The development of Jersey’s financial services industry over the past six decades is the achievement of generations of Island families and one in which we should take collective pride. Our combined success in developing one of the most respected financial centres, offering world class services to clients across the globe, has seen our community enjoy unprecedented prosperity and created numerous new opportunities for individuals and families in Jersey.
The industry has been made both by people born in Jersey, whose roots stretch back generations and by those who have chosen to make Jersey their home. It has developed from an industry focused mainly on business with the UK and Europe, to one which is now truly global. Indeed, its ability to adapt to changing world circumstances, whether that be meeting client expectations for new products or the requirements of an evolving regulatory environment, is a key reason for the longevity and success of the industry.
In all walks of life, it is necessary to change in order to remain strong and Jersey is fortunate that it has been able to demonstrate such flexibility throughout the history of its economy. This has been epitomised by our financial services industry over the past 60 years, so that the sector has grown to become the bedrock of Jersey’s economy.
Even those members of our community who may feel they have no direct connection with the industry will have benefitted from the improved public services, greater connectivity and wider economic prosperity that is facilitated by the presence of a strong finance industry which contributes 40% of the Island’s GVA. For anyone still in doubt, the past 18 months have demonstrated, in crystal clear terms, the importance of financial services to our Island community.
In facing the greatest economic challenge since the Second World War, the financial services industry has kept driving Jersey’s economy forward. The support provided to other sectors – and to charities – would not have been possible to the same extent without the existence of the finance industry. Similarly, our ability to recover quickly has been greatly aided by an economy which is underpinned by a successful and stable finance industry.
Indeed, Jersey’s long-term well-being, be that economic or social, is fundamentally intertwined with the success of financial services. So long as I remain in political life, those working in the industry will always have a champion in Government.
There is no question that Jersey in general – and the finance industry in particular – face challenges in the years and decades to come. The demand for increased public spending is constant, the prospect of significant national debt for the first time in our history is real and our social challenges – including population, housing, education and the availability of labour – are not going to disappear by being ignored. They will require Government action, support and investment but this cannot be at the wider and ultimately more costly expense of undermining our competitiveness as an economy.
It is in the interest of the finance industry that we address these social challenges – ensuring the future needs of our economy are met. To take just one example, the future of the industry is not served by many of our young people feeling they must leave the Island to achieve the objective of owning their own home. Just as the industry was developed by a combination of people born in Jersey and those who have made the Island their home, so it must continue in the future.
Government must remain an enabler for a prosperous and competitive industry – ensuring the business environment in Jersey is conducive to new ideas, entrepreneurship, creativity, sustainability and growth. I am clear that this approach is key. Concurrently, we must protect the long-term interests of the industry by ensuring we are at the forefront of tackling the risks of financial crime.
Jersey’s financial services industry has always been served well by this approach and it will continue to position us as an international finance centre that serves clients well for the next 60 years.
For my part, I want Jersey to be – and seen to be – both the best regulated international finance centre in the world and one where business can be conducted in a quick, straightforward and customer-focused manner. We must maintain our competitiveness and will always have opportunities to improve. Yet I know that readers of this publication will appreciate that you cannot be competitive without the continued confidence and trust of the wider international community.
We will achieve our objectives for the future together by setting the right overall framework and strategy for the future of the industry. That work has been underway throughout 2021 and following further engagement across the industry, we will publish an updated strategy before the end of 2021.
We have embarked on an ambitious legislative programme this year and much of that has, or will soon, come to fruition. Proposals this year have included the strengthening of our funds regime – a sector of the industry that has seen greatly encouraging growth and development in recent years. We have made amendments to the Proceeds of Crime Law to recognise the proceeds of lawful cannabis activity, where it takes place in jurisdictions with an internationally recognised financial crime prevention framework. We are also consulting on pensions regulation – demonstrating again that our work equally protects and benefits local people who may not feel they have a direct link to the industry. The maintenance of an up-to-date legislative base is, of course, an ongoing project and Government will always be ready to respond to market developments.
Jersey also has an ambitious green finance vision. As a leading international finance centre, managing more than £1 trillion of assets, we are committed to greening the financial ecosystem. Jersey can play a significant role in mobilising global capital to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement on Climate Change and unlock the trillions which will drive the transition to carbon net zero. This work corresponds with Jersey’s wider target of becoming carbon neutral and shows how the industry is central to allowing Jersey to play its part in meeting this most serious of global challenges. There is both commercial and moral value in this work and we are fully committed to acting as a champion of green and sustainable finance.
In closing, I wish to recognise the excellent work undertaken by Jersey Finance in representing the industry within Jersey and across the globe. I greatly value the positive relationship and engagement I enjoy with Jersey Finance, its Board and many Member firms. The ability to maintain open and clear dialogue between industry, government and the regulator, is a key reason for our success over the past 60 years and it must – and will – underpin our work in the future.
I am optimistic for Jersey’s future as an international finance centre. We have the expertise, products and environment that are conducive to success. Working together, we will meet the challenges of the future and continue to serve both our own community and the global economy in which we operate.