The creation of Jersey Finance was partly the result of one of the findings of the Edwards Report, a UK government review of the financial regulation of the Crown Dependencies when it was recommended that the regulator should not also have the role of promoter of the industry.
Therefore, the promotion of Jersey’s finance industry became the responsibility of this new body, entitled Jersey Finance, jointly funded by the industry and government. Its first chairman was Geoffrey Grime, who spearheaded its formation and Phil Austin, a senior figure from the finance industry, was recruited as chief executive along with a small marketing and admin team.
The first practical steps to promote the finance industry further afield began initially by a showcase conference in London and then by hosting the first of many overseas visits to the Gulf with senior representatives from government and finance industry Members.
Encouraged by the success of this strategy and bolstered by additional government funding and increased resources, Jersey Finance began to extend its international reach by adding to its range of overseas visits, opening offices in leading jurisdictions and recruiting business development teams to support our message in its key markets.
Alongside the promotional work, it was agreed that the organisation should provide technical input during consultations with the government and the regulator when new laws or regulations were proposed for the industry. By taking on those responsibilities, the foundations for Jersey Finance’s work for the next two decades were firmly in place.
Those early years highlighted the importance of collaboration between the key stakeholders, a method of working that has remained central to the success of the jurisdiction through all that time.
It would be difficult to record all the highlights during 20 years of evolution in the global finance industry but there were some landmark moments along the way.
The launch of the streamlined Expert Fund guide in 2004 to meet the growing demand for alternative funds and the more recently announced enhancements to the regulatory framework through the introduction of Jersey Private Funds in 2017, are fine examples which have helped the funds sector enjoy stellar growth. Meanwhile, regular enhancements to our trust legislation, the introduction of Jersey Foundations which widened our appeal within the private wealth community and the Charities (Jersey) Law, which bolstered Jersey’s reputation for globally focused philanthropy, have made us an ever more attractive destination for private wealth solutions.
None of these measures would have been possible without the collaboration between the government, the regulator and the industry trade bodies and we have to thank representatives from Jersey Finance Member firms for their immense pro-bono contribution when joining the Jersey Finance technical team in consultations and meetings on new laws and regulations.
A milestone event during Geoff Cook’s tenure as Chief Executive was the commissioning of a research project undertaken by Capital Economics and published in July 2013 to demonstrate the value of Jersey’s finance industry to the UK, at a time when there were inaccurate claims circulating from lobby groups that jurisdictions such as Jersey were tax havens attracting funds away from western economies.
The reverse was the case and the 2013 study revealed that Jersey was responsible for £500 billion of inward investment in the UK, which supported around 180,000 jobs. This message resonated well to the extent that the Prime Minister of the day, David Cameron, stated in the House of Commons that he did not think it was fair to refer to Jersey and other Crown Dependencies as tax havens.
A further study showed Jersey’s value across EU markets and Joe Moynihan, our current Chief Executive, continued with an expanding series of evidence-based research in key markets, which helps to highlight Jersey’s positive contribution to global economies.
We play a supportive role with the government and the regulator whenever standard-setting organisations have turned their attention on the Island to assess the quality of our regulatory regime. Two of the most emphatic results was the report in 2016 from MONEYVAL, the Council of Europe’s Committee of Experts on the evaluation of anti-money laundering measures and the financing of terrorism, which underlined Jersey’s ability to combat financial crime through a sophisticated system of capturing ownership information about entities and structures. Most recently, in 2019, the EU Finance Ministers (ECOFIN) confirmed Jersey’s position as a cooperative jurisdiction following an extensive assessment. However, there have been many others, including the IMF in 2002 and 2008 and the Foot review in 2009. All of which have shown Jersey to be among the leaders in compliance with international standards of financial regulation.
The expansion of Jersey Finance’s global footprint has been a consistent theme of the last 20 years with offices opening in London, the Gulf, the Far East and the United States and, most recently, representation in Johannesburg. The opening of these offices has given us the platform required to build relationships and connections with the key influencers and top practitioners in each of these locations as well as being a valuable focal point for Members on overseas visits. Particularly satisfying was the opening of the new office in Dubai, making us the only international finance centre (IFC) to have been granted permission to set up in the Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC), while the opening of an office in New York two years ago was another milestone, in response to the growing amount of funds business originating from US-based asset managers.
Our business development team overseas are involved in large numbers of meetings each year in which they highlight the appeal of our jurisdiction, while building contacts and demonstrating our understanding of the various regions, they host seminars and other events, frequently supported by our marketing team in Jersey.
Conferences and seminars have been a staple of the Jersey Finance offering since the very beginning and they have expanded in range and scope over time. Among finance and legal professionals in London, for example, we have become well-known for hosting popular private wealth and fund events every year, with the numbers attending now frequently surpassing 400 each time.
Strategies have been tweaked and sometimes revised over the years, none more so than in 2013 when a complete strategic review of Jersey’s financial services industry was undertaken in association with McKinsey. The conclusions from that report were designed to sustain the success of the industry for the benefit of the Island’s economy, taking into account trends and developments within financial markets worldwide including the evident growth in new markets in the east and the shifting patterns of wealth accumulation among the worldwide investor community.
Important strategic decisions were taken at that time, in consultation with the government and the measures implemented then have contributed to the fact that 50% of our business now originates from markets outside of Europe. We can also point to winning awards as another highlight for us. Since awards became a feature of our industry sector, Jersey has been extremely successful in winning the top IFC awards from a range of UK and international media publishing groups, a recognition of the industry’s achievements, year on year.
As the representative body of the industry, it has always been important that we set a good example in contributing to the local community. Highlights for us have been the raising of funds for charities, a focus in key anniversary years and the organisation of careers fairs and other local events designed to showcase the broad appeal of working in the industry. A new fixture on the calendar has been the launch of new awards to identify the rising stars of the industry, young professionals destined to be the senior figures of the future.
In 2020 we were awarded Jersey Good Business Charter status for demonstrating a strong and ethical business attitude and we adopted both the Institute of Directors Diversity and Inclusion Charter and the Eco Active Business network. Meanwhile, in support of the industry’s ambitions and awareness of the global surge in investments meeting environmental, social and governance criteria, we launched a 10-year sustainability strategy, a series of initiatives designed to leverage Jersey’s strengths in supporting worldwide growth in sustainable finance.
Finally, no review of the last 20 years can ignore the extraordinary ramifications of COVID-19 which, even as I write this, continues to have a terrible impact on lives and livelihoods around the globe. Our wonderful team adapted quickly to rapid changes in working practices and switched to ‘virtual’ events, including the flagship private wealth conference in December last year which featured an interactive networking experience, praised afterwards by delegates for its innovation.
A 20-year history of Jersey Finance is a celebration not only for us but for all of our stakeholders and partners and especially for our Members who have contributed so much to our success as a representative body since 2001. We look forward with ambition and confidence to the next 20.