“Faces” is a component of the Financial Centre Focus (FCF) initiative coordinated by BFSB and the Professional Industry Association Working Group to profile role models within the financial services sector. It is produced in collaboration with Guardian Business, with profiles appearing in the Monday edition of the Nassau Guardian each week.
NICOLETTE C. GARDINER
INDUSTRY POSITION: Accounting and Finance Manager - Inventages Whealth Management Inc.
EDUCATION & PROFESSIONAL QUALIFICATIONS: Certified Public Accountant, Georgia State Board of Accountancy; Chartered Accountant, Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants; Bachelors of Business Administration (University Scholar) – Acadia University, Canada; Associate Member of the Chartered Institute of Arbitrators, London, England.
What attracted you to the sector?
My interest in the financial sector started in high school when I was first introduced to accounting in my senior year. To further my education, I had the opportunity to attend Acadia University in Nova Scotia, Canada, where I obtained my Bachelors of Business Administration Degree in Accounting. After four years I returned to work with one of the then big eight firms, Price Waterhouse where I qualified as a Certified Public Accountant within the year. After leaving public accounting, I pursued a career in the area of investment and portfolio investment and fund accounting. This path led me to a number of first rate investment firms including SG Hambros in the Bahamas and Hemisphere Management Limited and Aon Insurance in Bermuda.
What does your present job entail?
Currently I am the Accounting/Finance Manager of an International Venture Capital firm, Inventages. My responsibilities are diverse and extend from overseeing the reporting functions of our private equity investments to the day to day management of the financial operations. To accomplish this variety of duties, I work directly with the partners and investment managers of all branches of the company in London, Geneva, Auckland and Nassau on a daily basis.
What keeps you motivated?
The Bahamas is one of the many international financial services jurisdictions competing with other financial capitals of the world - including Cayman, Bermuda, Guernsey and the Channel Islands. My motivation? It is important for me to be a part of the larger team to show that our professionals in The Bahamas can deliver the service expected of us at a level higher and definitely comparable to our competitors. This is important to the financial sector as the government through the Bahamas Financial Services Board and the Ministry of Finance continue to market The Bahamas as a major player in the international financial service industry.
Why do you think you have been successful?
The key to my success was my ability to reinvent my career goals and myself in the changing financial environment. Working hard, over and above what is required, a willingness to learn, trusting in God and the early support of my parents.
What Qualifications do you feel are the most useful in helping you perform in the sector?
An undergraduate degree in Business Administration with a concentration in Accounting or Finance can help persons interested in pursuing a career in the Financial Sector and assist them in attaining professional qualifications in areas such as accounting, trust administration, retail banking and investment banking and insurance. The choices in these areas are limitless, the need is great and the time is now. The necessary foundation required can be achieved here at The College of the Bahamas - along with many other institutions which are currently performing an excellent job in preparing our students for a variety of degrees in the financial area. I suggest that students take advantage of these avenues here at home and pursue further studies abroad if the opportunity presents itself.
Why is it important to encourage our youth to think of careers within financial services?
In these challenging economic times, it is important for The Bahamas to diversify its major industries in order to facilitate more job opportunities for the youth in the country. The Bahamas Financial Services Board has been established by the government to promote the development of the financial services sector. This would create a balance in the country for employment opportunities for our youth and would reduce our reliance on the tourism industry. Also, when companies relocate their financial businesses and firms to The Bahamas, it is vital that we have readily available qualified staff to work in these international companies at a level of professionalism comparable to anywhere in the world.
Are there specific suggestions for sustaining and/or growing the financial sector?
I strongly support the work being performed rigorously by the Bahamas Financial Services Board in promoting the financial services of our country worldwide and I hope that they will be able to continue in this capacity as it is important for our continued sustenance.
More investment by the government in the finance industry, along with partnership with all the relevant stakeholders to achieve our ultimate goals, is important to ensure that there are no conflicts and overlaps in the laws and regulations needed to fast track the opening of legitimate businesses seeking status in The Bahamas – and, of course, measures to ensure ease of business so that they remain here.
There also needs to be more persons promoting The Bahamas at various international conferences so that we have a presence and our jurisdiction is one that will come to the “front of mind” of the offshore investors when they are thinking about setting up their business. Ongoing marketing of The Bahamas in countries in Europe, Eastern Asia and Latin America cannot be understated.