On the 22nd of June 1948 members of the Princely House of Liechtenstein founded Industrie- und Finanzkontor to restore family assets after the end of the Second World War and to manage them in a more targeted manner. The long-term safeguarding of assets and wealth emerged as a general key issue.
In the course of the turmoil of the First and Second World Wars, substantial assets had been lost and livelihoods had been destroyed. These events sharpened the awareness that assets – be they tangible or intangible - could be lost at any time.
Starting at the end of the 1940s, a rapid economic upswing set in throughout Western Europe, enabling new wealth and social prosperity to be built up over a relatively short time. In Germany, economic policy under the leadership of Ludwig Erhard contributed significantly to the economic miracle. But reconstruction also led to economic growth in other European countries.
In Northern Europe, the fear of a Soviet invasion prevailed; the threat of a rule by communist parties loomed in Italy and France. The Cold War was in full swing, long-term safety and peace was doubted despite international agreements. Marked by the losses that had accompanied the war years, people wanted safety for their families and protection against a renewed loss for at least a portion of their wealth. The protection aspect became increasingly important.
Liechtenstein: a safe haven
Liechtenstein was seen as a politically neutral and secure location. Back in the 1920s, the respective cornerstones were laid:
- 1923 the Liechtenstein Parliament enacted a business friendly tax law
- 1924 the Swiss franc was adopted as the official national currency
- 1926 the Persons and Companies Act (PCA) took effect providing the in Continental Europe unique legal form of a family foundation
- 1938 Prince Franz Josef II. of Liechtenstein’s reign began
The Prince and the Government laid a significant focus on the economic development of Liechtenstein and on a lean administration. Over the time, Industrie- und Finanzkontor developed into a leading service provider in the fiduciary sector, with a specific tradition and expertise in wealth structuring for the protection and long-term preservation of wealth, family values and businesses. The roots of Industrie- und Finanzkontor in the Princely House of Liechtenstein – that can look back at over 900 years of family history – shaped the required understanding of assets and the sense of responsibility for the future generations.
Where we are today
Geopolitical upheavals, armed conflicts and monetary upheavals cause national laws to take international standards into consideration, such standards being set by the major states and promoted via international organizations such as the OECD. In addition, social egalitarianism and a generally critical attitude towards wealth is being propagated and poses a threat to property rights.
However, property rights are a necessity for a stable society and economy. Competition is the essence of social welfare. Privacy is essential for a self-determined life of freedom. Today, however, the recognition of a diffuse collectivism and the striving for a misinterpreted equality sets the tone. In such an environment, the desire for safety and a legitimate protection for family, businesses and private property is once again gaining in importance.
For 75 years we at Industrie- und Finanzkontor have served families and entrepreneurs. We focus on the long-term and multi-generational preservation of wealth and values. We set up and manage asset structures via legal entities such as foundations, trusts and other corporate bodies. In doing so, we make sure that these asset structures meet current international requirements and at the same time are flexible enough to be adapted to future changes. We always take a holistic view of both: the assets and the family.
How we see the future
It is important to abandon the fallacy that asset protection solutions are motivated by dubious or fiscal reasons. The lawful protection of assets and values is a legitimate and understandable basic need that has always been part of human existence. Thinking in generations, implemented through asset structures, expresses a great sense of responsibility towards both, what one has created and who are to carry it on. This is reflected in the activities of Industrie- und Finanzkontor.
We are ready for the next 75 years. We will closely monitor future developments in the technological, regulatory and geopolitical spheres, etc. in order to evaluate the resulting opportunities and risks at an early stage and to develop the possibilities for asset structuring and asset preservation with foresight and in the best interest of our clients.