Withers LLP, an international law firm headquartered in London with more than 1000 employees and 17 offices worldwide, will be making a foray into the fast-growing market for citizenship- and residency by investment. Withers Global Advisors (WGA) is a joint venture between Withers and immigration attorney Reaz Jafri – himself a partner at Withers – and will be based in New York City.
The new firm – which will operate in a manner similar to conventional investment migration outfits, providing citizenship and residence by investment solutions in jurisdictions around the world – will offer mobility and settlement solutions to Withers’ existing client base of ultra high net worth individuals.
Speaking to Investment Migration Insider, Jafri emphasizes that the investment migration-related options offered by WGA will be but one part of a wider array of services available to Withers’ clients.
The idiosyncratic and structurally sophisticated financial and residential situations of many of Withers’ clients mean that each case necessitates consideration for many layers of complexity, explains Jafri, who also points out that, in order to effectively advise these individuals, the firm relies on an approach that is not only multi-jurisdictional but also multi-disciplinary.
“Residence and citizenship considerations are one part of a comprehensive global strategy,” says Jafri, noting that for some clients, a desire to reside in a certain jurisdiction is the catalyst that occasions a need for complementary solutions in the realms of – for instance – business or tax planning, while for many it’s the other way around. “Sometimes it’s the tail wagging the dog; sometimes it’s the dog wagging the tail,” he adds.
The decision to provide investment migration services in-house, according to Jafri, grew partly out of a belief that outsourcing them was not ideal with regard to client confidentiality, privacy, and data protection, and partly due to increasing demand on the part of Withers’ existing client base. “We work with more of the world’s wealthy than anyone else, hundreds of family offices and institutional clients, and many of them have wanted us to go in this direction.”
Jafri believes WGA will have few direct competitors because clients will chiefly come from its current client pool, but also because their services are tailored to a very particular target demographic.
“We advise the select few. It seems every third person I speak with is a billionaire,” says Jafri, explaining that the solutions his clients require are so multifaceted that there’s hardly another firm that can offer the same full suite of services. “I don’t think we have many direct competitors. Not necessarily because we are better, but because we are Withers and we are different.”