By NATARIO McKENZIE
Tribune Business Reporter
A former Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB) chairman said yesterday that, compared to its competitors, this nation has not done a good job marketing itself to key markets in the financial services industry, arguing that board has not been equipped with enough resources to effectively market the industry.
Michael Paton, partner in the firm Lennox Paton and head of its Corporate and Commercial, Investment Funds and Banking and Finance Groups, while speaking on a panel at the Association of International Bank & Trust Companies (AIBT), said that while this nation has proven that it can develop a good suite of product legislation, it has not done a good job with respect to marketing the jurisdiction to key markets.
“I think we do have a very good suite of product legislation in The Bahamas,” said Mr Paton. “We have put a lot of effort into that and we have proven over the last 10-15 years that we do what it takes to develop cutting edge legislation and the ICON is a good example. As we see the market develop for international private wealth management services we have a very good suite of legislation to offer. However, we need to get the client in front of us or we need to get in front of the client. As a jurisdiction, we have not, compared to some of our competitor jurisdictions, necessarily done a very good job of marketing the jurisdiction into the key markets that we think are key to us today and will be key 10-15 years from now,”
He added: “The BFSB was formed because there was a need for a more private sector and government partnership in doing this but the resources dedicated to BFSB have to a certain extent hamstrung BFSB because in all seriousness we haven’t put enough resources into this organisation. So the question is: are we prepared to do more in that area? We either need to up the resources to BFSB or come up with an alternative model to do something similar.”
Mr Paton noted that automatic exchange of the information landscape will put pressure on the legacy business and the undeclared business.
“The bigger threat to the legacy business and the undeclared business is going to be that we have a legal obligation to implement the FATF recommendation which essentially criminalised foreign tax evasion. The challenge is going to be how we implement that, so that we are compliant with our FATF obligations without criminalising business practices that have been heretofore considered legitimate.
“That is a big challenge,” said Mr Paton.