Addressing an audience of more than 400 senior private client tax, trust and wealth management professionals at the event, held at 8 Northumberland Avenue on 13 May and entitled ‘Mapping the Future’, Pascal Saint-Amans, Director of the OECD Center for Tax Policy and Administration, highlighted the ”tremendous job Jersey has done contributing to the international tax agenda”. Emphasising the complexities for jurisdictions and firms now there are multiple models in place for information exchange, he added:
“It is important to recognise the role of small jurisdictions in the work we are doing. We aim to deliver a level playing field for all jurisdictions and Jersey was one of the best and first in grabbing this opportunity to shape the agenda.”
Meanwhile, during two panel sessions at the conference, which is now one of the largest dedicated private client conferences in London, panellists referred to the introduction of the OECD’s Common Reporting Standard (CRS), which will come into play in the UK as from 1 January 2016, as a “quantum leap” for firms, suggesting that there is real potential for greater market share for jurisdictions like Jersey that have already made the investment in meeting and exceeding global standards.
In a warning to the wealth management sector, panellists also suggested that although jurisdictions like Jersey had done all they could to provide a framework for effective information exchange, it was now up to firms to make sure they had ability, expertise and technology to make sure this worked in practice and that information was accurate.
In another keynote speech at the conference, Philip Marcovici, former CEO of LawInContext and partner at Baker & McKenzie, called for a greater level of proactivity from all jurisdictions if compliance was not to spiral out of control, whilst he also questioned how the increasing flows of data could be guaranteed to be used securely and appropriately by governments, particularly in emerging markets.
The conference was moderated by Stephanie Flanders, who also gave a talk in which she discussed the current state of the markets and the importance of productivity as the UK attempts to resolve its debt issues, whilst the event concluded with the views of behavioural economist and award-winning FT columnist Tim Harford.
Panellists at the event included Colin Powell CBE (Government of Jersey), Richard Hay (Solicitor, Stikeman Elliott), George Hodgson (Deputy Chief Executive, STEP), Naomi Rive (Chief Trust Officer, Coutts & Co Trustees (Jersey)), Nick Jacob (Partner, Wragge Lawrence Graham & Co), John Riches (Partner, RMW Law), James Campbell (Partner, Bedell Group), and Ian Crosby (Managing Director, Stonehage Financial Service Holdings (Jersey)).
Geoff Cook, CEO, Jersey Finance, who introduced the conference, said:
"What came across strongly at this event was just how well respected Jersey is not just in its ability to meet international standards of information exchange but also to exceed them, and this was reflected quite powerfully in Pascal's very welcome comments. Jersey has invested a significant amount of time and energy into positioning itself right at the cutting edge of information exchange and for that reason the introduction of the CRS shouldn’t be as big a challenge for Jersey firms as it might be for those in other jurisdictions.
“The certainty that can offer the private wealth community will be a real competitive advantage for Jersey as investors increasingly seek centres that can offer high standards and effective asset protection capabilities.”
Pascal Saint-Amans’ comments follow similar endorsement for Jersey from senior EU figures earlier this month. Pierre Moscovici, European Commissioner for Economic and Financial Affairs, praised the Channel Islands’ “active engagement” in combatting tax evasion, fraud and abusive tax avoidance and referred to the Islands as “important partners to the EU”, whilst Jonathan Hill, EU Commissioner with responsibility for financial stability, financial services and capital markets, underlined the importance Jersey places on “good regulatory co-operation”.