The effect of this has meant the financial services industry and the Jersey Financial Services Commission (JFSC) has had to keep pace, respond with agility and speed, plus leverage the benefits of technology solutions to manage this increased complexity and remain competitive.
Mindful of the aforementioned challenges, we published our Strategic Framework 2021 2024 in November 2021. Within it, we included our top strategic priority and three strategic anchors, designed to provide the lens through which we make decisions and achieve our strategic ambition ‘To be a high performing regulator building on the long term success of Jersey’.
1) FACILITATING BUSINESS INTEGRITY
As Jersey’s financial services and AML/CFT regulator, we are unable to influence every legal, tax, reporting or regulatory change our Jersey based businesses face. Indeed some of these requirements are established by other jurisdictions as a result of the global footprint and international client base of our industry.
However, as far as Jersey’s regulatory framework is concerned, we have made the decision to take the necessary steps to help businesses achieve the highest standards through our strategic anchor of Facilitating Business Integrity.
We have started our journey to bring this to life, in our business as usual and in particular, our approach to creating or amending our regulatory regime to ensure it is clear, consistent and unambiguous for all stakeholders.
By providing such clarity, it will also highlight where behaviours or compliance fall short of our expectations (i.e. a lack of business integrity) and there are a range of proportionate consequences for these businesses. The explanatory wording we publish alongside public statements has been enhanced to share with industry the lessons learnt.
Our focus and volume of work for the foreseeable future is on fighting financial crime, yet we have not forgotten the importance of conduct and prudential compliance. Achieving an appropriate balance is important. Moreover, conduct and prudential regulation can greatly enhance AML/CFT regulation and raise overall business standards.
Enhancing and simplifying can work well to facilitate business integrity. This often means setting principles with highlevel requirements, which flex with the level of risk. We now have just one AML/CFT Handbook rather than four and are progressing our work on a ‘Mega Code’ by consolidating the multiple conduct and prudential Codes of Practice. Both the Handbook and the Mega Code will eventually be machinereadable so that regulatory requirements are as clear and accessible as possible. We have also recently consulted on a revised Outsourcing Policy, creating a document which is easier and simpler to apply and use.
We continue to work with the Government of Jersey to simplify what activities are to be caught for AML/CFT supervision by adopting the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) Glossary and separating the existing requirements from conduct and prudential exemptions. It is also important that we continue to consider the relevant changes to national, regional and international regulatory standards. This means monitoring (i) how the UK on-shores its previous EU regime requirements, (ii) EU regulatory changes and (iii) from an international perspective the work of international standard setter bodies such as FATF, IOSCO and Basel.
2) HARNESS TECHNOLOGY
Notwithstanding our efforts to simplify our rules as much as possible, the financial services world is set to remain ever more complex and fast paced.
Against this backdrop, the digitalisation of financial services presents itself as the golden opportunity of our time. Not only will this deliver client service excellence (enabling traditional finance to compete with new digital native products and services) but also reduce the cost of compliance through the use of regulatory technology (or regtech) and, in the case of the JFSC, enhance our supervisory capabilities through the use of supervisory technology (or suptech).
The digitalisation process is often strategic and long-term, requiring businesses – including the JFSC – to build the foundations before the benefits materialise. It will often require the acquisition of specialised skills and effective systems first, before clever data analysis, predictive analytics, robotic process automation (RPA) or artificial intelligence (AI) can be developed. Without a strategic ambition, businesses can often be dissuaded by upfront investment costs that can sometimes act as a barrier for technology adoption, particularly for those businesses that may find themselves in complex or evolving market conditions.
Therefore, within our Strategic Framework we have made a clear commitment to become a key enabler of business digitalisation in order to support Jersey’s financial services industry in dealing with the regulatory complexity and the cost that comes with it.
The pathway to digitalisation is not straightforward and certainly it is not something we can achieve alone. In order to better understand how we could maximise the impact on regtech adoption and to strategically identify barriers in place, we commissioned a report from RT Associates and organised an event with industry to share some of the recommendations as to how we can support the long-term success of Jersey businesses. This report highlighted that we are already on the right path but by accelerating our plans, we would be in a much better position to lead the adoption of regtech on Island. We shared our ambitions and how we plan to achieve them, notably with the investment within our Innovation Team.
Our Innovation Team has for some time been supporting businesses in several ways, inclusive of delivering content, providing a dedicated point of contact at the JFSC, offering drop-in and focused sessions on policy and supervisory changes. By investing in our Innovation Team, we will be in a much better position to support the businesses who need and want to adopt regtech but for the reasons identified in the report, are just not sure how to begin.
In the case of the JFSC, we are currently delivering a number of strategic initiatives looking at our own digitalisation journey. These initiatives include business transformation (which is underpinned by our IT Strategy), enhancements to our risk model, completing the migration of our systems to the cloud and bringing tangible operational improvements such as in relation to our new registry portal.
The result from carrying out these strategic initiatives would further drive the digitalisation journey of JFSC services and our ambition to deliver ‘digital by design’ interactions into the future. The adoption of technology within the JFSC not only serves an internal purpose but also our effectiveness and the quality of our interactions with our industry.
Indeed – and as referenced earlier – the entire financial technology (fintech) market is developing at pace. New market entrants and technology disruptors such as DeFi (Decentralised Finance), VASP (Virtual Assets Service Providers), trading and banking decentralised applications, all bring greater choices for clients but at the same time, there are risks emerging from these new operating models in relation to liquidity needs, operational transparency, cyber risk and corporate governance.
If we are to anticipate any regulatory needs that innovative new market entrants may need in order to manage those emerging risks effectively, it can only be by ensuring we stay ahead of the technological changes and where possible look to harness that same technology. Ultimately, it is all about ensuring we embrace change and accept data as a key enabler on this digital journey.
3) HIGH PERFORMING ORGANISATION
We always say the JFSC is a people’s business and rightly so. None of the aforementioned ambitions could be delivered without becoming a high performing organisation. Our focus in the development of our systems, capabilities and particularly our people, is what currently supports our ambition to being a high performing organisation.
This has led us to driving forward a number of initiatives. For example, we have focused on the increase in our operational effectiveness and measured the time and cost our operational improvement bring to the JFSC and industry. Equally, we believe high performance for us means being a ‘listening regulator’. Therefore, we have also focused on the development of industry engagement and outreach initiatives by leveraging on the connections we have with our regulated community, trade associations and public bodies or through the use of quantitative and qualitative industry surveys.
Lastly, we are also ensuring we continuously develop our people and are able to build the skills we need for the future by embedding a growth mind set across the organisation and by providing staff the support and tools they need to enhance their careers, so that working for the JFSC is not just a job but an experience.