The financial services industry has undergone major transformation in recent years. From the wave of bank consolidations in the 1990s to the spate of recent acquisitions and offshoring activities in emerging markets, the rise of new asset classes to the growth of private wealth management in Asia, the industry has seen tremendous structural changes. This opens up opportunities for and poses threats to services providers, while customers now enjoy a range of products and services not previously available.
Dealings in capital underpinned the business of financial services, and because capital is extremely mobile, taxation considerations take on a new dimension in this industry, perhaps more so than in other industries, for both providers and customers alike. In relation to the former, financial institutions leverage on the advancement of information technology to organise themselves across jurisdictions in a closely integrated fashion for risk management and transfer, operating through business models that stretch the application of traditional taxation concepts. With regard to the latter, tax risks to holders of financial products become far more acute with innovative instruments that slice or combine risks and rewards in a manner that challenge conventional analysis. With tax risks being magnified in financial services, the potential for it to add value with proper structuring is immense.
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