When dynasties rise: how family businesses are becoming drivers of change

28 February 2023 | Applicable law: British Virgin Islands | 3 minutes

In recent years the world has reeled from various world wars, global depressions, unprecedented political shifts and pandemics. 

Despite these challenges, the entrepreneurial spirit fuelling innovation has not been dampened. In fact, many have thrived through adversity, disrupting the status quo to create meaningful change and, in the process, new wealth. It is this disruption which has fostered the new economy, an economy not based in government banks and deposits of tangible assets, but on new ideas and products increasingly centred around a de-centralised market.

Whilst traditional investments of familial wealth into stocks, luxury items and land continue, the new generation (whether they are part of existing wealthy families or those creating their own dynasties), are maximising their wealth in fintech, cryptocurrency, NFTs and blockchain technology (to name a few) and becoming a force for change.

Governments and the judiciary are playing catch-up, but some jurisdictions are recognising the need to adapt and welcome this new wave.

Singapore is one such fintech hub where many operators reside, and often structure group business via holding entities in offshore jurisdictions such as the British Virgin Islands (the 'BVI'). In tandem with this influx of new business, the Singapore judiciary has shown itself to be pragmatic, flexible and innovative in its approach to dealing with 'new assets'. We were the first law firm to successfully obtain a landmark decision in the Singaporean Courts (Janesh s/o Rajkumar v Unknown person 'CHEFPIERRE') which not only held that NFTs could be considered to be property but also that freezing orders and legal papers can be served on a Metaverse personality even if the actual identity is unknown. 

Over the pond, the BVI in particular has taken a pro-active stance by welcoming and encouraging players in the fintech market to base themselves in the Territory. With the recent introduction of a Virtual Asset Services Providers Act, the BVI is paving the way for new, innovative players in the market to operate from the Territory. We are already seeing this shift in the market and in recent months we have assisted crypto-based companies interact with the BVI regulators to ascertain how they can best enter the market, as well as advising creditors with interests in various crypto currency funds. 

However, increased interest often comes hand in hand with greater risks. Several crypto-based companies have come to us for advice on how to seek assistance from the BVI regulators in order to deal with malicious hacks on their system, so that the perpetrator can be identified and pursued internationally. As we head towards a global generational transition of wealth, the stage is set for a shake up in the family wealth investment arena. Innovation and change inevitably comes with unique challenges and uncertainty, so it's important to know that the areas in which you are investing and the people you're working with have the right infrastructure and experience to support your family's legacy. Whether you are looking for jurisdictions in which to launch your new digital product or to structure your new wealth to protect future generations, there are many new and exciting opportunities – and we can help. 

This document (and any information accessed through links in this document) is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this document.


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