Retreat 2008 sessions were structured to provide information on financial services developments in international financial centres, private banking and insurance, trade matters and regulation - all with the view of defining action required by Bahamian industry stakeholders.
Retreat participants also received reports and 2008 action plans from the Ministers with day to day responsibility for Financial Services, the Office of the Attorney General and Legal Affairs (including the Registrar General Department) and Immigration; and, also, perspectives from the Official Opposition.
Wendy Craigg, Governor, Central Bank of The Bahamas reviewed the many developments that have occurred in recent years in shifting to a risk-based regulatory environment - including the continued movement toward enhanced inter-regulatory co-ordination and efficiencies in regulatory reporting requirements. “We are committed to striking the right regulatory balance,” said the Governor, “which on one hand ensures stability, fairness and transparency but at the same time facilitates innovation, diversity and competition.”
Expanding on the regulatory reform that is underway, Rowena Bethel, Legal Advisor, Ministry of Finance reminded participants that reform is a process that requires a phased approach. “It requires coordination at administrative levels, common leadership, physical and legal consolidation and complete integration,” said Ms. Bethel. She also pointed out that The Bahamas is well down the road to reform, citing the consolidation that has already occurred in the reduced number of government entities responsible for regulatory affairs, approval from the private sector to complete insurance regulations and greater meaningful interaction with industry.
Michael Douglas, Business Development Director for Aon Global Insurance Managers, spoke to the use of insurance to “Expand Bahamas Business Offerings.” He noted that current industry plans to re-enter the international insurance and reinsurance markets can leverage the existing HNWI base of this jurisdiction's successful private wealth management core business – i.e. insuring or reinsuring the assets creating the wealth. Importantly, he said, The Bahamas has to develop a “can do” attitude.
Effective messaging and marketing (branding) was stressed by Bruce Weatherill, Global Leader, Wealth Management Practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers, with a particular focus on differentiation – that is, what makes The Bahamas stand out. In looking at key issues for growth and industry positioning, it is essential, Mr. Weatherill said, to strive for rankings of 10 out of 10. Anything less in today’s competitive marketplace will not be good enough.
Ben Arrindell, Country Managing Partner for Ernst & Young Caribbean, provided an overview of recent trends in international financial services (IFS), including an analysis of the impact of tax and trade agreements on international financial centres. He supported a thorough review of The Bahamas’ strategy as an IFC in light of the various developments in the international market, and an assessment of what would be considered critical success factors – ranging from a basic business friendly environment to linkages with key economies.
Also addressing Retreat participants on the implications of international trade agreements for the Bahamas Financial Services sector was Mark Sills, Partner in the Canadian Law Firm of Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, and an International Trade Consultant of the Bahamas Ministry of Finance.
Overall, the quality of the presentations and the industry leadership demonstrated throughout the event was in keeping with what has become the norm for the annual “strategy” sessions -- where BFSB uses a combination of structured work sessions and social activities to maximize interaction and networking. The Bahamas Financial Services Retreats have become an important component in BFSB’s development of both short term and long range planning, while further fostering public private sector partnerships.