(Wednesday, 14th November 2018)
by Cindy Emmanuel-McLean,
consulting partner at TM ANTOINE Partners
TM ANTOINE Partners Advisory has carved out a special place in the citizenship by investment landscape of Saint Lucia, the Caribbean and the globe. As an authorised agent, registered in Saint Lucia, we do not just help clients submit their applications for citizenship of Saint Lucia – our work is much more specific and detailed than that. We specialise in creating targeted solutions for each client. This includes helping clients choose the best Caribbean citizenship programme for their circumstances. The individualised approach to citizenship by investment was a result of a conscious effort to make the clients and their solutions the first and only focus for our citizenship advisory.
Before launching the citizenship advisory as part of the law firm of TM ANTOINE Partners, Thaddeus M. Antoine, the managing partner, travelled extensively attending citizenship by investment conferences and educating himself about the industry. He played a pivotal role in helping shape Saint Lucia’s programme as a Senator of Government in 2015/2016. During his many fact-finding missions, he met extensively with marketing agents, promoters, agents and government officials. The conferences did not cater to the individuals who would be applying for citizenship. Everything to be learnt about the needs of the clients was offered by third, fourth- and fifth-party service providers.
Thirty months ago, in March of 2016, TM ANTOINE Partners Advisory submitted the first application for citizenship by investment. Today, the process used by the company to assess clients, prepare applications for submission and communicate with clients has completely evolved. Everything we do is aimed at making our assertion that we provide five-star service, offering a tailored approach for the unique circumstances of each of our clients from enquiry to citizenship, the reality that the client experiences when working with us. This is first evidenced by the free Pre-Application Assessment that is offered by TM ANTOINE Partners Advisory to each of the clients who express an interest in applying for citizenship of Saint Lucia.
Finding the perfect fit
The free Pre-Application Assessment involves conducting an initial due diligence background check on the prospective applicant. Any areas of concern are immediately pointed out to the client and discussed as to how it would affect their application for citizenship. Where the due diligence background check reveals issues that legislatively would prohibit the prospective applicant from obtaining citizenship of Saint Lucia, TM ANTOINE Partners Advisory advises the client that the application cannot proceed. This is a clear example of putting the interests of the client ahead of those of the company.
Another key feature of the Pre-Application Assessment is providing clients with a comprehensive estimate of the costs of obtaining citizenship of Saint Lucia as well as the other four countries offering citizenship by investment in the Caribbean. Cost is perhaps the most significant factor for some clients and there is value in giving the clients the full range of options available to them. The result of that practice is that each client gets to apply for the Caribbean programme that is the best fit for them. That is important to TM ANTOINE Partners Advisory, more critical than persuading every client to subscribe to any single programme. We are always happy to meet the clients’ needs either on our own or through our trusted partners throughout the Caribbean.
TM ANTOINE Partners is committed to guiding prospective applicants who, after the completion of the Free Pre-Applicant Assessment, have determined that they will proceed with their application. We design a customised checklist for each applicant detailing the documents and forms that they will need. Clients who follow the TMA checklist save time by focusing their efforts on only what is needed to complete their application. We will often include a request for additional supporting documents not ordinarily required by the Citizenship by Investment Unit. We do so because a complete application should answer all questions that are likely to arise about our clients. This approach has resulted in an almost 100% success rate for the applications we submit to the Unit.
Our TMA Online Tool is used to provide Assessment Feedback to clients who can provide corrections, additional information and explanations online in real time. This has reduced the time it takes to get a file ready for submission by over 65%. Our Assessment Feedback is detailed and lets each client know exactly what must be done to bring their application into compliance with the requirements of the Citizenship by Investment Unit.
Meeting client expectations
TM ANTOINE Partners Advisory would love to boast 100% satisfaction among our clients but at this time it is not possible to do so. Of most concern to clients is what they see as the inordinate amount of time it takes for their applications to be processed. Other than costs, the processing time is the second most quoted reason for our clients choosing other Caribbean islands. It is clear that Saint Lucia values its reputation and therefore puts a premium on due diligence background check on all applicants. This accounts for the longest part of the application process and sometimes takes the delivery of decisions on applications way beyond the desired 90 days.
As new options for obtaining a second citizenship are being offered to global citizens, it is critical that the Caribbean become more responsive to the needs of the clients. Governments processes are often clogged with bureaucracy and political interests but that should not dissuade them from building an elasticity into their citizenship by investment programmes that allows them to change to meet the ever-changing expectations of prospective investment citizens. Other Caribbean islands, most recently Grenada, and especially Dominica and St. Kitts have managed this process relatively well. In recent times, these countries have made changes to their offerings, which we believe make them more attractive to the global market.
Based on the requests that we are getting from our clients Saint Lucia is lagging in significant ways. Our clients want the option to add new members of their family to their applications after approval. They want to apply for their dependent children who are past the age of 25. They need to include their children between the ages of 18 and 25 who are not currently enrolled in schools. All these are options which they have in the other Caribbean countries and are willing to pay a premium to get them. We must strive the find the balance between our need to protect our reputation and the desired longevity and viability of our Programme.
The desired future
At TM ANTOINE Partners we still concur with the findings of the Task Force on Citizenship by Investment who proffered that there are five important decision-making factors for persons considering investment in a CIP programme.
• Cost – measuring the costs pertinent to the application and the net investment that the applicant is required to make.
• Speed – the time it takes to citizenship
• Global Mobility – the total number of countries accessible visa-free on a passport as well as access to the most desirable places to visit
• Simplicity – clarity and seamlessness of the application process
• Quality of Life – based on external quality of life indices.
For at least three of the five factors, there are simple, easy and painless steps that Saint Lucia can take to increase the unique selling point of its Programme. We must find ways to effectively reduce the time it takes to get to a decision. An aggressive campaign of increasing the number of countries with which we have visa-free access must be pursued while working diligently to protect those existing visa-free relationships. The application process needs to be streamlined by reducing the number of forms to be completed, widening the range of supporting documents that can be used to bolster one’s case for obtaining citizenship and presenting options for applicants to engage with the Programme.
Saint Lucia – Let her inspire you
Given all the changes that TM ANTOINE Partners Advisory would like to see in the Programme we are always ready to answer the question – why Saint Lucia?
We are unashamed to provide you with the most biased answer that we can provide – Saint Lucia is simply good. Saint Lucia is simply good for business with a diversified economy, diversified and skilled labour force and a diversified investment portfolio. Saint Lucia is simply good for life. Our life expectancy is 74.5 years for men and 79 for women. We have a rich and vibrant culture that caters to every lifestyle. Saint Lucia is simply good for fantasy. Oprah Winfrey described Saint Lucia as the number one location to see before you die. That is further endorsed by the numerous couples that have made Saint Lucia consistently rank as the number one wedding and honeymoon destination in the world, most recently in 2018.
TM ANTOINE Partners wants to give you your passport to Saint Lucia, to freedom. Please contact me to discuss your options.