I was privileged to present the Awards at the Association of Jersey Charities event at Government House this Sunday. The event was hosted by the Lieutenant Governor and Lady McColl and presented by Gary Burgess of Channel TV. A truly outstanding job was done by all, and the contribution of the charities up for awards was remarkable and tremendously encouraging.
Launched to recognise and celebrate local charities’ achievements, the Awards help raise the profile of charitable and voluntary activities within the island, and we were delighted to sponsor the prizes which are awarded to the overall small, medium and large category winners, as a result of our financial heritage celebrations.
The awards began in 2011 and 2013 marked the second event which is held bi-annually. 2011 marked the 50th anniversary of the Jersey finance industry.
Although the first bank in Jersey was formed in 1797, the modern finance industry began in the 1960's, in fact the same year (1961) that the Beatles first performed in the Cavern club, the year Russia put the first man into space, and also the year of a number of famous births including Barack Obama.
The industry grew quickly expanding from banking into managing investments, providing trusts and more recently company formation and fund administration work. Today the finance industry manages around £1.2trn of value and has clients in over 200 countries around the world. Recent innovation has taken place in the fields of launching internet funds, in clean technology and in philanthropy, all of which are of particular value to developing countries.
The Jersey finance industry has been recognised by bodies such as the International Monetary Fund, the OECD and the World Bank as having very high standards of business conduct, amongst the best achieved by any country, in fact more highly rated than the United Kingdom and the USA.
The finance industry provides a living for many Island families and currently employs almost 12,500 people and provides around half of the vital government revenues needed to support essential public services.
Importantly more than £400m is spent by the finance industry in the local economy, benefitting local Jersey businesses to the tune of over £1m pounds every single day of the year
But finance isn't just about business and complicated numbers, it is about the people who work in it, friends, neighbours, families, who along with their businesses give significant time to charitable causes in the Island, supporting the community that hosts our industry.
But the subject of Philanthropy has along and a proud history in Jersey.
TB Davis was born into a working class family in Havre des Pas, Jersey in 1867. When work was available in the local shipyards, his father was a carpenter, otherwise he was a fisherman. Davis started working on a fishing boat when he was nine years old after school and at the weekends. He became a full time fisherman when he left school at the age of 12 and two years later took up a career as a seaman.
After a colourful career including being lost at sea and declared dead, in late 1900 he came ashore and emigrated to South Africa where he embarked upon a second career organising port services along the Indian Ocean.
Although he made his fortune his life was struck by tragedy when his second son, Howard Leopold Davis, was killed from wounds received during the Battle of the Somme. In his later years he donated vast amounts of his money to charities in memory of his dead son. Amongst the gifts he gave to his home island were the Howard Davis Farm, the Howard Davis Park, Howard Hall at Victoria College and various charitable bequests like the Howard Davis Scholarship.
Between 1922 and 1940, in the era of hunger marches, the Wall Street Crash and the Great Depression, T B Davis gave away an estimated million pounds to what he deemed to be good causes. That’s about £30m in today’s money!
A timely reminder in these troubled financial times that wealth is relative, and we have an ongoing imperative to help those less fortunate than ourselves.
Our aim throughout our anniversary celebrations in 2011 was to raise money which would make a real difference to worthy local causes. We wanted to re-affirm the industry’s commitment to engage with and support the local community.
Over the course of 2011 and 2012 we were able to raise £50,000 into a Jersey Foundation and it is these funds that provided the prizes for the awards on Sunday.
Whether it’s large organisations formally supporting charities as part of their corporate social responsibility and employee engagement programmes; or individuals who choose to give their personal time to a whole plethora of good causes, the contribution made by those who have a direct connection to the island’s biggest industry is immense, and that is something we are very proud of as the body that promotes the industry more widely.