Links Group, an Equiom company, supports foreign organisations who wish to set up a business in the UAE, whilst safeguarding their status as business owners. Links Group can provide a number of solutions to suit your business needs should you already have a presence or be looking to expand into the Middle East.
International employee benefit schemes are a key consideration for employers who wish to retain and attract the best talent, ensuring a loyal and dedicated workforce.
Most employees now expect global pension plans and end of service benefits as a vital part of their overall compensation package.
Equiom has considerable experience in this area and offers a number of options when it comes to trustee services for pension arrangements, from employee benefits schemes and pensions to savings and share plans for expatriates and employers.
Our range of services are offered in a number of jurisdictions around the world and include:
- End of Service Benefit Plans
- International Pension Plans
- Employee Benefit Trusts
- Employee Ownership Trusts
End of Service Benefit Plans
End of service gratuity is a statutory obligation for companies across many Middle Eastern jurisdictions and is designed to help fund employees’ future retirement needs. The requirement for a company to pay End of Service Benefits (EOSB) is well known in this region and a frequently talked about subject. Equiom are the market leading trustee in the Middle East with over 20 years of experience and hold the prestigious role of Master Trustee to the DIFC Workplace Savings Plan (DEWS).
International Pension Plans
An International Pension Plan (IPP) involves a defined contribution plan that combines investment, administration and trust services which can be tailored to your company’s specific needs.
IPPs are particularly popular with companies who have employees who work abroad on international assignments or are employed on a globally mobile basis.
IPPs enable organisations to offer an advantageous pension scheme as part of an employee’s remuneration package - essential for attracting and retaining talent for multinational corporations.
Employers have been utilising IPP arrangements over the years as an ideal solution for employees that either:
- Move from their home country and are not able to remain in their home country pension scheme
- Are employed in a country that has insufficient or no pension availability
- Require a ‘top up’ to the local pension provision
IPPs provide flexibility in several areas such as:
- Contribution percentages for both employers and employees
- Currency and type of investment
- Vesting scales for employer contributions
- Number of countries and employer linked entities included in the IPP
- Benefit distribution options – lump sum, annuity, drawdown
- Portability of the members' pension pot
Employee Benefit Trusts
Employee Benefit Trusts (EBTs) have been established for several years to encourage employee share participation, acting as an important incentive for staff loyalty and productivity.
The term EBT is applied to a number of different types of trust. In general, an employer sets up an EBT as a vehicle to reward, motivate and incentivise employees. The benefits provided may be a share of profits, shares in the employer company, cash distributions or other employee incentives.
The features of EBTs include:
- A discretionary trust holding assets on behalf of a class of beneficiaries
- The trust is funded by the employer company
- The trustees provide employee benefits in recognition of performance and other related factors
- It is at the decision of the trustees only as to whom may benefit from the trust assets and the extent of such benefit
Benefits of EBTs:
- Share warehousing removes complex and costly UK share buyback provisions
- Private equity - allowing the company to buy back shares of a departing executive
- EBTs have been used as a market maker for the sale and purchase of shares in the employer company
- Tax considerations including capital gains tax and corporation tax
Employee Ownership Trusts
An Employee Ownership Trust (EOT) is a form of trust which holds the shares in a trading company for the benefit of employees. Unlike a conventional employee benefit trust, any benefit it confers on employees must include all of them (although a qualifying period of up to 12 months is allowed) on the same terms. EOTs allow shareholders of trading companies to sell some or all of their shares, while allowing those companies to continue under the same stewardship, creating a platform for continued growth and success.
Benefits of EOTs:
- Shareholders can sell their shares for full market value (based on an independent valuation)
- The directors and senior management can remain in place and continue to run the company
- No capital gains, income or inheritance tax liabilities should arise on the disposal of a controlling interest in a company to an EOT (or on the subsequent receipt of the purchase price by the former shareholders)
- Companies controlled by EOTs are also able to pay to employees cash bonuses of up to £3,600 each year without any income tax liability, provided that these are paid to all qualifying employees on the same terms
For more information regarding any of the above plans, please get in touch with Chris Cain, Mary Craven, Graham Marsh or Joe Cheung.
Equiom Fiduciary Services (Middle East) Limited is the Master Trustee and Operator of DEWS and is regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA).
This material is intended only for Professional Clients and Market Counterparties as defined by the DFSA, and no other person should act upon it. However all employers and employees participating in an Employee Money Purchase Scheme will be treated as Retail Clients under the DFSA requirements.
Any underlying investment options which may be selected in the structure can carry investment risk, whereby the value of the underlying investments can go down as well as up.
Equiom provides a range of payroll and people services that can be tailored to suit any company in the UAE, regardless of its size or the number of employees.
Our highly trained team can support your organisation’s needs, whether you are looking to reduce your operational costs or simply do not have the in-house expertise or resource available. Equiom complies with all the latest regulations in the region, so that you can rest assured your staff are taken care of for the duration of their employment, including setting up their visa, payroll and even taking care of their End of Service Gratuity.
Equiom provides an unrivalled level of service with fully dedicated client relationship teams on hand 24/7 to answer your questions.
Our payroll services in Abu Dhabi include:
- Provision of a secure UAE compliant monthly wage protection system (WPS)
- Co-ordination of payroll administration
- Maintenance of payroll related records including provision of payslips
- Assistance in obtaining mandatory UAE medical insurance
- HR consultancy services
- HR on-boarding and administration services
- UAE orientation
Our people services in Abu Dhabi include:
- Turnkey visa services for any company in any Emirate in the UAE, whether you need employment visas, dependent visas, investor visas, domestic worker visas (free zones), visit visas, golden visas, tourist visas, short-term visas, mission visas or even visa cancellation
Equiom provides outsourced Compliance, Risk and Money Laundering Reporting Officers (MLRO) to organisations in the UAE.
This service is ideal for SMEs, those who are thinking of setting up in the region, looking to consolidate an existing business, those looking for temporary cover when there are unexpected staff absences or even for organisations that wish to undertake additional compliance training.
Equiom’s managed compliance solutions are the perfect complement to any organisation and deliver considerable benefits to clients. Our hands-on experience means we are able to help our clients develop and manage effective compliance programs to identify issues before they become violations.
By appointing an Equiom Compliance Officer, MLRO or Risk Officer, you will be safe in the knowledge that the individual you will work with is:
- Authorised, qualified and experienced to carry out compliance duties
- A UAE resident
- Knowledgeable about the DFSA rulebook and regulatory obligations
- Familiar and capable with meeting reporting requirements and timelines
- Able to train your employees and Board of Directors
- Able to resolve complex regulatory and compliance issues
- Up-to-date with compliance issues (each team member undertakes over 35 hours of continuing professional development activities each year)
Equiom also provides advice and guidance to clients on regulatory issues and problems, as well as delivering training to firms in relation to compliance, anti-money laundering and countering terrorist financing. Training sessions are tailored to individual businesses and are designed to:
- Educate employees on compliance and regulatory matters
- Educate senior management about their regulatory responsibilities
- Fulfil mandatory AML training for all relevant employees to meet DFSA requirements (training should be provided to each relevant employee at least annually)
Equiom is also able to provide data protection advisory to clients in the UAE to:
- Assist in the assessment, design and implementation of appropriate controls for the processing of personal data and the general obligations of companies that hold personal data to secure and maintain its confidentiality and privacy
- Data protection training
- Outsourced Data Protection Officer
Our corporate insight gives you valuable foresight
For clients thinking of setting up a new business or branch of a foreign company, or those looking to consolidate the ownership structure of an existing company in the UAE, we simplify the process by providing an appropriate solution and structure.
Equiom (through Links Group, an Equiom Company) provides market leading corporate services ensuring clients meet their business needs. We help to incorporate, restructure and transfer sponsorship (Emirati ownership where required by UAE law) for hundreds of clients, protecting their ownership and ensuring that they maintain control of their interests every step of the way.
In addition to providing sponsorship solutions, Equiom is able to assist companies with options to maximise the safety and security of their company’s assets. Many foreign companies choose to hold their equity shareholding in the onshore UAE business through offshore structures. We provide support for offshore company formation both in the UAE and in other jurisdictions, as a registered agent, incorporating the holding companies. For clients, this translates into expert service, competitive fees and a quick turnaround time.
We offer the following company services across all Emirates of the UAE:
- Formation of a UAE Limited Liability Company (LLC) - this entity must be majority owned by an Emirati local partner. A Links Group controlled corporate entity wholly owned by Emirati nationals and managed by Links Group is able to act as a corporate local partner thereby minimising the risks associated with appointing an unknown individual, addressing succession issues and meeting the requirements of the UAE Commercial Companies Law
- Establishing a branch of a foreign company in the UAE, subject to market restrictions which Links Group is able to guide you through
- Change of local partner to a Links Group corporate partner
- Corporate restructuring to consolidate foreign party beneficial ownership and control
- Offshore company formation- the British Virgin Islands (BVI), Cayman Islands, RAK International Corporate Centre (RAK ICC) among others
- Free zone set up
- Notarisation & attestation services
- Escrow services
- Key personnel, including company directors, nominee shareholders and company secretarial services
Trust is something that is earned
Operating throughout the world’s most stable and reputable jurisdictions, our international trust and foundation specialists identify the most appropriate trust structures to protect and enhance your private or corporate wealth and assets.
Our experienced teams operate in both common law and civil law jurisdictions. We guide you through the complexities of local laws and regulations to find the right solution for you, organising the initial establishment of a trust or foundation and administering it carefully to maximise the benefits. We ensure its legal and tax status is maintained and provide regular accounting and financial reporting.
Over the years, we have earned an enviable reputation as leading professional trustees, dedicated to maintaining our clients’ prosperity. We aim to give you more control over your assets today, and more confidence about your holdings tomorrow – helping ensure that your family, employees, or favoured charities are well looked after for years to come.
In the UAE we can assist with:
- Private trust companies
- Managed trust companies
- Employee benefit trusts
- Employee ownership trusts
- Charitable trusts
- Property unit trusts
- Purpose trusts
- Will trusts/pilot trusts
- Executor services
- Benefits of a trust
- Asset protection and careful planning to ensure tax efficiency
- Succession planning with full control on how assets are distributed upon death
- Confidentiality and the avoidance of a public probate court hearing
Head of Middle East
Client Services Director (GRC Middle East)
Commercial Business Development Partner
Commercial Business Development Partner