Industry leaders, financial regulators and experts in emerging markets shared the conference platform recently to discuss the growth and opportunities for further new business in the economic centres of Brazil, Russia, India and China (BRICs).

The event entitled ‘Discovering New Markets Bric by Bric’, was designed to showcase the potential new business in these different regions of the world, while also exploring the regulatory issues that would have to be tackled effectively.

More than 150 delegates attended the one day conference at the Hotel de France, which was co-hosted by Jersey Finance Limited and the Jersey Financial Services Commission.
Feedback since from those who attended the event has been extremely positive with an overwhelming acknowledgement that these markets will be the future for Jersey’s prosperity from financial services.

The conference concluded that long term success in these markets would only be achieved by greater alignment between the financial services industry, the regulator and the Government, a means by which Jersey could differentiate itself in an increasingly competitive global market.

The conference included a keynote address from the States of Jersey’s Chief Minister Senator Ian Gorst who told delegates: ‘Jersey’s reputation as a jurisdiction of excellence in financial services and regulation sustained its internationally competitive proposition and we in Government are determined to support efforts to diversify into new regions of the world.’

Whilst affirming that the traditional, mature markets of London and Europe, would remain Jersey’s number one target, Jersey Finance Chief Executive, Geoff Cook outlined why it was important that Jersey should market its financial services increasingly in the powerful economies of the East.

He pointed to the success to date in the Gulf region which has seen bank deposits from that area increase from just over £10 billion in March 2007 to more than £20 billion in March this year and to Jersey’s growing presence in India and the Far East where offices have already been opened. He said that it was proposed that this strategy would continue and with further emphasis on other locations particularly Brazil and Russia.

Among a host of facts and figures that illustrated the growing influence of these new markets on global finance, he highlighted forecasts that the BRICs could account for almost 50% of global equity markets by 2050 and the BRICs could become as big as the G7 nations by 2032.

Describing the conference as a seminal event, the Director General of the Jersey Financial Services Commission, John Harris, spoke of the need for a joined up approach to one of the main opportunities and challenges for the future of financial services in Jersey – doing business with the BRIC countries.

‘The Commission recognises that doing business in and with BRIC jurisdictions is necessary and indeed essential for the future of the industry here. At the same time we need to discuss the case for good risk management in new markets,’ he told delegates.

In addition to a series of panel debates about each region which included representatives from Jersey’s finance industry with knowledge of those markets, a series of leading experts on each region were invited to Jersey to speak at the event and to share their thoughts in the question and answer sessions that followed. The guest speakers were Professor Roy Rohatgi, Director of the leading conference on international taxation held in Mumbai each year; Colin Johnson accountant at Grant Thornton who leads CityUK’s Brazil Group; Olga Boltenko, Zurich based Partner at Withers and specialist in Russian tax matters; Hugh Davies, Chairman of the China Association and member of the board of the China Britain Business Council; Stuart Lawson, Executive Director and Senior Advisor, Ernst & Young, Russia and CIS, along with panel moderator Anthony Hilton, City Editor, Evening Standard in London.

Geoff Cook added:

‘This was an important event which brought together a number of specialists with unique insights into the BRIC economies. We heard too from Government, the regulator and from local specialists working in these regions and we had a range of questions from the floor asking us how we intended to take our international promotion to the next stage and what were the pitfalls that needed to be overcome.

The skills of our workforce, the reputation of our jurisdiction and our experience and track record as an internationally recognised finance centre, have all combined to assist us in building business in some of these key emerging markets already and the content of the conference today identified many ways in which we can build on that success with the support of Government and the regulatory authorities.’