India Inc. organised its second annual Global Wealth Management Conclave in London against the backdrop of the UK General Elections just over a week away on May 7.
The overwhelming message from the financial experts, private wealth advisers and political chiefs was for Britain to ensure that it remains an attractive destination for Indians looking to invest in the overseas market.
Cobra Beer founder Lord KaranBilimoria said: “This is the most uncertain election the UK has witnessed where an elected government which has achieved great economic success is not certain of the outcome.
“Prime Minister David Cameron has made three visits to India, more than any British PM. And while we await (Indian) Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the UK, the groundwork has been laid for the relationship to strengthen further under any new UK government.”
The focus of India Inc’s annual conclave, organised along with global accountancy firm BDO, was on private wealth and taxation issues affecting Global Indians.
“It is estimated that around 160,000 high net worth Indians are living around the world and the UK must remain competitive to attract a fair share of them,” said Kim Hayward, international liaison partner at BDO.
The 1.5-million Indian diaspora in the UK is believed to occupy a major chunk of the country’s high net worth (HNW) population, with many holding assets across various jurisdictions.
“This is a challenge for professional advisers – accountants, lawyers bankers, wealth mangers – how they can respond to what will inevitably be an increasing demand for truly joined-up advisory services,” said India Inc. CEO Manoj Ladwa.
The sessions at the event centred around the impact of the UK General Elections on Global Indian investments, the growing debate around non-domicile tax status, Family Wealth and Risk Mitigation as well as property and luxury assets.
“London is the best shop window of the world as far as global investment in concerned and any new UK government will only take relations with India from strength to strength,” said Chris Cummins, CEO of TheCityUK, a representative body for Britain’s financial services industry.
“The UK has always held a fascination for India and the India-UK relations are at a very stable equilibrium and there are no institutional obstructions to robust ties in the future too,” added Indian political analyst Swapan Das Gupta during the session on UK elections.
On the issue of non-Dom tax status, which affects a number of Global Indians as they tend to be domiciled in India in terms of tax while living outside the country, financial experts warned that the UK government needs to handle the issue sensitively.
Neel Sahai, director of Minerva Trust, said: “Lots of Indian clients in the UK tend to be non-doms who look at family elements when choosing tax jurisdiction.”
“A stable legislation is important for any global investor and if UK regulations are seen as onerous, clients will prefer somewhere with a lighter touch,” added Wendy Walton from BDO.