Change is a constant but the actions we have taken to tackle COVID-19 have accelerated many of the changes that were coming to us anyway. Some people may regret these changes and the speed of their adoption, but they cannot be reversed.
Forward-looking, open societies who are seeking to make the most of the opportunities of the future must embrace the world we now inhabit and plan for the way things are now, not for the way they were, or the way we might like them to be.
It is this positive approach which has meant that Jersey’s economy was well-placed to deal with the consequences of the pandemic and it is why we find ourselves in a strong and favourable position heading into 2021. As Jersey’s biggest industry, our financial services businesses have played a key and central role in ensuring this.
Jersey has proved itself to be a strong and resilient international finance centre and a stable and secure jurisdiction in which to do business. As your Minister within Government, I want to thank everyone working in financial services companies for your continued hard work and flexibility, which has ensured that Jersey has retained and enhanced its reputation as a quality place for business and investment during 2020.
Financial services is the bedrock of our economy. Without this industry, which we have developed and nurtured over the past 60 years, Jersey would have faced even greater challenges in 2020.
Businesses adapted seamlessly to the requirement to work from home. The recent investment in our Island’s digital infrastructure enabled the industry to maintain its high-quality services to clients across the world throughout a pandemic when our community – and others across the world – were in a lockdown. Indeed, many sectors continued to see growth during this crisis, which was welcome and encouraging.
I am clear that the future of our economy must be based on our financial services industry. That is the policy and commitment of the Government of Jersey and my determination and ambition as your Minister. Those willing to engage in informed and sensible debate, which Jersey has always been willing to do, will know that the services and expertise provided by jurisdictions including Jersey will be fundamental to our economic and social recovery. We all know about the business, jobs and investment that Jersey supports in the UK, Europe and further afield, as this has been evidenced by independent research.
It is very likely that centres like Jersey will continue to come under scrutiny in the months and years ahead but we have dealt with these challenges before and will do so in the future. Jersey will continue to argue for and adhere to, international standards, we will participate openly in global fora with our partners and we will make sure that our legislative base is modern and competitive.
The Government will continue to work collaboratively with industry and the regulator to promote and defend Jersey’s financial services business across the world. As the Minister, I am convinced that our future success depends on us remaining an open, outward looking Island, with a competitive business environment and a Government that remains supportive but is not overbearing.
We will similarly maintain our support for the wider economy to ensure we emerge from the pandemic as an Island with a broad economic offering – including tourism, hospitality and digital – and one which has excellent connectivity by air and sea. This varied offering is equally crucial to ensuring that Jersey remains an attractive and competitive Island in which to live, work and do business.
In challenging times, it is important that we keep focused and remain optimistic. The performance of Jersey’s financial services industry epitomises this spirit. I look forward to us continuing to work together for the good of Jersey in 2021.