In an increasingly competitive and globally-focused business landscape, Jersey’s approach has of course had to evolve and the message now is clear – Jersey is open for business and serious about offering high value-low resource businesses a place where they can come and grow.
A decade ago that might not have been widely understood but the signs are that the perceptions have undoubtedly changed for the better.
For instance, over recent years there has been a noticeable increase in enquiries from businesses wishing to establish a presence in Jersey. In 2017, Locate Jersey – the government’s body with responsibility for inward investment – saw a significant 21% increase in the number of new enquiries received from both businesses and individuals, about moving to Jersey.
Last year alone, 31 businesses were granted a licence to operate in Jersey, whilst 34 high value residents were granted permission to move to the Island. Over 1,600 jobs have been created over the past 10 years by inward investment businesses.
These numbers provide some indication of the fact that executives are increasingly considering Jersey to be a business centre of excellence and a welcoming, sophisticated, friendly jurisdiction where everything is geared up to enable their internationally-focused business to prosper.
However, these figures only tell part of the story. The range of businesses looking at Jersey is changing too and this is helping to create a vibrant, diverse business environment.
Some of the more well-established features of Jersey continue to appeal to businesses and executives, particularly in the financial services sector of course. As well as offering some of the lowest direct tax rates in Europe, for example, they are attracted by Jersey’s infrastructure, regulatory framework, highly experienced network of professional services firms and globally-renowned experts, as well as by the approach of its business-focused, independent government.
In addition though, Jersey’s ongoing efforts to promote diversity across its economy is resulting in sectoral growth in a number of new and different areas that complement the well-regarded financial services sector, including mining, natural resources, tech and eCommerce.
Whilst alternative fund management continues to be a major area of growth for Jersey, for example – with managers increasingly looking to the Island as a solution to mitigate the implications of Brexit and protect their IP – this is enabling growth in a number of ancillary areas, such as fintech, governance and advisory companies.
The mining and natural resources sector has been a particular area of success, as executives have found that Jersey offers exactly the kind of financial expertise – such as access to capital markets and business support – that they need to protect their worldwide assets and help their businesses grow.
As a result, the number of mining and natural resources companies establishing a European headquarters in Jersey has grown considerably over the last five years alone. These firms have operations of real management and executive substance in Jersey and are involved in the cutting-edge exploration, development and processing of minerals in sites ranging from Armenia and the Middle East to Australia and Africa. Growth in this sector has prompted the creation of a complementary advisory and support sector to these firms too.
Meanwhile, within the technology sphere, there is growing interest in Jersey from a broad range of tech firms – both established names and innovative start-ups – as a location to support their ambitions.
There are a number of reasons for this, including the stability and resilience of Jersey’s communications infrastructure and its financial expertise, particularly relevant in relation to the rapidly evolving fintech sphere. In fact, Jersey will be one of the first jurisdictions in the world to have – within the next two years – all residents and businesses connected at gigabit speed through a fibre network.
A number of tech entrepreneurs are also showing interest in Jersey’s new test-bed ‘Sandbox Jersey’ platform to help with product innovation, support their expansion and for research and development. At the same time, fund, company and fiduciary administration services are also being provided by Jersey firms to a number of these tech businesses.
This shift towards an increasingly diverse, open and innovative environment is no accident but has been driven in recent years by a deliberately more sophisticated approach to inward investment.
It is an approach that understands that Jersey’s future success rests on building strong relationships with targeted growth markets around the world and on encouraging high value businesses to our shores.
Over the past few years for example, Locate Jersey has put in place a comprehensive programme of activity to position the Island as an attractive relocation proposition for both businesses and individuals, working in collaboration with local intermediaries and bodies such as Jersey Finance, Digital Jersey and Jersey Business.
Through regular attendance at events in the UK and promotional efforts in key overseas markets, such as Hong Kong, mainland China and Africa, we have adopted a much more proactive approach that is markedly different from the subtler approach a decade ago. It is a strategy that is outward looking, open and transparent, that celebrates how proud we are of what Jersey can offer to successful people and businesses, and which is proving to be hugely positive.
This more sophisticated approach is also reflected in the high value residency strand that complements business inward investment too. In particular, the onboarding process for high value residents is much more efficient now. There is a far greater joined-up effort in managing applications and licenses with, for instance, the population office, through to an aftercare programme for those who move here – something we constantly hear is a real help in introducing new arrivals to useful contacts, helping them to integrate into the local community. It is a real differentiator for Jersey compared to other centres.
The result is that there is a much greater focus today on ensuring that all high value residents contribute actively in some way to Jersey’s economy, so that the demographic of those moving to Jersey today is quite different from a decade ago.
Gone are the days when the perception might have been that Jersey was purely an option for a select group of wealthy retirees. Today, those moving to Jersey are younger with families and are looking for a home that can offer a first-class lifestyle, with good education and health facilities, that simply cannot be found in other cities and business hubs.
That lifestyle proposition is clearly now just as important as the business one, so that whilst Jersey’s business environment and its standing as a leading IFC are vital, an ability to offer a favourable family-orientated lifestyle, with a rich heritage, outstanding natural beauty, world class restaurants and leisure opportunities, as well as an excellent stock of high quality homes and good transport connections to the UK and Europe, is critical in the decision-making process too.
Jersey is very much open for business and we believe passionately in the Island’s ability to provide a solid platform for people here to succeed. With an inward investment capability that is now significantly enhanced in terms of sophistication and reach into international markets, Jersey’s evolving proposition is the envy of other centres and is helping to position the Island strongly for future growth in the years ahead.
Paul Burrows, Inward Investment Manager, Locate Jersey.
Paul has 33 years’ experience of working in the international financial services industry, across the wealth management, private and corporate banking sectors, and as a Chartered Member of the Securities and Investment Institute.
Over the past five years Paul has played a key role at Locate Jersey (the Government of Jersey’s team responsible for inward investment), in building the Island’s reputation as a centre both for companies wishing to establish a physical presence and for the relocation of High Value Residents to Jersey.