The introduction of a Ministerial Oversight Group for Financial Services – which comprises of the Chief Minister, Deputy Morel, Deputy Gorst and myself – demonstrates the Council of Ministers’ commitment to the financial services industry and recognises the contribution the industry makes to our local economy. My political portfolio also includes acting as an Assistant Minister for Treasury and Resources, enabling me to have a fuller oversight of the role and importance of the sector to the Government of Jersey as well as the Island more widely.
In one of the first actions I took in my position, I represented Government at the launch of Jersey Finance’s presence in Singapore in March 2023. This was an exciting opportunity to increase Jersey’s engagement with the high growth economies in the South East Asia region, through the regional hub of Singapore. There are many similarities between Jersey and Singapore, as both are jurisdictions that have carved out a successful niche as centres of excellence for professional services and increasingly for sustainable finance and fintech.
The Government of Jersey continues to focus on the objective of enhancing our international relationships and this visit was a really positive step in supporting that objective. We will continue work to develop our relationships with other international finance centres who, like us, recognise the importance of global standards. It is only through maintaining that focus that we can keep our economy growing in the short to long term.
The Government’s work in the financial services sector is a truly cross-portfolio effort and is supported by the Island’s international engagement. The Common Policy for External Relations was approved by the Council of Ministers in November 2022 and is led by the Minister for External Relations. It commits the Island to engaging on a bilateral and multilateral basis to develop our reputation as a trusted and responsible international centre for trade in services. The breadth of engagement undertaken by colleagues across the Government of Jersey and by our overseas offices and arm’s length organisations, is vital to protecting our international reputation and meeting our international objectives.
It was very clear from my visit to Singapore, that Jersey taking the time and effort to visit and discuss our international priorities was much appreciated. During that visit, I had productive meetings with various ministries within the Government of Singapore and with the British High Commissioner to relay the longstanding cooperative relationship that Jersey and Singapore have as like-minded jurisdictions. Myself, fellow Ministers and officials across External Relations and other departments, will continue to do this vital advocacy work for our Island around the globe.
The Island’s relationship with the US, anchored in our deep historical ties, is of great importance. As well as our established links to New Jersey to celebrate our shared past and commercial ties to New York as a financial centre, Jersey is cultivating further links in US states of interest. The Government’s attendance at the SelectUSA Conference earlier this year, where all US states and territories were in attendance, was an excellent opportunity to showcase Jersey’s offering and raise understanding of the Island’s status as a Crown Dependency and part of the British family.
In both new and existing markets, the Government recognises the importance of putting in place the treaty architecture that can properly protect and encourage investment flows. The Island has a well-developed network of Double Taxation Agreements across the globe, which help to provide tax certainty for investors and a growing set of Bilateral Investment Treaties which can provide favourable treatment and a safety net of international arbitration in the event of dispute. Jersey’s ability to negotiate these treaties bilaterally reflects the Island’s unique constitutional position and is always done in lockstep with the UK Government.
Sustaining our strong links with the UK remains a priority. Through the Jersey London Office, we are able to engage with UK parliamentarians and governmental departments to ensure that Jersey’s status as a centre which recognises the need for adoption of new global standards is understood. This is against the backdrop of the UK’s programme of Free Trade Agreements and Jersey continues to be ambitious in its desire to be included in these bespoke agreements where this is of benefit to the Island, not just in the trade of physical goods but in services also.
Even though Jersey is not part of the European Union (EU), our relationship with it is still a cornerstone of our European partnerships. Our representation with the EU institutions is carried out by the Channel Islands Brussels Office and is supported by Ministerial visits to Brussels. This important platform allows us to have direct engagement with the European Commission on financial crime, financial services and taxation, upholding and promoting the Island’s adoption of international standards. It also allows us to engage with then Permanent Representatives of member states from across the European Union to promote Jersey’s financial services sector, particularly in respect of sustainable finance.
We also conduct bilateral engagement both through London embassies and in country on issues of importance to Jersey such as national tax lists. The most recent example of this has been, working with UK colleagues when appropriate, to engage with Spain about Jersey’s continuing inclusion on their national tax list.
International cooperation serves as the cornerstone of a robust sanctions regime, facilitating the exchange of information and best practice across jurisdictions. By working hand-in-hand with our international partners we can enhance our ability to identify, investigate and disrupt illicit networks that seek to evade sanctions and undermine the rule of law. To this end, the Government of Jersey remains in lockstep with the UK and international partners in the automatic implementation of UN sanctions and all sanctions against Russia in response to its deplorable actions against Ukraine.
The work on National Risk Assessments, undertaken by our Financial Crime Strategy team, demonstrates that there is a significant amount of business deriving from the UK but also identifies the truly global reach of Jersey’s financial services sectors.
Government’s vision and priorities for the industry for the remainder of 2023 are:
- maintain and develop the four core pillars on which our industry is based – funds, private wealth, capital markets and banking
- enable Jersey to be a leading international finance centre (IFC) for sustainable finance (now green finance)
- harness the opportunities created by fintech and digitalisation.
We will seek to maintain our reputation through the adoption of international standards and a ‘fast-follower’ approach.
The introduction of amendments to the Limited Liability Company (Jersey) Law in early 2023 aimed to attract business from the US by adding a structure which is intended to be attractive to US funds professionals. This will enable access to European markets, using a familiar product, for that part of the world.
The focus on digital solutions continues to be of great importance. A recent consultation on amendments to the Money Laundering Order included clarifying that a digital identification system that complies with the Financial Action Taskforce (FATF) Guidance on Digital Identity published on 6th March 2020, as amended or replaced from time to time, constitutes a reliable and independent source. This will provide greater certainty to industry.
A much needed focus for Government is on ensuring that the industry continues to provide services for people in Jersey and we are taking steps to ensure those services are maintained. A consultation has recently been announced on providing access to information to credit reference agencies, to allow verification of addresses. Over the past five years, there has been a withdrawal of credit card provision in Jersey. The proposal contained within the consultation is a really positive step forward in resolving this issue and should allow more banks and other financial service providers the opportunity to offer credit to individuals and businesses in Jersey.
The Island’s work on combatting financial crime has continued, with the programme of National Risk Assessments now firmly established. Live events for industry are now a regular feature of our outreach programme and are cross-agency occasions that show an ever-increasing amount of dialogue between those agencies and industry.
Together with the work done in preparing for the MONEYVAL visit, it is no exaggeration to say that the industry as a whole is better informed than ever before as to the risks they face. This awareness will continue to drive our ability to mitigate those risks while remaining a globally competitive finance centre.
By industry and Government continuing to work together, we will be best positioned to secure the continued success of our industry and I look forward to maintaining an open dialogue with our clients and partners in Jersey and beyond.