Is Guernsey’s Finance sector in trouble?

There has been a lot said this week of the reduction in the Finance sector here in Guernsey, but is this just the musings of the pessimist? I agree that the sector in Guernsey has shed jobs and lost some businesses and clients since 2008, but taking in to account the conditions of the world economy I think it has performed extremely well and remained stable and safe. The reduction of the Finance sector in Guernsey outside of the world economic situation is down to Guernsey Licensees working smarter, information technology and the use of outsourcing for the traditional labour intensive tasks. The human cost that has occurred has been pushed in to the media and it is sometimes difficult to appreciate the benefits that this streamlining has brought to Guernsey and the optimism we can move forward with.

We have a regulatory system that is respected worldwide and a selling point for Guernsey. New licensees have been and continue to be attracted to Guernsey due to the strength of the regulatory framework. The regulatory system is further enhanced by the ability of the industry and individuals to meet with the regulator on formal and informal basis with ease. We live in an environment where the regulator knows licensee’s and officers personally and understands their business allowing few chances for scandals or poor practice to manifest while allowing good practice and development of products to be at the forefront.

The continuing stance of the Guernsey regulator to engage with industry and to allow us to develop practices and products and remediate our business where appropriate, is beneficial in allowing business to grow while reducing the fear factor of enforcement and creating an open and honest environment. This engagement and regulatory framework allows trust to develop and creates an environment where innovation and creativity can flourish. This has allowed Guernsey to develop itself as a centre of knowledge and excellence that is the envy of many other international finance centres.

I believe that Guernsey is ahead of the curve in respect of ensuring our Compliance cultures and Corporate Governance cultures are fit for purpose for the new world order post 2008. This has assisted The Guernsey licensees to continue to provide consistent high standards in corporate behaviour. There is no doubt that this enhancing of the Guernsey culture was painful at first but this has placed Guernsey ahead of our competitors who will undoubtedly have to go through the same pain as we did, but potentially at greater cost to themselves than we had to endure.

Guernsey in some cases can be more expensive to do business in because of the changes that have been adopted, but should we be concerned? We are now in a world where price reductions are common and consumers want more for less, but do they want a reduction of services or client care? We are now in a society where we need to provide progressive and innovative products and services to the client, where client care and service is primarily the focus rather than aggressive products. Clients are out for value for their money and while maybe not the cheapest jurisdiction available, Guernsey licensees have continued to develop and enhance there services and products, but it does cost money. Clients will justify the expense on the value that can be added to their business by locating to Guernsey, yes we need to be concerned but not paranoid of cost.

The sun has set on marketing a jurisdiction solely on its cheapness, aggressive products or clandestine activities and the new dawn has risen on openness, professionalism, innovation, value for money, while upholding compliance standards with international expectations to safe guard our clients and their businesses. The Guernsey finance sector is well place to continue to develop and be a player in the international finance sector and is in great shape now for 2014 and the future.

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