Jersey is well placed to explore new opportunities in the Gulf and China, according to Jersey Finance’s representatives based in those regions.

Speaking at Jersey Finance’s quarterly update earlier this week (29th May), Zhaoan Li, Head of Business Development for Hong Kong and Greater China, and Sean Costello, Head of Business Development for the GCC and India, told finance professionals that there was a real opportunity for Jersey to support the development of the Renminbi (RMB) Chinese currency market and to grow its wealth management services in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. 

Zhaoan Li, who has headed up Jersey Finance’s permanent office in Hong Kong since it was established in 2009, highlighted that the development and internationalisation of the RMB currency and related products presented Jersey with an opportunity to access a significant new market. Jersey’s cross-border expertise, she suggested, could prove attractive for managing RMB bonds and administering funds, whilst Jersey vehicles were ideal for structuring investments in the currency. She said:

“RMB products are being developed in international markets, including London, at a rapid rate, and we believe there is huge potential for the offshore marketplace, whether investments, bonds, funds or deposits. The commitment Jersey has shown to doing business in the region, such as the signing of the DTA in February, is resulting in Chinese investors and institutions demonstrating an increasing level of confidence in Jersey as their preferred European financial centre. If we are quick off the mark, there is a real opportunity here.”

Zhaoan also explained that, whilst Jersey has built excellent relationships in China’s major cities, such as Shanghai and Beijing, there is real merit in focusing increasingly on the country’s quickly developing ‘Tier 2’ cities, including Tianjin, Guangzhou and Hangzhou. Investment from Hong Kong and China in Jersey remains substantial, with nearly £7 billion of banking deposits emanating from the Far East.

In addition, just over a year since the opening of Jersey Finance’s representative office in Abu Dhabi, Sean Costello outlined the potentially significant opportunities for Jersey in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Earlier this year, Jersey signed a DTA with Qatar, following the signing at the end of last year of a Memorandum of Understanding between the Central Bank of the UAE and the Jersey Financial Services Commission, with 13% of all deposits in Jersey emanating from the Middle East. Saudi Arabia remains a largely unexplored market, Sean emphasised the opportunities it could offer Jersey:

“Saudi Arabia boasts one of the highest proportions of ultra high net worths in the world, presenting Jersey with an opportunity to extend the reach of its wealth management services. In addition, Saudi Arabia is serious about quickly developing its own major business and finance centre in Riyadh, which will be extremely impressive. The development will attract financial institutions that we will seek to build relationships with over the coming months. It is a challenging marketplace, but one that we intend to explore thoroughly across the wealth management, corporate and expat banking sectors.”

Geoff Cook, chief executive of Jersey Finance, added:

"Jersey has a tradition of being first on the scene in new and emerging markets. We were one of the first international finance centres to establish a presence in Hong Kong, India and the GCC, and have been successful in building a good reputation in those markets. Now we are looking to evolve our service offering further in both China and Saudi Arabia. First mover advantage is absolutely vital in this highly competitive world and we are fortunate to benefit from the expertise of Zhaoan and Sean as we explore these new opportunities.”

Jersey Finance will be hosting its first conference focusing specifically on the emerging BRIC economies and Jersey’s relationship with them later this year.