Impact of Covid: Focus shifts to succession planning

Surabhi Mumbai | Updated on August 03, 2021

Pandemic makes people realise that eventualities can happen any time

Succession planning has taken centrestage in India amid the Covid-19 pandemic, and more high-net individuals are in discussions on preparing their will.

“Barclays Private Bank in India has seen a three- to four-time increase in discussions around succession planning by clients in the last 15 months,” said Sandeep Das, CEO, Barclays Private Bank in India.

In an interaction with BusinessLine, Das said that many more clients have had discussions on the need to make a will. “It is a difficult subject for everyone. The Covid-19 pandemic over the last 15 months has made a lot more people realise that eventualities can happen any time. Succession planning takes away the ambiguity in such a case,” he pointed out.

Unicorn start-ups

Barclays Private Bank in India focusses on the HNI and Ultra HNI, and Das said that despite the economic uncertainties post-Covid, there have been many more new clients with the rise of unicorn start-ups in the country.

Sameer Kaul, MD and CEO, TrustPlutus Wealth (India), also said discussions around succession planning are on the rise in the wake of the pandemic, especially in the last three months.

“While we have been offering writing of a will or setting up of a trust as part of succession planning for a long time, earlier the adoption rate was quite low. In the last few months, more than 50 per cent of our clients have said they would like to talk to a specialist to at least write a will in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic,” he said, adding that in the last three months the number of queries has gone up dramatically.

Writing a will is the preferred option as there is no stamp duty or capital gains implication as opposed to setting up a trust and moving immovable assets into the trust, Kaul noted.

Late realisation

Munish Randev, Founder and CEO, Cervin Family Office, said that when it comes to family businesses, succession planning was always taken seriously, but the seriousness has increased lately.

“Since October of 2020, we have received a lot of queries from family business owners as people realised that they have to live with Covid and work on any eventualities.

“On a monthly basis, we have received at least five to six queries from large family businesses since October last year on succession planning and wealth protection. The shift is now from a sole focus on investment returns to wealth protection and risk management,” said Randev.

Family wealth

According to Barclays Private Bank’s Smarter Succession research series, undertaken by Savanta in 2020, the pandemic has strengthened a trend for structuring family wealth and succession planning across the world.

“The health risks of the Covid-19 pandemic have brought succession planning into greater focus, as well as creating pressure to adapt ongoing business practices, with 70 per cent of originators of family wealth saying that the pandemic has affected their business aims, and around two in five (38 per cent) confirming that they are significantly reassessing their financial strategies,” it had noted.

Published on August 03, 2021

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