Jersey offers various products and schemes that help employers arrange pensions or savings plans, thereby circumventing liquidity and liability challenges. Increasingly, pension products like the Jersey International Savings Plan (ISP) are also in demand from forward-thinking businesses with global workforces. These companies often want appropriate arrangements to attract top talent through innovative employee benefit schemes.
As Jersey looks to cement its position as a jurisdiction of choice for pension schemes, we look at the success of Jersey ISPs and explore how technology will shape the future of the pension industry.
Jersey introduced the formal recognition of ISPs in early 2019. The legislation was created in response to the Jersey Pensions Association’s vision, working in collaboration with Jersey Finance to develop a Jersey-based solution for global companies that needed flexible savings plans administered in a highly reputable jurisdiction.
Despite being introduced just two and a half years ago, the Jersey ISP is already well-known for being highly flexible and adaptable, regardless of the size of a company or the locations of its workforce.
BEYOND THE GULF: THE GLOBAL APPEAL OF JERSEY ISPs
Jersey ISPs were, in part, introduced to support employers who have significant expatriate workforces across the Gulf region. Countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) identified that traditional end of service gratuity (EOSG) schemes were not always supporting the needs of employers or their highly mobile and more investment-savvy employees.
In particular, the DIFC (Dubai International Financial Centre) has led the charge in the Gulf when it comes to providing an alternative to EOSG schemes, particularly with DEWS (DIFC Employee Workplace Savings), which was introduced in 2020.
Jersey ISPs are not only suitable for use as an alternative to EOSG Schemes in the GCC, they are also ideally suited to meet the needs of international corporations based anywhere in the world.
To this end, Jersey is seeing increasing interest in ISPs from multinational companies who may or may not have a connection to the Gulf region. Generally speaking, firms with disseminated workforces are the institutions most likely to find ISPs particularly advantageous. The gas, oil, and maritime industries are prime examples.
It is worth noting that ISPs are not a ‘pension only’ product. They can also encompass savings schemes and share options, depending on a company’s reward needs and objectives.
Looking forward, as global corporations become more open to remote workforces, we believe there will be continued interest in ISPs from other corners. Remote working is accelerating new recruitment trends and companies are increasingly looking to hire from a worldwide talent pool, rather than limiting themselves to hiring in locations where they have a presence. Highly attractive savings and pension schemes will help attract and retain top talent and standardise a company’s global pension offering – an important consideration for employees.
Because ISPs can be tailored by employers, they are not only designed to facilitate pay-out at the end of employment. Instead, employers can also trigger pay-outs for significant life events, such as redundancy, a health issue, or potentially use for asset protection and succession planning.
JERSEY’S TECH DRIVEN TRUST BASED SOLUTIONS
We cannot talk about ISPs without touching on how the pandemic has shaped the future of the pensions industry.
The pensions industry – like every other – is seeing a huge need for digital transformation. In many ways, the pandemic simply sped up this process. Over the past year, we have seen clients and key players in the pension industry streamline and expedite the ways they carry out their activities, using technology.
For all its benefits, technology can be a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it facilitates communication, making it easier and faster for clients and service providers to stay in contact with one another. On the other hand, differences in how technology is used and the multitude of different systems and platforms in play mean that technology can effectively fracture working processes or leave the door open for miscommunication, delays and risk, let alone cyber fraud.
Adhering to regulations and managing risk must be a consideration when the pensions industry thinks about technology. It goes without saying that there needs to be auditable data trails, confidentiality needs to be duly maintained and important business correspondence needs to be through appropriate channels in line with each party’s contractual obligations.
Doing things by the book does not mean stepping back to the ages of wet signatures or reverting to complex, paper-heavy processes that hinder rather than help get things done.
The winners of digitalisation in the pension space will be the firms that strategically invest into and implement technology, providing clients and intermediaries with tangible and long-term value.
Digitalising and streamlining business is not simply a question of using more technology. I believe that clients and partners are looking to us to use technology more strategically and showcase the results of its use.
Over the past year, I have been involved in work towards the launch of a new digital platform, set to become one of Jersey’s first fully digital, low carbon, trust-based pension solutions. The advantages of digitalising are twofold. First, clients and intermediaries will be able to access a cloud-based portal from anywhere in the world, have instant access to documents, be able to sign and submit documents, including ID verification, faster and have their structures set up more quickly. Second, we can significantly reduce our emissions. We have long been thinking about how we can reduce our carbon footprint, especially in the context of how much post we send and receive in Jersey. By digitalising our processes and removing all paper, we can reduce the carbon footprint of our day-to-day client-based operations to nearly zero.
JERSEY FOR ISPs
As with any product, there are several competing schemes in many jurisdictions for companies to choose from. So why Jersey for an ISP, rather than one of the competing products in another jurisdiction?
In many ways, the answer is surprisingly simple: businesses want to set up structures in jurisdictions where they can carry out their activities with conviction and confidence. The pandemic has reinforced global companies’ desire to opt for first-class jurisdictions that offer access to consummate expertise. A regulatory framework that facilitates this type of structure’s advantages while remaining firmly transparent is also in demand. Here, Jersey is indisputably a front runner.
Amid so much uncertainty – particularly that borne by the pandemic – investors are increasingly unwilling to take risks on where they set up their structures. As a result, they continue to prioritise locations that offer a robust legal infrastructure and a track record of economic and political stability.
Looking forward, we see significant opportunities for Jersey’s pension and international savings industry. We believe that as a jurisdiction, Jersey will remain a top location for international savings plans and demand for Jersey managed international savings and pension-related schemes will only grow in the future.