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"A Foundation is a much more appropriate structure than a Trust in countries like Côte d’Ivoire, where the asset owner may be reluctant to forego the legal ownership of such assets."

Wealth preservation and transmission in Côte d’Ivoire

29 Nov 2018

Kenny Curpen, Director of Private Client at Ocorian Mauritius debriefs on his presentation focussing on wealth preservation and transmission at the SEIP Conference in Côte d’Ivoire last month.

Kenny, what was the SEIP Conference all about and why did you feel it was important for you to attend?

The SEIP – (Salon de l’Epargne, de l’Investissement et du Patrimoine) - Conference held in the major city of Abidjan was dedicated to building awareness on strategies and tools to promote savings, investment and wealth creation.

The merit for the conference goes to Ecobank, which is very active in Côte d’Ivoire and in the 35 other African countries where they operate. I was invited by them to deliver a presentation followed by a Q&A session on the important theme of assets, wealth preservation and transmission.

How relevant is this theme of assets, wealth preservation and transmission to a country like Côte d’Ivoire?

It is true that the focus of the conference was more on savings with Côte d’Ivoire being a country where only 11% of the adult population has a bank account. However, there is a growing segment of the population that has accumulated assets of various classes during their lifetime and for whom the question of wealth preservation and transmission is highly relevant. And, as the country keeps on a track of solid economic growth (Annual GDP growth rate was above 7% in 2017), I foresee that in a few years’ time the pool of potential clients interested in our Private Client offering in Côte d’Ivoire and the region could be growing at a relatively fast pace

In my presentation, I introduced, namely, the concept of Foundation to which the audience could relate because it is built on a legal disposition whose roots are found in the French Code Napoléon or Code Civil, as opposed to the concept of which is based on the English Common Law. The law in Côte d’Ivoire, a former French colony, is obviously based on French law. Also, it seems to me that a Foundation is a much more appropriate structure than a Trust in countries like Côte d’Ivoire, where the asset owner may be reluctant to forego the legal ownership of such assets. With a foundation, it is always possible to keep control over these assets with the founder choosing the members of the Foundation’s council.

Additionally, I introduced the concept of Family Office on the back of the vast experience Ocorian has in this area. The concept attracted a lot of interest, especially from the banks present at the conference who see the potential of such a product for managing the assets of their high net worth clientele.

How was your presentation received by the participants?

It was received very well. To many of the participants, it came as a surprise that the Mauritius jurisdiction offers the possibility to set up a Foundation. It was also a first to many of them to discover the features and characteristics of the Mauritius Foundation. The Q&A session was quite rich, unveiling the common practice of the wealthy families entrusting their asset transmission and inheritance matters to a notary public. I explained how Ocorian in Mauritius and Côte d’Ivoire could actually work in collaboration with the notary public for the transfer of assets into the Foundation. Overall, the presentation attracted a high level of interest from the part of intermediaries such as banks and lawyers as well as from high net worth individuals present. 

Are there any other important lessons learnt or things you were able to achieve?

I found that the conference was an interesting platform to introduce the Ocorian organisation, its global footprint and the full range of services we offer in addition to our Private Client offering. I must thank Ecobank for sponsoring the SEIP and for having invited me to be a speaker. My presence in Abidjan together with the full time on-the-ground presence of the Ocorian Côte d’Ivoire team demonstrates the commitment of Ocorian to bringing a range of proven expertise to facilitate asset preservation and succession planning in the broader West African region.

“ I am grateful to Mr Curpen from Ocorian to have introduced the various asset structuring, preservation and transmission tools which we, as bankers, can propose to our clients. His talk was thus very relevant to what we do and to the concerns of our clients. While these tools can complement our own offering and add to the value we give to our clients, I also feel that that they are perfectly compatible with our cultural values.”

- Mrs P. Pokou, Head of Wealth Management, SIB, Côte d’Ivoire

Key contacts
Client Director - Private Client
Business Development Director - Côte d'Ivoire and France