Jim Parker is extremely well versed in advising on complex wealth management matters, and is distinguished by sources as “a statesman of the industry”.
Jim joined Butterfield in October 2007 as country head for Switzerland and managing director of Butterfield Trust (Switzerland) Limited. Prior to joining the group, Jim headed Barclays’ wealth advisory business in Switzerland and was a member of the bank’s executive committee. Previously, he was a vice president of global trust and fiduciary services at Chase Manhattan Bank. He also spent seven years with Citibank and three years with Coutts & Co. Jim studied economics and psychology at the University of Bridgeport (Connecticut), and is an active member of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), Geneva branch.
What do you find most stimulating about working in the private client field?
The diversity. Every day is different. Each and every client and family situation comes with its own unique characteristics.
How have your previous roles in various international banks benefited your current practice?
The various specialist roles I held within the banks exposed me to a demanding global clientele and taught me how to successfully navigate a multicultural environment, as well as how to develop my instincts regarding family values and dynamics.
Which types of matters are clients currently seeking advice on most frequently? What would you say is driving this?
Our core business is the provision of highly tailored trust services. Our clients are looking for smart, practical solutions that are designed to meet their long-term requirements but remain flexible enough to adapt to the ever-changing world we live in.
How has the increased scrutiny on compliance in recent years impacted the way in which structuring is handled?
Most structuring is not about tax. As a general premise, I see much more emphasis on situations where long-term business stability and effective succession planning are the primary drivers.
How do the demands of separate generations of clients differ from one another and what challenges do they pose?
This is a fascinating area where there is no single “right” answer. I would suggest that you look for examples within your own family. This generational “tug of war” has and will always throw up numerous challenges for anyone in our line of work. Sadly, even the most sophisticated planning instruments cannot eliminate intergenerational tensions. Ultimately, it boils down to cultivating the development of a strong, effective communication framework between the family members and their team of professional advisers – that is the “not so secret” ingredient to long-term success and harmony.
In which ways do you anticipate the Swiss legal framework changing in the next five years?
Historically, many Swiss law firms have been directly involved in the provision of estate planning services for non-resident clients. These highly specialised activities often involved the provision of trust or trust-like services, so I believe that the upcoming introduction of trust regulation into Swiss law will fundamentally affect how firms deliver these services. In the absence of specific legislation, the market was crowded with all shapes and sizes of service providers. All that is about to change for the better, and professional standards for acting as a trustee or a fiduciary will be clearly established in law. The introduction of trust regulation will signify a huge step forward for our business and will serve to reinforce the high standards of the Swiss financial market.
How does Butterfield Trust distinguish itself from its competitors?
Commitment to our clients and our people. Great service. Flawless execution. Short communication lines.
What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received?
Play the long game and listen twice as much as you speak.