speak for all of the sectors that STEP represents, but as an international trust specialist I believe we will continue to see the growth in more complex structures for ultra-high-net-worth families who are looking for added-value services. These may be labelled as quasi-family office services, but they will have to take account of the new economic substance requirements. Cross-border and cross-service line solutions are also becoming ever more important.

What about jurisdictions?

I am fortunate to be based in Guernsey and we continue to see families moving to the island or consolidating their international structures here. Those jurisdictions which are well regulated with sophisticated infrastructures should continue to do well. Again, much comes back to economic substance requirements, and also stability.

What trends do you see in the global private wealth sector at the moment?

In my sector we have definitely seen a trend for estate planning and asset preservation structures from a smaller number of larger clients. Contrary to press reports, the driver has not been tax, but a genuine requirement for solutions to inter-generational wealth transfer. We have also seen a trend for cross-border solutions and increasingly use our group offices across the globe, as clients look for integrated solutions.

What do you feel are the main challenges facing your organisation at the moment, and how will you deal with them?

Regulation is now accepted as being a good thing, but it does come at a cost which inevitably impacts on fees to clients. We are also dealing with legislative changes around the world, so we need to constantly re-evaluate the structures we manage, to ensure that they are still suitable and effective.

Alasdair McLaren MA, CA TEP, Chartered FCSI, is director of IQ-EQ in Guernsey and a specialist in international structuring solutions for international families. Alasdair is a former committee member and chair of STEP Guernsey branch, a former council member for the region and a long-standing committee member of the Guernsey Association of Trustees.