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Step members in Switzerland and Liechtenstein most pessimistic

Step’s Switzerland and Liechtenstein members are the most downbeat among their peers over the future


The latest quarterly Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners’ (STEP) Business Confidence Barometer Survey found that broadly speaking confidence among its member remained positive.

However, the survey highlighted a small dip in the long-term business outlook globally.

Negative sentiment was most pronounced among Step members in Switzerland and Liechtenstein, which have close business ties to each other and have seen their historically secretive financial industries under attack in the past two years for harbouring untaxed foreign billions.

Business decreases expected

Asked about the prospects for the trust and estate planning industries in their countries over the next year, 30% of Step members in Switzerland and Liechtenstein said it would decrease, while a further 5% said it would decrease “significantly”.

Another 30%, however, said it would improve, and 30% again believed it would stay “about the same”.

In England and Wales, 63% of Step members said they thought business would remain the same, 24% expected an increase, 12% a decrease and 1% a significant decrease.
Step chief executive David Harvey said: “The continuing uncertainty in Europe looks to be one of the main drivers of the decline in our long term index over the past three quarters. Overall, however, I am pleased that our membership, which has now surpassed 16,000, retains a positive outlook for the trust and estate industry as we near the end of 2010.”

Overall, the Near Term Confidence Index, which looks at the outlook over the next three months, rose over the third quarter, from 18 to 21. Step highlighted that the index was -13 at the start of 2009, showing there has been a return in business confidence among members globally.

The Longer Term Confidence Index, covering 12 months, however, fell for the third successive quarter, this time from 30 to 25.

Harvey added, “However, this result should be seen in context, the same measure began 2009 at -2.”

The five Step regional memberships are Australia and New Zealand, Canada, Caribbean, Central and South America, England and Wales and Switzerland and Liechtenstein.

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