STEP, (The Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners) was founded over 20 years ago as a niche society for UK-based trust focussed lawyers and accountants. Now, there are close to 20,000 members across the globe from a wider range of professional backgrounds including tax specialists, bankers, trust officers and financial advisers, stretching from the United States in the west to Australasia in the east, with many continents and countries in between.
This expanded skillset of STEP members has served to improve the effectiveness of the services they provided, as they advise their often mutual clients in all aspects of wealth management, succession and estate planning.
After a few years of dormancy, the STEP Saint Lucia branch was revived and given a new lease on life when the immediate past Chairman of STEP Worldwide, Héléne Anne Lewis, visited Saint Lucia on her regional branch development tour, and reintroduced existing and prospective members to the aims, benefits and achievements of STEP. Then and there, on June 28, 2012, a new branch Board was elected, and STEP Saint Lucia was reborn.
Natalie Augustin of FINCOS, Brenda Duncan of AFCS and Ryan Devaux of BOSLIL were appointed to the positions of Branch Chair, Treasurer and Secretary respectively each one committing to the challenge of building STEP Saint Lucia into a vibrant and respected branch grounded by STEP’s global mantra of knowledge, development and confidence.
STEP is the premier provider globally of continuing professional development opportunities for professionals engaged in the provision of estate and succession planning. In that regard, STEP partners with such esteemed institutions as the University of Manchester to provide a Masters’ Degree in Wealth Management and with CLT International to provide a Diploma in International Trust Management. It is also possible for already qualified professionals to attain specialisation certificates in fields closely related to the provision of succession and estate planning advice. STEP also seeks to include persons who are not already professionally qualified but who work in the financial services industry by providing opportunities for qualifications that will enhance their capabilities. Qualification to Diploma level affords full membership in STEP and the right to append the letters “TEP” as an accreditation after one’s name. Much of the learning is online, with a face to face training week just prior to final examinations.
In keeping with the wider STEP mandate, the STEP Saint Lucia branch has since its rejuvenation, coordinated and hosted three successful breakfast seminars, attracting a cross section of lawyers, accountants, bankers and trust practitioners interested in the topics of “Estate planning for blended families”, “Wills and beyond”, and the “CARICOM benefit, developments & challenges of international business companies”. These events, presented by experts in their respective fields such as the esteemed Professor Rosemarie Antoine of the University of the West Indies, Accountant and Tax Specialist, Gregory Hannays of EY, and former Court of Appeal Judge Michael Gordon MBE, remain a constant on the local calendar of activities, with “Financial and welfare planning and decision making for the older client-different lands, different Rules” being the next scheduled seminar topic to be presented by local and international experts on the subject on Wednesday June 17
The confidence gained from hosting this series of seminars was the catalyst for the decision for STEP Saint Lucia to submit a bid proposal to be the host jurisdiction for the STEP Caribbean Conference in 2016. Over the years the focus of all participants in Saint Lucia’s International financial services sector, being a melting pot of government agencies, the regulatory authority and the registered practitioners, has been on successfully growing and positioning Saint Lucia as a well regulated and worldwide respected jurisdiction within the global financial services industry.
The Conference bid was successful and April 26 to 27 next year will see some 200-300 local, regional and international delegates present in St. Lucia to learn, share, explore, network and enjoy!