- REUTERS - Mar 25, 2021 -
ZURICH/LONDON (Reuters) -In 2020, as the world convulsed under COVID-19 and the global economy faced its worst recession since World War II, billionaires saw their riches reach new heights.
Now some are talking to their wealth managers about how to keep a hold of and consolidate their fortunes amid the global debris of the pandemic. Others are discussing how to preempt and navigate demands from governments, and the wider public, to pick up their share of the recovery costs.
“The stock market crashed a year ago, by July or so my portfolio was back where it was before, at the beginning of the year, and now it’s far higher,” said Morris Pearl, a former managing director at BlackRock who chairs Patriotic Millionaires, a group that believes the high net worth should do more to close the wealth gap.
“The fundamental problem is this gross inequality that’s getting worse.”
The plans being discussed by the ultra-rich range from philanthropy, to shifting money and businesses into trust funds, and relocating to other countries or states with favourable tax regimes, according to Reuters interviews with seven millionaires and billionaires and more than 20 advisers to the wealthy.
“It’s quite evident that the bill is coming for everybody,” said Rob Weeber, CEO at Swiss wealth manager Tiedemann Constantia, who said some clients were also considering selling major assets like businesses before tax rates rise.
In the United States, the election of Joe Biden as president, and anticipated higher taxes for the rich, have in particular triggered a sharp increase in demand from clients to set up trusts, according to wealth managers.
This would allow them to pass along money to children or other relatives under the current $11.7 million tax-free threshold per person. During his campaign, Biden proposed to return to 2009 levels, when the exemption stood at $3.5 million.