I’ve spoken before about just how valuable the people are that make up what we refer to collectively as our finance industry.
Together, we are a 14,000-strong workforce specialising in broad and specialist areas of banking, law, governance, accountancy, investment, private wealth, corporate activity and much more.
And for the first time in a long while – perhaps ever – that collective resource, that shared knowledge and that combined drive is set to be tested to the maximum over the coming weeks.
The experts have written and commented widely on the details around the outbreak of COVID-19 and I won’t add to that here, but suffice to say, its impact for every single one of us here in Jersey and every single one of our contacts, colleagues and associates around the world will be significant.
It is our shared responsibility and our obligation as good citizens to work together to see this through and support each other. It’s why as an industry we, together with the Government, Digital Jersey, Jersey Business and the IoD, have been working hard over recent days to introduce measures to try and support those around us in the local community and further afield as best we can.
I’m really pleased that our local banking sector has been on the front foot to offer support to businesses, individuals and families who may be experiencing problems, or who might be expecting to experience problems in the coming weeks, and they are absolutely open to speaking to anyone about how they can help.
And I’m also really pleased that our Government has been working tirelessly to introduce measures to help the local community through this difficult period, including creating a special emergency fund for small local businesses and those who are self-employed, deferring social security and GST payments and rent, and working with our utility companies towards more flexible arrangements.
In particular, the new Jersey Disruption Loan Guarantee Scheme, which is aimed at making lending to local businesses possible through our local banks, backed by a Government of Jersey guarantee, will be absolutely critical in the coming months. The way our banking sector has adapted to this new environment is impressive.
But I think we can do more – we are entirely supportive of the JEP’s Together campaign, which aims to bring the local community together to work through this current challenge. It’s a vision and an attitude we share; our combined resources can help us to provide solutions and support to those people and businesses most in need.
To that end, we have already been speaking to all our Member firms about how they feel they can support our local community and local SMEs over the coming months, and the response has been overwhelming. They are clear – they are ready and willing to do what they can, to lend their expertise and to work with local businesses to help them navigate these tricky circumstances and support Jersey and our local community.
And as an internationally dynamic and resilient international finance centre (IFC), we stand ready to help support global financial flows through these unprecedented circumstances, to help channel capital to where it is needed most in the world.
At the beginning of the year, I blogged about our changing role as an IFC, as a centre that is not just about banking, investment funds, private wealth and capital markets, but more about the sum of all those parts – connecting people and businesses. Back then, just a few months ago, that was written in a very different context, but the reality of what that means is now is hitting home and crystal clear.
We can and we must do what we can to work through this together.
If you want to find out more about what measures are in place to support local businesses, you can do so here, via the Government of Jersey website.