Socrates and King Lear Teach Us a Lesson
Our next few articles will comprise an in-depth look at the five main components of our PPLI Concept Map: Professor PPLI Defines Nothing. We also offer you over the next five Parts, “She Was Good For Nothing,” by Hans Christian Andersen. This charming fairy tale supports our theme of nothing.
We introduce examples from ancient history and literature, ancient wisdom, to explain how PPLI can be a perfect fit for international families who seek privacy, tax efficiency, and asset protection. PPLI works excellently in multi-jurisdictional planning for those families seeking domiciles outside their home countries for political and economic reasons.
It is interesting to note that both Socrates and Shakespeare’s King Lear were in a sense exiled in their own kingdoms. Socrates put to death by state officials in Athens, and King Lear left to wander in his own country after political intrigue forced him out. These are highly charged dramatic events. It is sometimes equally so for wealthy international families. More about Socrates and King Lear later in our article.
An article in International Advisor, “Who is advising Asia’s ultra wealthy?” by Kirsten Hastings focuses on the role of independent asset managers (IAMs). IAMs are key players in the team that we assemble to achieve a properly structured PPLI policy. Frequently there are multiple IAMs on our teams to accommodate the many asset classes that become part of the PPLI policy. Here are some highlights from this article.
“Wealth in Asia is rising faster than in any other part of the world, meaning that increasing numbers of incredibly rich people need expert advice.
These ultra-high net worth individuals can be beyond the reach of financial advisory and wealth management firms.
And rather than turn to private banks, many are seeking the services of independent asset managers (IAMs).
Also known as external asset managers (EAMs), they have a long history in Europe and the US but were a rarity across Asia as recently as 10 years ago.
The Association of Independent Asset Managers (AIAM) was founded in Singapore in 2011 and only opened in Hong Kong in 2015.
So, what do they do?
Independent asset management involves a client opening an account with a custodian bank, which may be a private bank, and placing assets in the account, according to a 2018 report from recruitment specialists Selby Jennings.
The client then gives the IAM authority and power of attorney as a third party to represent them in managing the investment portfolio and asset allocation.
The assets remain in an account in the client’s name at all times, but the IAM makes decisions on how the assets should be managed.
In addition to investment advice, IAMs also offer tax and succession planning along with a host of other, very bespoke services.
With the high net worth population of the region set to increase by over 40% every year over the next decade, the number of IAMs is also projected to increase – by 25% in Singapore and 50% in Hong Kong, Selby Jennings added.
Insurance and IAMs
“IAMs are starting to realise that the investment returns they generate for their clients could be wiped out by market volatility or different taxes when rebalancing the portfolio or realising the gains.”
He said they are increasingly exploring the functions of insurance to “supplement their client’s planning”.
“Due to the complex needs of the high net worths and global tax frameworks, we see a lot of IAMs are considering different wealth structures like PPLI (private placement life insurance) and are exploring insurance as an asset class.””
International Life Insurance
In keeping with our cross-border and international theme, we quote from International Life Insurance edited by David D Whelehan, JD in the chapter, “International Life Insurance An Overview.”
“This product is for the wealthy, “accredited” investor. They are usually very large single premium structures. It is classified more as an institutional product, as the charges and fees are quite low in comparison to retail products described above. Another advantage is investment flexibility as they generally can be invested in things not permitted in a general account retail product, like hedge funds and private equity.
Premiums and benefits can also be paid in “kind,” as opposed to in cash. In addition, the policyowner can select his, or her, own Investment Manager for just the single policy to invest according to the policyowner’s general directions. The Custodian of the underlying assets in the fund can also be selected by the policyowner. Private placement products are tailored to meet specific objectives of the client, but are carefully designed to be compliant with local tax laws, so as to enjoy the tax treatment desired.”
Garth Kemerling’s insightful commentary in the Great Philosophers series gives us an excellent interpretation of what Socrates means by one of his most famous quotes, “I only know that I know nothing.”
“It is important to note that Socrates himself did not claim to know better than others. He frequently emphases that he is ignorant of the answer. The importance of this helps to draw the line between dogma and genuine philosophy. It is one thing to state one’s opinion of how things are and should be. Powerful institutions such as religions and political systems are built upon such dogmas and the demands that others abide by them. Socrates, on the other hand, started from a position of ignorance and sought the truth. In the end, he has no dogmatic program for us to follow, just a method for seeking the truth for ourselves, without any guarantee that we will find it. Philosophy as practiced by Socrates is an open system.
When he finds that the experts are just as ignorant about what things really are, he reasons: “I do not suppose that either of us knows anything really beautiful and good, I am better off then he is – for he knows nothing, and thinks that he knows. I neither know nor think that I know.” Socrates concludes that it is better to have ones ignorance tan self-deceptive ignorance. Socrates may not know the ultimate answers to the questions he raises, but he knows himself. It is this self-knowledge and integrity that constitutes the wisdom of Socrates. The open invitation is for all of us to ask ourselves how much we truly know of what we claim.”
Part 4 of “She Was Good For Nothing” by Hans Christian Andersen:
“After he had gone my mistress called me in to speak to me; she looked so grave and yet so kind, and spoke as wisely as an angel indeed. She pointed out to me the gulf of difference, both mentally and materially, that lay between her son and me. ‘Now he is attracted by your good looks, but that will fade in time. You haven’t received his education; intellectually you can never rise to his level. I honor the poor,’ she continued, ‘ and I know that there is many a poor man who will sit in a higher seat in the kingdom of heaven than many a rich man; but that is no reason for crossing the barrier in this world. Left to yourselves, you two would drive your carriage full tilt against obstacles, until it toppled over with you both. Now I know that Erik, the glovemaker, a good, honest craftsman, wants to marry you; he is a well-to-do widower with no children. Think it over!’
“Every word my mistress spoke went through my heart like a knife, but I knew she was right, and that weighed heavily upon me. I kissed her hand, and my bitter tears fell upon it. But still bitterer tears fell when I lay upon my bed in my own room. Oh, the long, dreary night that followed-our Lord alone knows how I suffered!
“Not until I went to church on Sunday did peace of mind come after my pain. It seemed the working of Providence that as I left the church I met Erik himself. There were no doubts in my mind now; we were suited to each other, both in rank and in means; he was even a well-to-do man. So I went straight up to him, took his hand, and asked, ‘Do you still think of me?’
” ‘Yes, always and forever,’ he said.
” ‘Do you want to marry a girl who likes and respects you, but does not love you?’
” ‘I believe love will come,’ he said, and then we joined hands.
“I went home to my mistress. The gold ring that her son had given me I had been wearing every day next to my heart, and every night on my finger in bed, but now I drew it out. I kissed it until my lips bled, then gave it to my mistress and told her that next week the banns would be read for me and the glovemaker.
“My mistress took me in her arms and kissed me; she didn’t say I was good for nothing, but at that time I was perhaps better than I am now, for I had not yet known the misfortunes of the world. The wedding was at Candlemas, and for our first year we were quite happy. My husband had a workman and an apprentice with him, and you, Maren, were our servant.”
“Oh, and such a good mistress you were!” said Maren. “I shall never forget how kind you and your husband were to me!”
“Ah, but you were with us during our good times! We had no children then. I never saw the student again. Oh, yes, I saw him once, but he didn’t see me. He came to his mother’s funeral, and I saw him standing by her grave, looking so sad and pale-but that was all for his mother’s sake. When his father died later he was abroad and didn’t come to that funeral. He didn’t come here again; he became a lawyer, and he never married, I know. But he thought no more of me, and if he had seen me he would certainly have never recognized me, ugly as I am now. And it is all for the best!”
Then she went on to tell of the bitter days of hardship, when misfortune had fallen upon them. They had saved five hundred dollars, and since in their neighborhood a house could be bought for two hundred, they considered it a good investment to buy one, tear it down, and build again. So the house was bought, and the bricklayers and carpenters estimated that the new house would cost a thousand and twenty dollars. Erik had credit and borrowed that sum in Copenhagen, but the captain who was to have brought the money was shipwrecked and the money lost.”
Both Socrates and King Lear ended their lives tragically, yet were both noble in spirit. Socrates accepted his death in an herotic fashion. Lear was reunited with his daughter, Cordelia, yet they died in the confusion of battle between the warring parties at the end of the play. How is this related to PPLI?
Great art strives to ennoble us. This is why it is great, and rises above mere entertainment. At Advanced Financial Solutions our aim is to rise to the highest level of structuring for wealthy international families, giving both maximum privacy, and compliance with tax authorities worldwide.
Our quest is not outwardly considered art, but inwardly its goal is the same–uncompromising excellence. We invite you to partake of this excellence by contacting us today to find out if PPLI structuring is right for you.
by Michael Malloy, CLU TEP RFC, @ Advanced Financial Solutions, Inc
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