Nick Kershaw, Ogier Group CEO, chaired the first high-level policy conference, International Financial Centres: Sharing Perspectives and Meeting the Challenges organised by The Commonwealth Secretariat and the IFC Forum on 20th and 21st October in London.

The event examined the role of small international financial centres (IFCs) in the global economy and included perspectives from the OECD, governments, business leaders, respected academics and the media. The conference called on the OECD and G20 to adopt a more constructive approach to dealing with small International Financial Centres, which included securing a commitment to work in a more collaborative partnership and the adoption of a more balanced tone which drops the use of words like tax haven.

The IFC Forum was created in 2009 against a backdrop of a world that was becoming increasingly hostile and aggressive towards small international financial centres. It was formed with the purpose of providing policymakers with authoritative and balanced information on the vital role that IFCs play in the global economy and thereby counteracting the negative sentiments which were increasingly gaining traction.

One of the major themes which emerged during the conference was the need for much closer cooperation and partnership between the private and public sector in pressing the case with multi-lateral organisations, including the OECD and G20, for small-state IFCs to continue to operate in the global economy.

Nick Kershaw said "The IFC Forum has played a valuable role in communicating the positive contribution that IFCs make to the world's economy. This conference set out to address another vital element which is that IFCs need to work together in getting their message across and influencing policymakers."

Colin Powell, Adviser – International Affairs, Chief Minister's Department, States of Jersey, spoke at the conference on Technical Assistance and Capacity Building: Challenges facing IFCs. His speech looked at the role IFCs can play in helping with standard setting and compliance assessment, and in helping developing countries build up their domestic and international capacity. Colin Powell said, "The conference was very productive in presenting ways that IFCs working together can influence attitudes particularly through their positive and constructive participation in the relevant international initiatives."

Nick Kershaw said "The IFC Forum will continue to press its case that islands such as Jersey represent a major boon to the global economy in allowing international trade, economic growth and prosperity to increase. At the current time of great economic and financial uncertainty, particularly with Europe’s sovereign debt crisis looming ever larger, it is important that the world’s major economies do not penalise us, with measures which reduce market liquidity and investment, killing off any hopes of economic recovery. As the IFC Forum’s conference in London clearly demonstrated, there is a growing consensus emerging across the private and public sector towards greater partnership and cooperation in addressing these issues.”

The conference was attended by over 120 delegates. This included representatives from the private sector as well as a number of small-state IFC governments including Anguilla, The British Virgin Islands, Barbados, Bermuda, Cayman, The Cook Islands, The Bahamas, Grenada, Guernsey, The Isle of Man, Jersey, Samoa, The Seychelles and St Lucia. The conference was organised in partnership with the Commonwealth Secretariat to discuss the themes of developing global regulatory standards, promoting global prosperity through trade and international finance, as well boosting growth, employment and investment returns in the world’s major economies.