It’s often noted by our contacts that the strength of Jersey Finance’s – and the Jersey industry’s – network around the world is one of our biggest selling points.
The efforts we have put in to creating and nurturing global relationships as part of our strategic vision over the past decade has really borne fruit – it has meant that today more than half of new business booked in Jersey is from markets beyond Europe, right across the private wealth, funds, banking and corporate areas.
It’s a strategic vision that was based on the understanding that, as regulatory standards shift and as investment flows become more and more sophisticated, stable well-regulated environments are increasingly sought after, and specialist cross border expertise is more and more valuable.
It’s a future driven by global capability, and Jersey is well placed to deliver on that.
In particularly challenging circumstances over the past year or so, Jersey Finance’s team of market specialists have really come together to guide and support our contacts; to give them a joined-up service that other IFCs have found difficult to replicate.
That connectivity and focus on building international relationships has been particularly evident in recent months in our work in the Middle East, which continues to be a major market for Jersey firms.
We are seeing increasingly diverse workflows emanating from the Middle East, building on the private wealth proposition for which Jersey has earned a strong reputation to now include corporate and alternative fund structuring – the launch of the Ethos Invest £1bn fintech fund through Jersey, spurring investment into the Islamic economy, is a case in point.
With that in mind, over the past year, Jersey Finance has focused on building its visibility and reach significantly in the region, through our Dubai based Business Development Directors, Faizal Bhana and An Kelles, and by commenting frequently on diverse areas from female leadership to Islamic finance structuring to sustainable finance.
And in the last couple of months, we’ve really seen our relationship with the Middle East accelerate even further.
Two events in October looked at the opportunities presented by Sovereign Wealth Funds in the Middle East and at Women in Leadership, whilst two events in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in November focused on the intergenerational transfer of wealth to the next generation.
We also had a strong presence at the flagship two-day STEP Arabia conference in Dubai in November, where we hosted sessions looking at trust structuring in a digital age and at the impact of global macro developments on the private wealth landscape. In addition, for the fifth year in a row, Jersey was named ‘Best IFC’ at the 8th Annual WealthBriefing MENA Awards.
And then in mid-November, as the core focal point of our activities in the region this year, we held our flagship conference in Dubai, marking the tenth anniversary of Jersey Finance opening an office in the UAE. It’s also 15 years since Jersey’s regulator, the Jersey Financial Services Commission, signed its first agreement with the Dubai Financial Services Authority.
It was a particularly significant event – just prior to it, the Government of Jersey penned a new Bilateral Investment Treaty with the Government of the UAE. It was the first treaty of its kind signed by Jersey and the result of a lot of hard work and negotiations spanning several years. It will play an important role in supporting greater flows of investment between the two jurisdictions.
Then, at the event itself, we launched some ground-breaking new research looking at trends shaping the Islamic private wealth sector. It provides some unique insights into the evolving needs of Muslim high net worth individuals, and highlights what private wealth managers, financial services providers and international jurisdictions need to do in order to meet those needs.
Then, following that event, Jersey Finance signed its own agreement – an MoU – with the Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC) Authority. Another significant development, it will pave the way for closer collaboration and cooperation over the coming years. It’s an agreement that builds on Jersey becoming the first IFC to have an office within the DIFC in 2018.
But whilst it’s an agreement stemming from a commitment from both sides for over a decade, this is a very forward-looking agreement. What this flurry of activity for us in the Middle East illustrates is that future-focused IFCs, like Jersey and Dubai, understand the need to be proactive, ready to adapt and keen to collaborate if they are to be successful and continue to meet the needs of investors in the long-term.
As IFCs, we share a desire for progress and innovation – our conference in Dubai, for instance, highlighted the changing ambitions of the next generation, the shifting landscape for family businesses, the innovation within Islamic wealth management, and a family office sector that is looking to the future with optimism.
And we also value our partnerships and relationships, in the knowledge that navigating increasingly complex regulatory frameworks, tackling cybercrime, taking a lead on ESG, meeting the needs of increasingly sophisticated investors, and driving positive social change, all needs joined-up thinking.
Ours is a people business and as our recent activity in the Middle East has shown, positive relationships, collaboration, cooperation, and connectivity around the world are all vital if we are all to be successful.
As a jurisdiction, we look forward to building on our new framework for cooperation with Dubai and the UAE and will continue to focus on fostering international relationships as a core part of our activity in 2022.
Understanding how partnerships deliver value is central to our ethos – which is why we’ll be launching some new research before the end of the year looking at Jersey’s global economic footprint.
It’s an important piece of work, providing an insight into the increasingly broad reach Jersey has around the world and the positive value Jersey adds to international markets – value delivered through strong, global partnerships.