Indian family offices expanding to Singapore and Middle East

Pedro Gonçalves
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Indian family offices expanding to Singapore and Middle East

Indian family offices are expanding abroad to follow the wealthy NRIs as they settle in the Middle East, Singapore and Hong Kong even with all the restrictions.

Credit Suisse estimates that there are close to 760 Indians with over $100m in net worth, and some of these ultra-high-net-worth individuals make up the nation's 16.6 million-strong diaspora.

"With the world's largest diaspora population, it comes as no surprise that Indian family offices have sprouted up outside India," Armin Choksey, a partner at PwC's Asian Investment Fund Centre told Citywire Asia.

"Many wealthy Indian families today have members who reside in various jurisdictions and have different outlooks on family  wealth," he added.

Taxation is also driving UHNWIs out of India and towards the international finance centres. Singapore and Hong Kong both offer  lower corporate tax rates of 17% and 16.5%, respectively, making them appealing locations for the wealthy.

India, on the other hand, charges a corporate tax rate of 30%, with a reduced rate of 25% for firms with an annual turnover of less than $34m.

Family offices in India are gradually shaping up to be more than just investment vehicles and are starting to look like their Western counterparts.  There are also restrictions on foreign investment portfolios and limits under the Liberalised Remittance Scheme that cap the investment capabilities of family offices located outside India.

Amid stories of in-fighting in some of India's largest high-profile families, the first generation of tycoons are considering setting up fully-fledged family offices in preparation of succession.