Instability and volatility have continued to define the global marketplace in which Jersey’s finance industry operates in 2023.
From rising inflation, slow growth, and a hiking of central bank interest rates, to the impact of the conflict in Ukraine and heightened geopolitical instability in the Middle East and elsewhere, the past twelve months have certainly proved to be challenging for international investors and the professionals who support them.
At the same time, though, they have also underlined just how important our key attributes of stability and certainty are as an IFC.
Figures for 2023 have shown that funds business in the island continued to perform well during the year – the total value of fund assets administered in Jersey at the mid-way point through the year, through regulated and Jersey Private Fund structures, stood at over £500bn. That investor capital is coming from all corners of the world and being put to work by global asset managers in diverse and targeted ways. It’s worth noting that there are more than 200 non-EU managers now using Jersey to access critical EU capital.
Banking figures, meanwhile, are resilient with deposits standing at just under £150bn, around a third of which emanates from markets beyond the UK and EU, such as North America, the Middle East and Asia, and Jersey businesses are managing around £1.1trn of global high-quality wealth on behalf of private individuals and families.
We are also seeing sustained high levels of corporate activity, with a healthy stream of company incorporations over the year continuing to reflect Jersey’s appeal as a centre for supporting institutional activity and commercial growth – the backbone of global economic output.
That success has been in the face of considerable macro challenges beyond our own control and is down in no small part to the joined-up work between Jersey Finance and our members as well as our Government and the Jersey Financial Services Commission.
That joined-up approach has undoubtedly helped us to achieve an impressive amount over the past twelve months – not least in terms of our global connectivity, which is a significant differentiator compared to other jurisdictions.
Over 2023, for instance, we continued to evolve our overseas engagement programme through our own channels, delivering more than 180 events both at home as well as in markets from the US and Europe to Africa, the Middle East and Asia, while also working collaboratively with partners such as the World Alliance of International Finance Centres and the UN’s Financial Centres for Sustainability (FC4S).
Significantly, we also evolved our Asia strategy by officially launching our new presence in Singapore, as part of our exciting new approach to the South-East Asia market.
We’ve also made a concerted effort to focus on key strategic areas that underpin our leading position as an IFC. Our work on sustainable finance has continued to accelerate, and we completed our first assessment through the FC4S which will help inform our future direction, ensuring we are aligned with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
Our work to maintain our fintech capabilities has also been vital, including through Demo Days and successful ‘lunch and learn’ sessions, while a collaboration with Digital Jersey saw the launch of a new fintech match-making platform ProMatch, which we anticipate will help considerably in generating joined-up innovative thinking between Jersey’s finance and digital sectors.
Conscious, meanwhile, of the changing nature of working patterns and behaviours – shaped in particular by technology and sustainability – our ‘Future Fit Workforce’ stream has focused both on ensuring that our industry remains an attractive one to work in, and that our existing workforce has access to the skills they need to thrive in a rapidly changing world. It’s a world that is sure to present new exciting opportunities, but that we need to be ready for if we are to continue to attract the best talent.
Finally, keen to ensure Jersey remains at the cutting edge in terms of anti-money laundering and fighting financial crime, we were also pleased to welcome a team from MONEYVAL to Jersey late in the year. We await their findings in 2024.
As we look into 2024, a great deal of our efforts will be on maintaining this momentum. We fully expect that 2024 will continue to pose both economic and geopolitical challenges – there are expected to be, for example, a number of high-profile national elections over the coming months.
We need to be agile as a jurisdiction in this environment, and position Jersey as a resilient, relevant and relationship-focused financial and related professional services centre.
In our most recent survey, more than 80% of global gatekeepers spoke highly of Jersey and Jersey Finance. It’s a good endorsement of where we currently sit in a competitive and complex landscape.
In this highly competitive landscape, however, we need to remain on the front foot, ensuring that we are able to offer an attractive and enabling environment that will appeal to both institutional investors and private capital and speak clearly and capably to their needs.
That means continuing to work closely with firms in Jersey to ensure they are well placed to embrace the opportunities presented by digital technologies, such as tokenisaiton and regtech; it means continuing to evolve Jersey’s proposition as a leader in sustainable finance; it means an acute focus on the evolution of our collective skills set; and it means drawing on our international connectivity like never before.
We cannot afford to be complacent – the world is changing quickly. But if we can continue to innovate at pace in 2024 and demonstrate our resilience as an IFC, we will remain relevant amongst the international investor community, and continue to play a key role at the heart of Jersey’s economy.
Originally published in the Jersey Evening Post.