Touchstone APAC User Forum – Post Event Summary

Touchstone held its’ inaugural APAC User Forum earlier this year at Singapore’s iconic ‘eco-hotel’ Parkroyal on Pickering. It was a fantastic day of insights and perspectives on efficiency and the technology-enabled future of the wealth management industry. In attendance were representatives from over 30 leading local and international organisations spanning the private banking, trust/fiduciary, family office, corporate secretarial service, funds administration, legal and technology sectors.

The Forum was also an excellent opportunity to engage directly with our clients, prospective clients and industry experts, so we have pulled together the key insights and take-aways from the day for your benefit. We trust you find this content informative and useful.

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Touchstone APAC Business Update and regional perspectives

Greg Coppell: General Manager – APAC, Touchstone

Greg Coppell, General Manager APAC from Touchstone opened the days proceedings with a presentation outlining Touchstone’s focus on the Asia Pacific region and discussing the critical importance of partnerships and open, honest dialogue in any client-consulting relationship.

Key takeaways:

  • Clients in this region and in general are expecting more than mere implementation. Touchstone are often asked for and expected to provide input into several key questions:
    • How do we go about implementing new systems – how do we start?
    • What does ‘best practice’ look like and what are others doing?
    • Where is the technology heading and how can it benefit our business?
  • The key drivers Touchstone are seeing in this region for our specific solutions are: a) constant regulatory change b) increasing competition c) significant compliance needs d) the push for operational efficiency and e) driving improved customer experiences. All these areas stand to benefit from the application of current and future technologies.
  • Touchstone have been building on our engagement with the APAC region, and have a number of regional SMEs spanning business consultancy, technical development and management, allowing clientele to benefit from local and global industry expertise.
  • Touchstone has continued to build local, ‘on the ground’ assets and invest in relationships, particularly with the Singapore Trustees Association, STEP Asia, STEP Singapore and Hong Kong Trustees Association.
  • In the future, we will see technology become an ‘ambient’ experience, fully enveloping the user and being invisible, immersive and natural

The Singapore Variable Capital Company (VCC): Armin Choksey (Partner, PwC Singapore)

Armin Choksey: Partner, PwC Singapore

Jurisdictions worldwide are developing innovative new vehicles to attract investment and equip wealth managers with cutting edge tools. Armin Choksey, (Partner, PwC Singapore) delivered an informative overview of the Singapore Variable Capital Company (VCC) and why this innovative new vehicle is considered a potential game-changer for the funds management industry when it comes into effect in late 2019.

Key takeaways:

  • The VCC is a new legal entity form/structure (corporate fund entity) for investment funds, for traditional and alternative fund strategies (both open-ended and closed-ended)
  • It can be setup as a standalone entity or as an umbrella entity with multiple sub-funds.
  • Foreign corporate entities set up as funds could be inward re-domiciled as VCCs
  • Key benefits of the VCC legal entity form include:
    • Improved operational and tax efficiency, leveraging Singapore’s extensive network of double taxation agreements
    • The privacy of financial statements is maintained
    • VCC vehicle is eligible for the US ‘check the box’ election
    • Can be used as a pooling vehicle, to list funds as information listing and trading purposes and for a variety of investment strategies
    • There will be re-domiciliation mechanisms in the VCC Act
  • Requirements for a VCC include:
    • Capital requirements need to be equal to its net assets, thereby providing flexibility in the distribution and reduction of capital
    • Must have a Singapore-based license or regulated fund manager (unless exempted under the regulations)
    • At least one Singapore resident director for non-authorised schemes and at least three directors for authorised schemes
  • Must have registered office in Singapore and a Singapore-based company secretary
  • Subject to audit by a Singapore-based auditor and must present financial statements per IFRS/FRS or US GAAP.

More information on the VCC, courtest of PwC Singapore may be found here.

Public Trust New Zealand – The Road to Digitisation: Angela Dixon, Chief Financial and Information Officer

Angela Dixon, CFIO Public Trust NZ

Many organisations are undergoing significant digital transformation driven by the need to seek efficiencies, improve customer experience, gain a competitive advantage. However, such deep change is rarely without some challenges and can requires a culture of robust dialogue between stakeholders, clients and vendors.

Angela Dixon, Chief Financial and Information Officer for Public Trust NZ, one of New Zealand’s largest trustee organisations, presented on the organisations’ digitisation journey and shared some of the key learnings from the extensive system upgrade.

The Journey

  • PTNZ found it needed to scale considerably in order to meet current and future demand for its services and also drive customer centricity, but its incumbent system lacked scalability and was no longer fit for purposes to deliver this outcome.
  • The organisation focused on the fundamental architecture first, identifying the key aspects for getting ‘digital ready’.
  • The organisation worked with a local Microsoft integration partner in the first instance, however the proposed system too closely resembled their legacy system.
  • PTNZ then engaged directly with Touchstone to bring the product knowledge (of NavOne) closer to the business and re-engineer the platform.

Key Learnings

Angela offered some key learnings from the PTNZ experience:

  • Long-standing, heavily-customised legacy systems can be difficult to walk away from, but it is important to be honest about the needs of the business relative to the efficacy of those systems and to acknowledge that action needs to be taken.
  • It is important to build relationships with your technology partners based on open and honest dialogue, otherwise you tend to skim across the top of the issues
  • Putting the customer at the heart of what is done is critical to driving success
  • The easiest option (in systems development) might seem to be merely building another version of what you already have.
  • Building product knowledge (of your platform) in your teams is important to longer-term success
  • Technology is not a ‘silver bullet’. It is best to shape your business around what it can do, not trying to make it do what it cannot
  • It is important to step back from the detail of the technology and ask how it will fundamentally deliver on business strategy
  • An enterprise system needs to be positioned very carefully to the various divisions who may sense a loss of control. It is important to get people to think at an enterprise level, so spend time on the vision.
  • Don’t be afraid to reset relationships or change direction if it makes business sense
  • Empower and share the vision with your teams, particularly the technology teams who will be key to supporting it’s success
  • Link your knowledge of the product with your customer value proposition
  • Working directly with the product designers mitigates the risk of misunderstandings or assumptions regarding your business
  • As a leader, it is important to stay front and centre in the development of your platform
  • Angela closed by sharing an internal mantra used at PTNZ “Executive teams get the technology they deserve”, adding that Executives need to understand “what they are getting and getting hands dirty sometimes. At the end of the day, if you don’t get what you want, the problems still remain”.

“Executive teams get the technology they deserve”

Internal mantra at Public Trust NZ

NavOne update – Recent development focus: Adrian Akers, Technical Services Director – Touchstone

Adrian Akers: Technical Services Director and Deputy Managing Director, Touchstone

Touchstone Technical Services Director and Deputy Managing Director, Adrian Akers, delivered an in-depth presentation outlining recent development of NavOne®.

Adrian commenced his presentation with a general reminder about the transition of Microsoft’s Dynamics NAV platform to Dynamics 365 Business Central, then provided a high-level overview of the recent development focus for NavOne®, highlighting Touchstone’s ‘always RegTech’ approach under which there is a consistent focus on development for compliance and regulatory requirements in consideration of the challenges our industry faces with respect to AEoI regimes FATCA/CRS, economic substances tests, GDPR and beneficial ownership in particular.

A number of specific development items were outlined, particularly enhancements to the NavOne® financial statements functionality, multiple user-level UX improvements and improvements to the FATCA/CRS reporting module.

Adrian was also pleased to announce a number of new service offerings:

  • A new payments gateway provides clients seamless connectivity and straight-through-processing (STP) to a majority of banks and major messaging networks
  • A new electronic signature solution to reduce the time cost of document execution
  • A new NavOne® Health Check service, to provide a robust, multi-dimensional performance audit of NavOne implementations ensuring optimal application performance
  • A class-leading managed service solution to meets of clients seeking to have their key infrastructure managed externally

Should any of these new solutions be of interest please contact

Adrian completed his presentation with an overview and demonstration of some of the key emerging technologies relevant to the wealth management industry, including the application of AI to client onboarding, Robotic Process Automation (RPA) to a repetitive but complex data operation, and digital onboarding and ID verification services which hold great promise for wealth management providers undergoing digital transformation.

For further detail on the NavOne® development roadmap or to discuss any of the technologies or content outlined, please contact

For more information on recent development contact Touchstone.

“All these features are here but not because we think we know better, but because we listen”

Adrian Akers, Technical Services Director


We thank all those who attended on the day for their questions and involvement, in particular our speakers and panellists:

  • Armin Choksey, PwC Singapore
  • Angela Dixon, Public Trust New Zealand
  • Greg Coppell, Touchstone
  • Adrian Akers, Touchstone
  • John Shoemaker, Butler Snow LLP
  • Brent York, HSBC Private Wealth Solutions

For further information about the Touchstone APAC User Forum 2019 please contact us here. We thank you for your support and look forward to seeing you at future Touchstone events.

Contact Us

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Below are a selection of videos from the Touchstone APAC User Forum 2019.

Speakers’ Panel – Q&A Session (32 mins)

Speaker Interviews (7 mins)

Touchstone APAC User Forum Event Highlights (3 mins)


Australia • Bahamas • Bermuda • Cayman • Cyprus • Gibraltar • Guernsey • Hong Kong • Ireland • Isle of Man • Japan • Jersey • Liechtenstein • Luxembourg • Malaysia • Malta • Mauritius • Monaco • Netherlands • New Zealand • Papua New Guinea • Singapore • South Africa • Switzerland • United Kingdom