FSC ENACTS RULES FOR FAMILY OFFICES, MAURITIUS
With a view to diversifying the country’s financial services sector and increasing wealth management activities in the country, the Mauritian Government has introduced the Overseas Family Office Licence.
The concept was first put forward in the Government’s 2016-2017 budget. The Financial Services Act, 2007, was subsequently amended to include both an Overseas Family Office (Single) Licence and an Overseas Family Office (Multiple) Licence. In March 2020, the Mauritius Financial Services Commission (FSC) issued the Financial Services (Family Office) Rules 2020 (Rules), which are applicable to any person carrying family office activity in Mauritius.
A holder of a Family Office Licence is authorised to provide certain services to family clients which include:
- administration and management of investments, assets and/or estate(s);
- administration and management of concierge services;
- management of accounting and reporting;
- administration and management of philanthropic services;
- providing training and development to the incoming generations;
- administration and management of disaster recovery planning;
- administration of risk management;
- provision of administrative support;
- ensuring compliance with domestic and international legislations;
- establishing family governance, wealth strategies, family boards including family charters;
- providing tax advisory and compliance services;
- advising on wealth planning and protection; and
- any other activities as may be approved by the FSC.
‘Family’ is defined under the Rules as a group of individuals who are connected in at least one of the ways set out in Schedule 1 of the Rules. This schedule provides for a list of persons related to any individual within the family office, and it includes spouse, descendants, parents, step-parents, grandparents, parents-in-law, step-parents-in-law, brother, step-brother, sister, step-sister.
A family office may, but need not, be wholly-owned by family clients and exclusively controlled by family members or family entities. The minimum stated unimpaired capital is USD 35 000 for a Family Office (Single) and USD 70 000 for a Family office (Multiple).
The holder of a family office licence is required to subscribe for insurance policies and to develop and adopt an integrated risk management system which must be reviewed annually and must include factors such as risk identification, measurement, reporting and mitigation.
Mauritius boasts a sound legal system, political stability, robust legislative framework on data protection, qualified workforce, and an absence of exchange control. These provide a conducive environment to house family offices.
As an incentive, a holder of a family office licence may benefit from a five-year tax holiday provided that it meets the substance requirements of the FSC, which include having a physical office in Mauritius, a minimum number of employees resident in Mauritius (at least one professional for a family office (single) and three professionals for family office (multiple)) and assets under management of more than USD 5 million for each family.