Ten On The Weekend

Governments Showing a “Complete Lack of Respect for Investors”: 10 On The Weekend With Ceri Pratley

10 On The Weekend is a weekly (-ish) feature in IMI, the concept of which is simple: Each time, we ask the same ten questions of a different IMI Pro, letting readers get to know the interviewee on a more personal and informal level than they might during the ordinary course of business.

Our guest this week is Ceri PratleyHead of Residency and Citizenship at The Sovereign Group

How do you spend your weekends?

Working with the Sovereign Group’s international teams and clients, who span all countries and time zones, ensures the work week is always busy. 

Therefore, I try to keep the weekend for family-related activities and relaxation, whether that means taking my son to his football practices and tournaments, cycling, going out for a meal or two, or, my personal favorite, scuba diving.  

What are your top three business goals this year?

1- To further integrate residency and citizenship planning and implementation with the Sovereign Group’s core private client, corporate establishment, and management services, providing clients with all-encompassing flexible solutions. 

2 -To continue developing and promoting residency by investment solutions in the Middle East. The Sovereign Group has offices and highly experienced teams in Abu Dhabi, Bahrain, Dubai, Oman, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, the governments of which already offer or are currently developing residency by investment programs.

The Middle East also remains a region where outbound residency and citizenship programs are high on the agenda for many. The Sovereign Group will also continue assisting clients based in Africa, Asia, Europe, and the Americas. 

3 -To further develop and expand the Sovereign Group’s residency and citizenship team with professional advisors, who have in-depth knowledge of international residency and citizenship programmes. Also, the knowledge required to combine these advisors with Sovereign’s other core private client and corporate establishment services, to provide clients unbiased, bespoke, and flexible solutions. 

What’s your biggest business concern right now?

As in many international and cross-border industries, my biggest concerns are the continuous uncertainty and goal shifting at the government level.

Another concern is rouge players within the advisory and investment provider sectors, such as those who misinform or oversell and do not meet their commitments to clients. 

Which book is on your nightstand right now?

When not reading work-related publications, I’ll reach for a simple fictional page-turner, often a book by James Patterson and one of his many collaborators.

Many years ago, I studied Spanish; hence, if I see one I have not already read, I may also pick up a book by Gabriel García Márquez.

How and when did you first get into the investment migration industry?

My background is in wealth management; I began my career in London in 1996 and moved to the international sector in 2000.

Since 2000, the international private client services sector has developed, progressed, and implemented much-needed regulations and associated compliance procedures. 

The first questions governments ask applicants when completing applications have always been the client’s place of residence and nationality. More recently, this has expanded to include their place of tax residency. 

Between 2010 (the introduction of FATCA) and 2014 (the introduction of CRS), it became apparent that residency, tax residency, and citizenship planning were becoming crucial elements of international wealth management, planning, and strategy. 

This shift creates a platform on which professional advisors and their clients can—and should—build flexible international wealth management strategies. 

The IMC was in its infancy at the time, and no courses were available. Hence, I initially spent a lot of time researching the industry myself, identified the synergies between the two, and committed in 2016.

What was your proudest moment as a service provider?

I have worked in the international private client advisory sector for nearly 30 years. Therefore, I do not have one moment that stands out above all others. 

I practice what I preach. Having traveled, studied, worked, and lived outside my country of birth since the age of ten, I have an appreciation for the global lifestyle.

A message from our partners
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I enjoy assisting others in achieving the international lifestyle they aspire to, generating opportunities for themselves, their families, and their businesses, and enjoying the wide array of benefits that follow. There is always a great sense of satisfaction when you are able to assist and view this firsthand. 

Which investment migration market development has surprised you the most in the last year? 

What surprises me is the treatment of investors by some governments and their application processing departments. 

Some do not meet their own stated objectives when receiving and processing qualifying applications.

Also, governments tend to make announcements without forethought or planning. The industry has experienced program closures and amendments with immediate effect, leaving investors, their families, and advisers with nowhere to turn, sometimes creating financial loss without recourse.

Recent world events have not helped, but governments, politicians, their departments, and even successive governments should not act this way. 

It shows a complete lack of respect for investors and their families, who have met all the qualifying requirements to receive residency or citizenship under the published terms. It also reflects poorly on the country, creating uncertainty and mistrust within the market and the industry.

If you could go ten years back in time, what business decision would you change?

The world is constantly changing, as are clients’ needs, business practices, and the residency and citizenship industry in general. 

Whilst knowledge and learning are essential to those working with and on behalf of private clients, experience and the ability to adapt are also key to providing them with the most suitable, all-encompassing solution to their personal needs.

Over the last ten years, I have continued to gain a wealth of experience and have adapted my business practices, primarily focusing on the residency and citizenship planning sector. 

No journey is without its ups and downs, but I cannot and would not change this; I will, however, continue to look forward.

What investment migration industry personality do you most admire?

I do not put people on a pedestal, but I do respect open, honest, positive people who will do all they can to meet their commitments. 

If all goes according to plan, what will you be doing five years from now?

Five years is not a very long time in the grand scheme of things. My family is still relatively young, and I am certainly not stopping work any time soon.

Having experienced significant change in the international private client services sector and seeing the potential issues the investment migration industry currently faces, it has a long way to go. 

However, I strongly believe the sector has a lot of potential and, should it choose, can implement many positive changes for both existing and new residents and citizens. 

Over the next five years, I’d like to be part of that positive development and progression at the government, advisor, and qualifying investment creation levels. 

From a government perspective, I’d like them to put more thought and resources into planning and implementing investment migration programs. 

Most understand and appreciate that offering residency, tax residency, and citizenship programs enables them to secure much-needed foreign investment without debt. 

Hence, attracting people with proven business success and valuable networks creates local employment and associated economic benefits, ultimately enriching their economies and citizens.

I encourage governments to develop and promote qualifying investment options that benefit their existing residents, citizens, and investors alike. With forethought, planning, and commitment, this is perfectly achievable. 

From an Industry perspective, I’d like to see it mature and move away from a one or two-solution-fits-all, sales-based industry to one that is professional, responsible, and internationally compliant, creates opportunities, and enables investors to meet their personal and professional goals.

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