Industry News

Bahamas Financial Services: Vision for the Way Forward

Monday February 6th, 2012

Category: Industry Information, BFSB News

The Bahamas, while only 40 years old as an independent country, is rich in history with the oldest democracy and one of the longest established international financial services sector in the region.

In the world of international business and finance, The Bahamas’ commitment, continuity and consistency provide a firm foundation on which business and clients can rely.

The advantages of doing business in The Bahamas are clear:

• Our history as a trusted partner for the international business community and families worldwide, due in large part to the outstanding record of political stability, progress and stewardship, status as an independent territory providing an efficient basis of common law, and the longstanding commitment and continuity of its people and government to the industry and their clients.

• Our ideal location at the cross roads of the Americas in a time zone that is convenient for most of the major centres in the Americas. Our physical resources of land, premises and fit‐for‐purpose infrastructure all located in one of the most idyllic settings in the world.

The Bahamas continues to focus on being a high quality destination for owners of capital. In the midst of one of the most tumultuous times in the finance industry, the government and private sector jointly refined their shared vision for the way forward: “To be a globally competitive international business centre for private wealth management, capital investment in the Americas and emerging markets, and residency”. This vision brings to bear the unique strengths of The Bahamas.

A Wealth Management Centre

The Bahamas’ strength is rooted in its long history in providing financial services since the 1930s, and has been reinforced by the jurisdiction’s ongoing commitment to maintaining and growing its presence as a provider of high quality financial services. This historic involvement has created a jurisdiction that can easily be defined as established, progressive and welcoming for financial services and residency.

Established and Progressive

Its established role and expertise in private banking and trust services also has given birth to a comprehensive and compelling array of financial services that includes private banking, estate planning, asset management and fund administration services. The Bahamas also provides services to the international capital markets, and to the insurance and maritime industries. Corporate registry and legal and accounting services are at the core of the multitude of services available in The Bahamas.

The integrity and continuity offered by institutions located in The Bahamas provide a secure environment. With personnel committed to the local community, continuity of service is more predictable and stable in The Bahamas, and is the basis of its many longstanding institutional and client relationships. The Bahamas’ long tenure in financial services also has created a growing storehouse of skills and experience that is trusted by the international financial community.

The jurisdiction also continues to demonstrate foresight through responsive, progressive developments to meet the requirements of an increasingly sophisticated financial services marketplace.

Welcoming

The Bahamas is not only home to more than 250 banks and trust companies, which enjoy long standing relationships with clients from around the world. In recent years, as more and more individuals have chosen to ‘follow their money’ with respect to where they live and work, The Bahamas also has become the preferred choice for many who have adopted this way of life.

With a streamlined application process for Economic Permanent Residency (EPR), the ability for individuals to work and live in The Bahamas has become even easier and more attractive. A predictable and user-friendly EPR application process, combined with the country’s physical resources and infrastructure, enhances The Bahamas’ environment as a location for individuals and family offices, as well as for more institutions to consider the establishment of subsidiary operations in the country.

A Hub for Capital Investment

The Bahamas is a safe, well-regarded portal for global investment, particularly into the Americas. It is also a favourable location for corporate offices, ownership of intangible assets, the establishment of finance related businesses and light industrial activity.

The Government is committed to building an economic environment in which free enterprise can flourish. In this regard, the National Investment Policy is designed to support an investment friendly climate and guarantees the complementary nature of Bahamian and overseas investments.

The Bahamas is ideally located at the crossroads of the Americas. It is in the same time zone as New York with enviable proximity to the US, and Central and South America. Its physical resources are conducive to conducting international business both efficiently and effectively. These include:

• Information communications technology - three separate, fully redundant, self-healing fibre optic cables for global connectivity.

• Modern office facilities.

• Data protection legislation at the OECD Standard.

• Business continuity options.

• Cost competitiveness.

• Six major airports including the YVR managed Lynden O. Pindling InternationalAirport in Nassau and Freeport International Airport. (Overall there are more than 60 airports throughout the islands of The Bahamas)

• Ease of access, air linkages and Freeport’s transshipment and free trade zone status are functional attributes that very few regional competitor jurisdictions can match.

• Available land throughout The Bahamas, including more than 10,000 acres earmarked for industrial and commercial development in Grand Bahama.

Investment incentives under a number of Acts include exemption from the payment of customs duties on building materials, equipment and approved raw materials and real property taxes for periods up to twenty years. Investors may acquire publicly owned lands for approved developments on concessionary terms; and acquire low cost space for lease for industrial enterprises. Government will provide special training and retraining for Bahamian workers to ensure the continuing availability of a highly skilled labour force.