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FINANCIAL SERVICES | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong
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57% of Hong Kong trust sector grew assets in three years

But firms are growing more worried about compliance costs.

More than half or 57% of trust and insurance firms and financial institutions said their proportion of assets held by Hong Kong-based entities had increased in the past three years.

According to a joint report by KPMG and the Hong Kong Trustees’ Association (HKTA), 61% believed the 2013 amendment to the Hong Kong Trustee Ordinance (HKTO) has made a significant contribution to the growth of their trust-related business.

Vivian Chui, head of securities and asset management, Hong Kong, KPMG China, said, "The statutory enactments in 2013 helped modernise Hong Kong’s trust regime and put it back on the map as a key trust jurisdiction. It was a positive first step and more reforms will be needed to enhance Hong Kong’s competitiveness as a trust jurisdiction."

In terms of the most effective method to expand the sector, regulation of trust companies was identified by 30% of respondents as their top pick.

However, the industry continues to face challenges. Woes identified include increased compliance costs, due to the expansion of compliance teams.

The report said many respondents predicted this is likely to escalate as a result of stricter Anti-Money Laundering (AML) regulations and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development’s (OECD) Common Reporting Standard (CRS).

Another concern is a shortage of trust specialists, as a result of a lack of formal training or qualifications for trust professionals in Hong Kong.

"While there are accreditation and training programmes available, these should be tailored to attract university graduates or individuals who are in the financial services and trust industry," KPMG an HKTA said. 

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