Finance Industry Shows Resilience Against a Backdrop of Significant Global Pressures

The Survey of Financial Institutions published yesterday (Wednesday 28 June) shows that, despite a slight annual fall in its overall contribution, the finance industry continues to be the driving force in Jersey’s economy, with strong employment growth and increased expenditure on local goods and services.

The survey, which is compiled by the States of Jersey Statistics Unit and based on data for 2016, shows that, overall, the industry’s gross value added (GVA – calculated by adding total operating surpluses and employee compensations) fell by 2% in real terms compared to 2015, but rose by 3% compared to 2013.

Despite growth in the trust and company administration sector, which was up 10% year-on-year, the unchanged GVA in the legal, fund management and accountancy sectors, and the 4% fall in banking meant that overall there was a slight decline.

Geoff Cook, CEO of Jersey Finance, said: “These figures show that financial services continues to be the driving force in Jersey’s economy and resilient in a challenging global economy. Our banking sector is the engine room and performing effectively in the face of low interest rates internationally, which affect its productivity, while trust and company administration continues to perform extremely well.”

The survey also shows that productivity (inflation-adjusted GVA divided by the number of employees) fell by 4% in real terms compared to 2015.

“A fall in productivity should in no way be seen as the workforce being less effective,” Mr Cook said. “We are operating with far more regulation with associated increases in costs which impacts directly on productivity figures. It is not a criticism but an observation to say that the increased requirement for regulation and information exchange has affected productivity. The growth in regulatory and compliance staff has boosted employment but will have diluted productivity as they don’t generate revenue and are productive in a way which is measured differently.

“We saw very good years in 2014 and 2015, and the trend continues to be positive, but the reality is that the cost of business is rising, and firms are needing to work harder to generate the kind of revenues they were used before the 2007-2008 crisis.

“It is very difficult to compare current performance to 2007, which was an extraordinary year, and that period is now widely accepted as being both exceptional and unsustainable. The world is very different now, and we are operating with far more regulation. That said employment growth and tax contributions in the last few years have been strong and current momentum is good. This shows that our strategy of focusing on good-quality business remains the right one.”

Total expenditure on employees in 2016 – including salaries, bonus payments, employer social security and pension contributions – remained unchanged compared to 2015, at £780 million. The survey also showed that the industry spent 15% more on goods and services in 2016 compared to the previous year. Of the £820 million spent, more than £1 million per day was spent in Jersey.

In addition, employment figures have reached pre-crisis levels, which is a strong indicator of economic performance, with more than 300 local students being recruited each year for the past four years.

Mr Cook said: “It is particularly pleasing to note that recruitment of local staff from school or university remains strong, with 39% more recruited compared to 2007, and 45% more compared to 2012. Our members expect there to be an additional 1,000 vacancies by 2021, and one of the jobs for Jersey Finance is to continue to attract the local community to the rewarding careers they can enjoy.”

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