How the wealth managers do it: an in-depth investigation

   1   0 Blog, Enablers and intermediaries
Brooke Harrington

Brooke Harrington

The Atlantic is carrying a truly fascinating article entitled Inside the Secretive World of Tax-Avoidance Experts. And this researcher, Brooke Harrington, went to town on it:

“Given the little that is known about the profession and its role in global inequality, it seemed imperative to learn more about how wealth managers pull off this sleight of hand. . . . taking advantage of a research fellowship I was awarded in Germany, which freed me from teaching and administrative responsibilities for a few years, I decided to jump into the field with both feet. Reader, I trained to become a wealth manager. That initial part of my study took two years, many thousands of dollars, and hundreds of thousands of miles of travel. Although I never practiced as a wealth manager, training to join the profession opened the door to a secretive realm that would otherwise have remained closed to me.”

That is quite something. And the article is replete with fascinating detail: we could have chosen many, but we’ve settled for this one:

“I was robbed during my research trip in the Cook Islands; the circumstances were so frightening that I had nightmares about the incident for months afterward. After I finished giving my report to the police, I went for a walk, ending up at a small harbor where a Maori fisherman was cleaning his catch. I must have looked as dazed and traumatized as I felt, because he interrupted his work to ask me what was wrong. When I explained, he laughed and said that since the financial-services industry had grown so powerful on the island, crime rates had shot up. It was as though being in the business of evading the law had created a kind of contagion, corrupting island life even in aspects that had nothing to do with finance. “Everyone calls us the Crook Islands now,” he said.”

Though that’s merely an anecdote, it’s a progression that we and many others have been aware of for a long time, as a direct result of the ‘capture’ of whole societies by offshore finance. Many, many countries — such as the UK — would do well to consider this as one of the multiple costs of bowing down to offshore finance. And one other detail, which fits exactly with what TJN (and Treasure Islands) describes:

“a domain of libertarian fantasy made real, in which professional intervention made it possible for the world’s wealthiest people to be free not only of tax obligations but of any laws they found inconvenient.”

A really important contribution: we’re itching to reproduce more of this article but it’s best if you just go there and read the whole thing. It’s not that long. Harrington says she will be publishing a book on this soon.

And a couple of (older) related academic contributions from Harrington:

Trust and Estate Planning: The Emergence of a Profession and Its Contribution to Socioeconomic Inequality

From Trustees to Wealth Managers


Related Posts

UN must defend target to curtail multinational companies’ tax abuse

Photo by Luca Santori, Creative Commons LicenseThe Tax Justice Network, The Independent Commission for the Reform of International Corporate Taxation, and the Global Alliance for Tax Justice call on the UN Secretary General to make sure the commitment to action on tax abuses by multinational companies remains part of the new UN Sustainable Development Goals.

READ MORE →

The BVI: Responsible for worldwide tax losses of $37.5 billion a year

BVI report blogAn extraordinary report by consultants Capital Economics, for BVI Finance, claims that the British Virgin Islands are responsible for $1.5 trillion of assets invested around the world, and that these result in 2.2 million jobs and $15 billion in tax revenue. A better approximation would be that the BVI imposes global tax losses of $37.5 […]

READ MORE →

Event: Making Tax Work for Women in the UK and Globally

Invitation_ Tax and Gender eventOn Wednesday 28th June 2017 at 16.30 our very own Liz Nelson will be speaking at an event in London that aims to bring together gender and tax justice advocates to highlight the need for coherent and gender-responsive fiscal policies to safeguard the rights of women and girls both in the UK and globally. The […]

READ MORE →

Historic event on women, human rights and tax justice in Bogota

BogotaLast week civil society organisations, researchers, labour union activists and policy makers met in Bogota, Colombia to explore how tax justice issues can ensure governments, multinational corporations and others meet their obligations to women in order to secure their full range of human rights. The Women’s Rights and Tax Justice conference opened with a conversation […]

READ MORE →

The Offshore Wrapper: the Panama Papers, one year on

Photos from the Protest outside PwC 1 Embankment Place, part of the Global week of action for tax justiceWelcome to the Offshore Wrapper – your weekly update from TJN.  Happy Paniversary! This week it’s been one year since the Panama Papers were leaked, and a number of organisations around the world have been marking the occasion though the global week of action for tax justice. In London, activists from the TJN and the […]

READ MORE →

One thought on “How the wealth managers do it: an in-depth investigation

  1. Lisa says:

    Really fascinating stuff!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to Top