**Wendy C. Warren
BFSB CEO & Executive Director**
The annual Bahamas Financial Services Retreat concluded in Marsh Harbour, Abaco, with BFSB’s CEO Wendy Warren indicating that the Board of Directors will examine the reports coming out of the various plenary and small group breakout sessions to refine the organisation’s strategy for 2008 and beyond. *“BFSB will examine the recommendations made by industry participants and respond to the specific requests from the Government,”*said Ms Warren.
Now in its fifth year, the annual event brings together stakeholders to discuss the key drivers of the financial services industry and to formulate strategies for the growth of sector, while also providing opportunities for networking — and this year was no exception. Some 133 individuals attended the working sessions, with 21% representing Government and Regulators; 5% Professional Industry Associations; and 74% member firm representatives across all industry sectors. The government delegation was led by The Rt. Hon. Hubert A. Ingraham.
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 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 Registrar General Department) and Immigration, as well as the Central Bank and perspectives from the Official Opposition. Participants heard reports on the progress that has been made on regulatory and immigration matters.
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 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 said 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 form the private sector to complete insurance regulations and greater meaningful interaction with industry.
Craig Tony Gomez, Chairman, BFSB, said the presentations and feedback from the retreat reinforce its growing importance in maintaining the high level of productive dialogue that exists between the private and public sector.
*“The feedback was tremendous from both the perspective of the presenters as well as audience. I think going forward we understand what the issues are to keep The Bahamas competitive and to grow the sector. I am optimistic that, should the matters discussed be addressed in the way that all stakeholders wish, The Bahamas will remain a very competitive jurisdiction in which to do financial services business,”* Mr. Gomez said.
Bakers Bay Golf and Ocean Club and the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC) were sponsors of the 2008 Retreat.