Naturally, it's best to consult with qualified accountants and attorneys to make sure your clients are following all the rules and taking advantage of all the tax incentives available.
-- Ben Mattlin

U.S. Boutique Challenges Big Names In China
(Dow Jones) Chicago-based Schlindwein Associates LLC has just $160 million in assets under management, but it's got something many larger firms don't: an office in China.

The 15-year-old RIA, which manages money for high-net-worth individuals, opened a one-person Beijing office in late 2009 to gauge local investments and set the stage for advising Chinese clients. It is supervised by a former student of Schlindwein Associates' founder and managing director, Timothy Schlindwein, who used to teach at the University of Chicago.

The country's economy is booming and, according to the consultancy Capgemini, its millionaire population controls about 22% of the Asian-Pacific region's private wealth and expanded by 31% in 2009. Still, that doesn't fully explain why a firm of Schlindwein's size would create a presence 6,000 miles from home.

It clearly appealed to Schlindwein's sense of adventure. "There are things that just strike your fancy," he says. He's quick to add that China is only roughly analogous to post-Iron Curtain Europe. "Change is coming, markets are opening, but China is very complicated with a very different culture that can be hard to understand," he says.

A Beijing office gives Schlindwein Associates a better read on the Chinese economy and something of a profile in China's interlocking business and government circles. His former student, Xiaoli Chen Youker, so impressed Schlindwein at the University of Chicago's Booth School of Business that he hired her in 2008 to investigate China's demand for Western-style investment services.
Her research pointed to growing demand among affluent Chinese for advice on diversified portfolios and long-term strategies instead of traditional approaches favoring one-off transactions.

Further, Youker found signs that a small firm like Schlindwein Associates could compete with a constellation of global investment providers such as UBS, Credit Suisse, Deutsche Bank, HSBC and Citigroup, as well as state-owned giants like the Bank of China and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China.

Schlindwein figures it will take years, maybe another decade, of spadework and networking before Youker can start adding Chinese clients. Meanwhile, he's happy to be on the ground there to gather intelligence on Chinese investments for the benefit of its U.S. clients.
Copyright © 2011 Dow Jones & Co. Inc.

Northern Trust Creates LGBT Family Practice
Northern Trust last month formally announced its Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender (LGBT) and non-traditional family practice. The company, long one of the traditional blue blood firms in the wealth management industry, said the new practice will provide fiduciary and wealth management services for this non-mainstream market.

John McGowan will be the new unit's national practice leader in charge of rolling out the program in the 18 states where Northern Trust does business. Previously, McGowan was a senior relationship manager in Northern Trust's Wealth Management Group that focuses on ultra-high-net-worth families and their family offices.