Since taking steps to mitigate the impact of the financial crisis ten years ago by rolling out a unique strategic vision, we’ve seen the rise of protectionism, Brexit negotiations, volatility in key overseas markets, considerable political uncertainty, and rafts of international regulatory initiatives, not to mention ongoing debates around beneficial ownership and fighting financial crime.
These challenges have persisted in 2018 but, whilst some other centres have stuttered, Jersey is setting itself apart by asserting its absolute belief in what we do and why we do it – that what we do here can help create a better future for people the world over, and professionals in all corners of the world are seeing that.
It’s significant, for instance, that 50% of new business attracted to Jersey now comes from outside Europe – Jersey has evolved from being a hub for UK and European capital to being a reputable centre for facilitating global financial flows.
It’s through our actions that we prove our worth and this is clearly demonstrated by our commitment to innovation, digital capabilities and the highest levels of oversight and governance.
Our workforce has grown over the year to stand at over 13,280 dedicated professionals – the largest of any Crown Dependency or Overseas Territory – demonstrating expertise, service quality and real substance.
And right across our industry, we’re ending the year with a hugely impressive set of results – our funds sector now administers over £300bn of assets, an all-time high; our banking sector is impressively resilient, with core customer deposits remaining stable; and our trust and company administration sector reported robust annual growth of 9%.
Our positive position is no accident – over the course of the year, we’ve continued to bring innovations to the market. The Jersey Private Fund, for example, has become a huge success, with more than 180 having been established since they were introduced in 2017 managing around £20bn of assets.
We’ve also enhanced our Charities Law and Trusts Law to meet the demands of an increasingly global private wealth environment; we’ve galvanised our Companies Law, introducing demerger legislation; we’ve brought enhanced LLC and LLP products to market to support investment and corporate activity; and we’ve most recently launched a new International Savings Plan product to support non-resident employees at multinationals – we expect to see significant interest in this into 2019.
Just this month, Jersey also bolstered its anti-money laundering and financial crime framework, and approved vital new legislation on economic substance.
In the digital space Digital Jersey hosted its first ever Techweek and FinTech Day this year, which Jersey Finance was pleased to support, whilst trailblazing crypto exchange Binance signed an MoU with Digital Jersey, and our regulator continued to provide useful guidance around ICOs and crypto activity.
Reinforcing our commitment to supporting global, forward-thinking business, we’ve also continued to bring new insights to market through research on emerging areas, such as debt funds, impact investing and next generation wealth, and on key overseas markets such as China and the GCC.
Of particular note was our GCC whitepaper, ‘Wealth Structuring and the International Financial Centres: Perspectives from the GCC’. The research itself underlined the vital role Jersey can play in supporting the global investment and wealth planning ambitions of GCC families, but it was given extra poignancy as it was launched at the opening of Jersey Finance’s new Dubai office in November – making Jersey the first IFC to have an office in the Dubai International Finance Centre.
Of course, our focus on the local community is key and the Future Connect initiative launched this year, as well as our Life in Finance programme and Finance Fayre, is reaching out successfully to a younger segment of our workforce.
As we look forward to 2019, we should be confident about our future as a progressive finance centre, but not complacent. On its own, the fallout of Brexit will be complex, whilst economic market cycles, social unrest around the world, and digital disruption will all pose challenges too.
As an industry, we can mitigate those challenges by providing innovative, intuitive products, continuing to harness global links, offering a strong and nimble regulatory framework, and by leading the way for digital and physical infrastructure. In 2019, for instance, expect to see more in the digital space and Jersey capitalise on its growing international reputation – a new office in New York, for instance, will enhance our pan-Atlantic links.
One of our greatest assets, though, is our people, and I know that the quality of the expertise we have here will put us in a fantastic position as we ready ourselves both for the challenges and opportunities that come our way in the coming 12 months, enabling Jersey to continue to differentiate itself on the global stage.