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Curaçao attracts a new generation of ESG investors

20 September 2022

Carolina de Coito Pita

Senior Account Manager Legal, Intertrust Group Curaçao

Carolina de Coito Pita

Senior Account Manager Legal, Intertrust Group Curaçao

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Investors, family offices and high-net-worth individuals are using the island’s entity structures to protect and grow wealth sustainably

Curaçao’s long-established financial services sector is attracting a new generation of investors, family offices and high-net-worth individuals.

The island is known for good governance and financial probity, as well as its highly-evolved economic and physical infrastructure. It’s blessed with a tropical climate and lies outside the Caribbean hurricane zone.

These long-standing benefits are well known. But increasingly, Curaçao is attracting financial services clients with its commitment to sustainability and social justice.

Curaçao ESG in practice

Currently there is no formal ESG disclosure framework in Curaçao, though that’s likely to come in time.

The island’s strong link to the Netherlands means it tends to follow the European country’s lead – and the EU is currently implementing the most stringent corporate sustainability regulations in the world.

The Curaçao government is preparing the island for stricter sustainability standards and attempting to get ahead of the curve.

The island has now taken a leadership role in terms of sustainable energy in the Caribbean, with 30% of its energy requirement provided by wind. Solar energy is also an important contributor to the island’s energy mix.

At the same time, the government is focusing on reducing plastic waste and increasing recycling rates – important considerations for a major tourist destination.

Curaçao leads by example

The island’s business sector is following the government’s lead. We have seen a huge rise in the number of companies establishing ESG strategies across operations and workforces.

Why are they doing so – if, after all, collecting and reporting ESG data isn’t yet officially mandated in Curaçao?

Partly it’s because Curaçao entities are often part of larger global organisations that need to create a holistic picture of their ESG position. And partly, it’s because they see that ESG is of extreme importance for the future of the island and the legacy that its local companies want to leave behind.

We’re aware that Intertrust Group’s biggest carbon emissions are from travel and energy use, and we’re committed to understanding the full scope of our environmental impact and determining steps to reduce our carbon footprint.

In the Curaçao office, we have introduced digital signatures to reduce paper usage. In addition, all desktops are being replaced by laptops, as laptops are 80% more energy efficient.

By taking these simple but important steps, we’re committed to minimizing our carbon output and moving towards an energy-efficient office.

ESG is here to stay. Regulation will follow, but investors, customers and employees already want to see Curaçao’s business and financial sectors commit to sustainability and social justice.

Financial services and ESG in Curaçao

Financial services providers with sustainability strategies of their own are also attracting family offices and high-net-worth individuals who want to protect wealth in a responsible way.

Curaçao is already known as a great place to set up foundations, trusts, investment companies and remote offices.

A recent Bloomberg article called it the number one tropical island for remote work. A rise in digital nomads working from Curaçao confirms its appeal to younger, more mobile workers.

The draw of the island is multifaceted, taking in the resilient infrastructure, a stable government, and multiple ways of setting up structures and conducting business in a professional manner – as well as the island’s natural advantages of geography and climate.

Now, ESG factors are an increasingly important part of that attraction. Curaçao is a multicultural, multilingual nation with a diverse workforce that acts as a bridge between European and South American cultures.

The focus on sustainability from government and business is only adding to the appeal of the island for ESG-aware investors.

Family wealth and ESG in Curaçao

Curaçao’s foundations and trusts are an effective way to preserve family wealth and to ensure that the wishes of the founder are always respected. This could mean they invest in sustainable assets or set aside funds for charity or education.

These structures can also help distribute wealth equitably in the event of the founder’s death. That can be particularly important for families from some Middle Eastern countries, where asset-distribution formulas can penalise daughters and other female family members.

A Curaçao private foundation can be set up to ensure that the wishes of the family are followed in this regard. Assets are distributed according to the entity’s instructions rather than the inheritance laws in the family’s country of residence.

This is how such structures offer another tool for ESG compliance – by helping to ensure gender equality in wealth protection.

Why Intertrust Group?

  • Intertrust Group in Curaçao can guide clients through the entire process of creating and maintaining trusts, foundations and investment companies.
  • We can take care of all fiduciary and compliance matters – including bookkeeping and accounting services – and can act as an intermediary.
  • As a strategic partner, our proprietary innovative technologies are combined with global knowledge and experience to deliver a wide range of added-value services.
  • Intertrust Group is a publicly listed company with 70 years’ experience in providing world-class trust and corporate services to clients around the world.