(By Datuk Chin Chee Kee, founder)
Years have flown by. I remember coming to Labuan in 1981. Back then Labuan was a sleepy town with no form of entertainment and only one high rise building to speak of. The tallest building then was Hotel Labuan which is a 10-storey building! There were constant water shortage and power failure. You had to have dinner before 7 p.m. otherwise you can not find one after that. I used to tell my friends that Labuan was a cowboy-town, a town without any activities after dark. However, since the declaration of Labuan as an IOFC on 1 October 1990, the government have developed the infrastructure of Labuan and Labuan has indeed transformed from cowboy-town into a modern island with high rise buildings and modern facilities.
When Labuan was declared an IOFC in 1990, Noblehouse was one of the pioneer trust companies to set up in Labuan. Our company was incorporated as J Ambrose & Partners Trust Sdn Bhd on 7 January 1991 and obtained its trust company licence on 28 January 1991, the sixth trust company to be licenced in Labuan. We officially started operation on 1 February 1991. The company was a partnership between Datuk Joseph Ambrose Lee and myself, the first among local boys with big ambitions to be provider of international offshore financial services.
I remember receiving a call from Datuk Joseph Lee in late 1990. And it was from this telephone call that the idea of setting up J Ambrose & Partners Trust was mooted. I met Datuk Lee in 1982 when both of us were sent (actually exiled would be the proper word to use) to Labuan to set up branches of the firms we worked for. Datuk Lee worked for a legal firm and I worked for an accounting firm then. Our offices were in the same building but in different floors. By 1990, both of us had our own firms. Datuk by that time had made it big in Labuan and I was still a small and up start accounting practitioner. We agreed in the telephone conversation that the local boys must enter the offshore financial services industry in order to show the world that there was dependable local expertise as well. So Datuk Lee provided the capital and I set up the necessary infrastructure to have the company going. We started off with no employee and I myself was doing all the work. We managed to break even in the very first year of operation.
Our knowledge and expertise as well as our excellence customer services attracted Jardine Matheson Trust Corporation of Jersey to take notice of us. JMTC was a wholly owned subsidiary of Jardines Matheson of Hong Kong, one of the Taipans in the early 1900s. JMTC, Datuk Lee and myself entered into a joint venture agreement in September 1993 and I was only a minority shareholder then. To reflect the joint venture, the name of the company was changed to Matheson Ambrose Trust Sdn Bhd.
Jardine Matheson Group and Datuk Lee disposed off their interests in Matheson Ambrose Trust in September 2000 and I became the sole owner of the trust company. With this change of shareholder, the brand name "Matheson" could not be used as part of our name.
So we held a contest in the office for the staff to come out with the best name for our change of name. Several names were offered and we finally settled on the name "Noblehouse". Our choice of the name "Noblehouse" was influenced by the novels of James Clavell who wrote the best sellers "Tai Pan", "Noblehouse" and many others. There was this link of Jardines in the novels and I was truly fascinated with the grandeur and business empire of the Tai Pans. And so, the name "Noblehouse" was adopted.
On 14 April 2004, Noblehouse International Trust Sdn Bhd became Noblehouse International Trust Ltd when all trust companies were required to be converted to offshore companies by law.
Being involved in the offshore service industry since the inception of Labuan as an IOFC has been a truly educating and wonderful experience for me personally. When Labuan was first declared an IOFC, there was sceptism from critics whether Labuan will be able to make it and I believe Labuan has proved these critics wrong. Labuan is still going on strong and the regulating authority, Labuan Offshore Financial Services Authority, has kept up with global changes and ensure that Labuan has successfully complied with international financial standards of compliances, such as IMF and the OCED.
am very proud that Noblehouse could be counted as one of these success
stories. Noblehouse started off as two directors operations and today I
have 12 staff under my wings. We are not one of the BIG BOYS in town but
neither are we the SMALLEST. But I do believe we could be counted to
deliver the best personal customer service to our customers. In order to
commemorate with our 15th Anniversary (2006) we also launch our company
tag-line - "We deliver what you REALLY want". We are now putting the
need of our customers in priority to the products we offered.
We celebrate Noblehouse's 20th Anniversary (2011) and changed the tag-line to "+Trust Noblehouse" indicating a more professional and convincing tag-line to everyone.
We are proudly announce that Noblehouse is still going strong as year 2016 is approaching. We will be celebrating Silver Jubilee Anniversary with our respectful clients who had supported us since beginning and to let us come this far. We strive to delivering the excellent service to our prospective client. Let's celebrate with us!