That was the key message to emerge from Jersey Finance’s latest visit to the African continent in February, when Director of Business Development Allan Wood led a delegation of Jersey practitioners to Lagos, Nigeria for a number of key stakeholder meetings and to host a private wealth-focussed seminar.

Entitled ‘Jersey: a valuable partnership’, the half day event was attended by more than 130 private wealth lawyers, advisers and other Nigeria-based finance professionals, who heard that Jersey has the right expertise and regulatory framework to support high quality cross-border wealth strategies and act as a valuable investment gateway to the UK and wider Europe.

Commenting on the visit, Allan Wood, who provided an introduction at the seminar, said: “Since the publication of Jersey’s Strategic Jurisdictional Review in 2013, Jersey Finance has continued to highlight the jurisdiction’s mutually beneficial role in supporting investment into and out of Africa, in particular through our 2014 ‘Jersey’s Value to Africa’ report, which sets out Jersey’s strong links with the continent.

“Nigeria has specifically been identified as priority market for Jersey’s finance industry. The country has a good track record of internationalising wealth and a very positive outlook for economic growth, whilst it also has relatively modest barriers to capital movement and a certain need for inbound international capital. All this combined means that there are some excellent opportunities for expert, high quality IFCs and, with a number of local firms now firmly embedded in the market, Jersey is at the very forefront to provide the solutions needed.”

Further highlighting the scale of growth in Nigeria, guest speaker at the event Dr Andrew S Nevin PhD, Chief Economist, PwC Nigeria, commented: “Between now and 2050, over half of global population growth will occur in Africa so that there will be 2.4 billion Africans in 2050, more than three times Europe’s population. Nigeria’s population alone is estimated to be around 400 million in 2050, equivalent to around 56% of Europe’s population, making it the third most populous country in the world.”

Looking forward to future opportunities in Nigeria and the continent more widely, Allan pointed to the fact that 15 Jersey Finance member firms have a presence in either, or all of, South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria, with a growing number developing relationships through fly-in models to explore new opportunities. He added:

“Jersey firms have been operating in the private wealth space in Africa for a number of years and the feeling now is that we are well placed as a jurisdiction to diversify our support for internationally dynamic African families. In fact, a number of commercial opportunities we know were generated directly off the back of this visit.

“We continue to see, for instance, strong growth in cross border business with African investors in the traditional trust structuring space. Particularly with UHNW families in Nigeria becoming increasingly global in terms of their residence and wealth, discussions during our seminar highlighted the persistent strong appeal of Jersey private trust companies for family wealth planning.

“Meanwhile, thanks to recent enhancements to Jersey’s charities law and the reputation of our trust, foundation and company structures, we are now seeing growing interest in how Jersey can support international philanthropic initiatives. Firms are also reporting more activity in the alternative fund space, with African High Net Worth’s choosing Jersey as a stable jurisdiction from which to manage their global investments.”

The ‘Jersey: a valuable partnership’ seminar featured guest speakers Dr Andrew S Nevin, Chief Economist, PwC Nigeria; Esiri Agbeyi, Partner –Tax and Regulatory Services, PwC Nigeria; Paul Glennon, Principal, GlenQ Private Wealth and Family Office; Rachel Bentley, Director, PwC; Jason Stolte, Investment Manager, Quilter Cheviot; Mark Pihlens, Managing Partner (Operations), Henley & Partners UK; Elizabeth Henson, Tax Partner, PwC; and Dean Douglas, Client Services Director, First Names Group.