A Bahamian delegation has visited Switzerland and London to meet with institutions and intermediaries that play a key role in driving business to the Bahamian financial services sector.
Brent Symonette, minister of financial services, trade and industry and Immigration, was joined by Tanya McCartney, the Bahamas Financial Services Board’s (BFSB) chief executive; Michael Paton, deputy chairman of the Securities Commission and past BFSB chairman; Ivan Hooper, co-chairman of the Association of International Banks and Trust companies (AIBT); and Indira Munro-Farrington, BFSB marketing officer.
The group travelled to Zurich and Geneva, as well as to London, from November 26 to December 2. They met with executives from a number of Swiss financial institutions that have a presence in The Bahamas, before hosting a forum for UK service providers and intermediaries in London.
Meetings were held with officials from UBS, Credit Suisse, the Pictet Bank group, SYZ Bank, Union Bancaire Privee, Gonet Bank & Trust and Safra Bank. The delegation provided updates on The Bahamas’ response to the various initiatives from the European Union (EU), Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and the Organisation for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD). In return, the Swiss financial institutions shared their strategies for growth in The Bahamas. The BFSB’s London forum focused on the investment funds and securities industry, as well as The Bahamas’ overall “value proposition”. The London forum, called Spotlight on The Bahamas, was held at the Reform Club on November 28. Delegates attending the event included financial services professionals, advisers and fund managers from the City of London.
“Times are different than when The Bahamas financial services industry started over 85 years ago,” Mr Symonette told attendees. “We recognise the need to be innovative in our approach, in the dawn of uncertainty, to display our strength and commitment as a sustainable International Financial Centre. This is essential for The Bahamas as financial services is integral to the sustainability of our economy.”
The forum began with a presentation by Christina Rolle, the Securities Commission’s executive director, who gave an in-depth review of the Investments Funds Bill 2018 and the regulatory environment in The Bahamas. She also provided an update on the Bahamas’ implementation of the AIFMD licensing regime.
This was followed by a roundtable discussion hosted by James Williams, managing editor at Hedgeweek. The panel, which consisted of Mr Paton; Ryan Pinder, partner, Graham Thompson & Company; Linda Beidler-D’Aguilar, partner, Glinton, Sweeting & O’Brien; and Heather L Thompson, Higgs & Johnson, discussed themes including Immigration; fintech (financial technology); private wealth management; asset management; banking; trust services; and the regulatory environment.
Ms McCartney said: “In light of the various regulatory changes taking place in the sector, it is important that Bahamian professionals and service providers meet and interact with their international institutions and service providers to inform them of what those changes will be, and our strategy for the continued growth and development of the financial services sector.
“In the absence of direct information there is uncertainty, which can have a negative effect if left unchecked. Hence we met directly with executives of the Swiss financial institutions and hosted an event in the City of London to convey our commitment to adhering to international standards, provide an update on the products and services being offered in the jurisdiction, and to articulate the evolving Bahamas value proposition.”
Ms McCartney also paid a courtesy call on The Bahamas’ high commissioner, Ellison Greenslade, at the High Commission in London. He was also in attendance at the London forum.