It would be a shame if 2017 was overshadowed by a media frenzy based on some stolen data, because for Jersey, in the slightly paraphrased words of Ian Dury, there are plenty of reasons to be cheerful as we look forward to 2018.
There’s no doubt that over the coming year, jurisdictional differentiation is set to be even more important for international finance centres (IFCs) as they attempt to stand out from the crowd and set out their stalls as being an inherently different and new breed of offshore centre.
And there are plenty of ways in which Jersey is well placed to do just that – in fact, we’ve been doing it throughout 2017.
First, there’s our commitment to innovation. In 2017, Jersey brought a number of innovative and unique platforms to market. The Jersey Private Fund vehicle, for instance, was the fruit of a major streamlining process within our investment funds regime, designed to enable small numbers of sophisticated investors to bring their funds to market quickly. It’s been incredibly popular – already almost 70 JPFs have been established in its eight-month lifespan.
Meanwhile, Jersey’s Charity Law continued to be rolled out in phases, with a new Charities Commissioner having been appointed in 2017 and with a charities register due to be set up in 2018. It’s a framework that is unrivalled in other IFCs and really highlights Jersey’s ambitions in the global philanthropy space.
Other innovations are in the pipeline too – with Jersey continuing to stake its claim as a centre for digital excellence, the finance industry is focused on embracing the capabilities of virtual currencies, RegTech and WealthTech to enhance its proposition in a rapidly evolving FinTech environment. It’s the future of global finance, and Jersey intends to be part of it.
Second, there’s our extremely high regulatory standards. In fact, Jersey goes above and beyond most other countries where standards of regulation are concerned, and that was demonstrated in a number of ways in 2017.
In November Jersey became one of only six countries in the world to be found to be entirely tax compliant against OECD criteria after two rounds of peer review, and in December the EU’s Code of Conduct Group recognised Jersey as a cooperative jurisdiction following a year-long screening process.
Moreover, Jersey is taking its responsibilities even further, with the government having announced plans to address the issue of ‘economic substance’ over 2018 and most recently with Jersey having become just the third jurisdiction globally to have ratified the OECD’s MLI relating to BEPS into domestic law - the move underlines just how seriously Jersey takes its responsibilities in preventing multinational profit shifting.
The third - and perhaps most important - reason to be cheerful is the fact that there is clear evidence that centres like Jersey providing specialist cross-border financial services are an absolutely essential part of the global economy.
Every single one of the independent pieces of research Jersey Finance has commissioned over recent years has pointed to an undisputable trend – for globalisation to be prompting families, investors and governments to look increasingly for safe, secure and robust ways to put their capital to work in diverse markets, and for IFCs like Jersey to be ideally placed to service that demand.
Doing so is not just benefitting those investors either, but is having widespread knock-on effects benefitting communities around the world – by, for example, creating jobs and enabling the construction of hospitals, schools and offices.
Research published this year, for instance, showed that around £160bn of pension fund assets from all over the world are housed in Jersey, benefiting more than 60m people by helping to generate better returns for their retirement pot.
It’s research that builds on previous reports we’ve done that show, amongst other things, that Jersey is a net benefit of some £14bn to the UK economy, facilitates foreign investment into the UK of some £½trn and almost EUR200m into the EU each year, and that activity here supports hundreds of thousands of jobs in those markets.
Despite a populist narrative that seeks to misrepresent IFCs and a persistent mistrust in financial services more generally, the reality is that centres like Jersey shouldn’t just be tolerated – they should be acknowledged for performing an entirely positive function.
The good news is that there is real evidence that supports this, including Jersey Finance’ own library of independent research, which is formidable compared to other centres. We will be expanding this library further over the coming year to continue to illustrate, for example, the role Jersey plays in channelling investment flows around the world and enabling impact and green investment.
A commitment to innovation; high standards of regulation; and a clear ability to provide global economic benefits - all of this helps differentiate Jersey very favourably compared to other centres. As a result, we’re looking forward to having sensible conversations in 2018 about Jersey’s positive role as a responsible, expert IFC that is working around the world to help build a better future. That must be a reason to be cheerful.