60-second interview with Philip Marcovici - 2013

Philip Marcovici , 10/10/2013

Philip Marcovici TEP, winner of Lifetime Achievement Award at STEP Private Client Awards 2013.

What is your perception of STEP?

STEP has grown tremendously over the years I have been involved with the Society. STEP has played an enormous role in helping to change the industry for the better. Its focus on education and its growing influence on legislation is exactly what we need. I see STEP as not only playing a key role among trust and estate practitioners internationally, but also increasingly playing a key role in helping governments understand the critical role of effective trust and estate planning, and how the approaches that families take to this end can achieve both the objectives of the families involved and the critical need for governments to be sure that tax and other laws are fully complied with.

What does it mean to your organisation?

When in practice, STEP was a critical network for me and for Baker & McKenzie, providing access to excellent peer-led events, information and networking opportunities.

You were a finalist at the STEP Private Client Awards this year. Why did you enter?

I did not enter the Awards, but was fortunate to have been nominated by others and to have received a Lifetime Achievement Award, for which I am grateful.

How important was winning a STEP PCA for you?

There are many industry awards out there, but to be recognised by STEP, as THE industry association, and not a publisher looking to profit from an Awards programme is quite special and meaningful.

How did you hear about STEP and why did you join?

I was an early joiner of STEP many years ago, soon after its inception. STEP was and continues to be a critical organisation for the industry.

What are the main challenges facing your practitioners at the moment?

To me, growing transparency and regulation, which is clearly a challenge to many organisations and practitioners, is actually a positive trend. Our communities need this in order to ensure tax and other laws are met. For STEP and its members these are positive developments, not only making professional services more and more important for clients, but also permitting STEP members to do their part for their communities and clients. Compliance is increasingly part of client service, and needs to be delivered as such. Complexity is a hallmark of an increasingly small world and increasing complexity in the needs of our clients. This is not to be feared, but to be embraced, and for the younger generation of STEP members, is evidence of the long-term need for trust and estate practitioners of the highest calibre and integrity.

How will you deal with these challenges?

We are in a knowledge industry, something STEP recognises clearly through its educational focus. Challenges of complexity are opportunities for those with an interest and hunger to learn.

What’s been your career highlight?

My initiation of the Liechtenstein Disclosure Facility, a successful and innovative approach to the issue of undeclared funds, involving Liechtenstein and the UK was certainly a highlight, but there have been many things over the course of my career that were meaningful for me, fun and interesting. Among these my many years in Switzerland and Hong Kong, and my work with families. I have a strong belief that wealth too often destroys families, and I hope that in some small way I, through my work, helped families to avoid this happening to them.

Another clear highlight of my career has been the opportunity I have had to teach many, many students through my work with LawInContext, the Wealth Management Institute in Singapore, the Singapore Management University, STEP and many others.

Who has been your greatest mentor and why?

My greatest mentor was the founder of Baker & McKenzie’s Hong Kong and other Asian offices, John Connor. John, a friend, is a great believer in creating opportunities for and supporting the younger generation, and I was fortunate to learn from his ‘can-do’ approach, professionalism, optimism and sense of humour.

What’s the best book you have read this year?

The Garden of the Evening Mists by Tan Twan Eng

What is your favourite quote?

‘Trust no one.’ This quote reflects my approach to the trust area, where it is critical for families to ensure that they have the right ‘checks and balances’ in their structures. There are too many trusts out there that are not well thought out, and that have not benefitted from the right ‘what if’ questions being asked.

Philip Marcovici TEP was with Baker & McKenzie for close to 30 years, in Zurich and Hong Kong, one of the founders of their international wealth management practice. Philip was also founder of LawInContext, Baker & McKenzie’s online training and information venture. Retired from LawInContext and Baker & McKenzie, Philip now consults with governments, families and financial institutions and is on the boards of, among others, Rothschild Bank AG and various entities within the Kaiser Partner group.

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