Yet it was another crisis, now close to 15 years ago, that sparked a vision and strategy that would help guide and strengthen Jersey’s proposition as a well-respected financial centre and equip us with a resilient industry fit to meet the challenges of today.
At that time, our government and regulator worked alongside industry to make transformative recommendations spanning a whole range of areas including regulation, legislation, infrastructure, skills, reputation and overseas markets to shape the direction of the sector.
Fast forward to today and Jersey has been proven to have been right – the robust regimes, legislation, experience and expertise we established all those years ago is the standard now demanded by investors – greater transparency and a presumption towards substance are a case in point.
Other IFCs, meanwhile, have had to adapt and change quickly – often uneasily – to keep up with the pace of change.
We have innovated our product and service range over the years too. The Jersey Foundation has proven to be a leading vehicle for philanthropic activity alongside Jersey’s long standing trust vehicles and the Jersey Private Fund (six years old this year) which is now considered the go-to vehicle for sophisticated fund structuring.
Recent months have also seen the introduction of Limited Liability Companies (LLCs), which are set to greatly enhance the Island’s proposition amongst global fund managers, particularly in the US market and accelerate our global markets proposition.
However, conscious of the appeal of stability, we have only adapted where we have needed to – our Trust Law, nearly 40 years old, has been amended on just a handful of occasions to ensure that it reflects the context in which it exists, while retaining the clarity and robust nature that has made it the blueprint for a number of other IFCs in the trust space.
In more recent times, our focus has been on setting the pace in the digital and sustainable finance space. Jersey Finance’s sustainable finance strategy, launched in 2021, sets out a framework to help position Jersey as a leading centre for sustainable finance in the markets it serves by 2030. Meanwhile, we work closely with the Government of Jersey and Digital Jersey on newly updated digital skills strategies, an integral part of Jersey’s ambition to be the easiest IFC to do business with remotely, in a digital world.
It is vital that we continue to assert our reputation as a digitally driven, future-focussed jurisdiction, which is why it was fantastic to talk this year to an audience of global regulators, policymakers, decision-makers, founders and investors at the Inclusive Fintech Forum in Kigali, Rwanda, about the crucial role IFCs have in supporting and enabling fintech solutions to benefit global markets.
Opportunities like Jersey Finance’s annual Demo Day, which this year brought together fintech and sustainable finance solutions aimed at delivering smarter strategies to tackle real world problems, are also so important.
Such an offering, when combined with a supportive government and regulator, as well as an active digital industry body and a growing skills base, boosted by an on-Island digital skills academy, positions Jersey strongly – be it as a sandbox for innovation, a neutral hub for bringing different technologies together or as a conduit for new solutions, partnerships and collaborations.
Of course, being a well-regulated, responsible jurisdiction with a commitment to high standards of governance that is focussed on its ability to mobilise capital safely and securely, remains integral to Jersey’s offering.
It is why there is so much importance attached to the assessment of Jersey in 2023 by MONEYVAL: the European body tasked with inspecting whether finance centres meet international anti-money laundering and the financing of terrorism standards.
Against this background, jurisdictions still need to be competitive and finding the sweet spot of proportionate regulation – having a robust framework capable of combatting financial crime without stultifying business – is vital.
Thankfully, Jersey has a long history in finding that balance and as a jurisdiction, we continue to strive to be on the front foot. We have paved the way, for instance, for the introduction of ‘deferred prosecution agreements’ and to make ‘failing to prevent’ financial crime an offence. We have also undertaken comprehensive overseas market risk assessments to underpin our global markets activities.
Further, we have always been swift to implement international standards and initiatives and have been endorsed by major international bodies such as the OECD and IMF for that approach.
We have kept pace with the evolution of public registers and increasing reporting requirements from bodies such as FATCA and the OECD – in some cases leading the way on certain international cooperation and transparency initiatives.
Notably, at the end of last year, the OECD Global Forum reviewed how well 99 jurisdictions had implemented the Common Reporting Standard (CRS) and Jersey was among the few to receive the highest rating possible of ‘on track’ for every aspect reviewed, with the Island exchanging information with the tax authorities of 74 other jurisdictions.
It is clear that compliance and governance are now firmly embedded, not just at a top jurisdictional level but into the fabric of our industry – an integral part of our proposition built on stability and certainty.
It is a winning strategy, with investors increasingly choosing their partner jurisdictions based on such high standards.
Across our approaches to fintech, sustainability, product innovation and governance, at the core of our proposition as an IFC is our people power. Our people are critical in delivering the first-class service we offer and so we will continue to invest in education and training programmes, as well as looking at how we attract and retain leading minds in the finance sector.
For above all, we will not underestimate the value of people. Whilst they can be supported by fintech solutions and deliver strategies, it is the industry’s experienced 13,000 strong workforce and their ability to collaborate in providing a first class service to international investors, that will be critical in driving the reputation of the jurisdiction. Jersey intends to both keep pace with the rapid rate of change going forward, while at the same time nurture an environment that attracts and retains that all-important expert workforce.