**Craig (Tony) Gomez
More than 140 financial industry representatives met at the Our Lucaya Resort in Freeport, Grand Bahama January 23-25 on the occasion of the annual **Bahamas Financial Services Retreat**.
Similar to the previous five Retreats, the 2009 Retreat brought together stakeholders to discuss the key issues impacting the sector today with the end objective of formulating relevant strategies for sector growth, while also providing opportunities for networking.
Participants included (13) Government representatives, (7) from regulatory agencies, (8) from professional industry associations and (117) BFSB member firm representatives across all industry sectors. The government delegation was led by the Hon. T. Brent Symonette, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs.
Working Sessions *(see full programme attached)* were structured around the central theme of ***Building Sustainable & Competitive FSI Platforms***, with topics including:
• Geo-Politics & the Bahamian Economy;
• The Role of Confidentiality and No-Direct Taxation in Business Development;
• International Financial Centre (IFC) Initiatives;
• Options for Strategic Responses;
• Driving Competitiveness Through our Judicial & Legal Environment;
• Trade: Does it Deliver Benefits for Financial Services; and
• Business Development Opportunities.
The Retreat Working Sessions concluded with a presentation on **The New Financial Services Paradigm** by Deloitte’s Head of Strategy Development, Vince Colvin. Mr. Colvin drew from his 18 years of financial services strategy and experience in building international financial centres – or improving their competitiveness – to provide the answer to the question *“How do we act, in concert as a nation, to seize the maximum value from our financial services industry, given the emerging competitive and regulatory environment?”*
During the course of the event, industry had the opportunity to hear from the Deputy Prime Minister as well as from the Hon. Zhivargo Laing, Minister of State for Finance, and former Attorney General, The Hon. Alfred Sears, representing the Leader of the Opposition.
Craig Tony Gomez, Chairman, BFSB, says *“In today’s economic environment it is, indeed, gratifying to see the high numbers at this year’s Retreat, with stakeholders not only taking the time away from their businesses at this critical juncture, but undertaking the expense of joining us in Freeport.”* He also notes that the level of participation reinforces the high level of productive dialogue that exists between the private and public sector.
The Grand Bahama Port Authority, Limited and the Freeport Container Port were sponsors of the 2009 Retreat.
BFSB’s CEO Wendy Warren indicates that the organisation’s priority is galvanize the tremendous industry acumen and human resources in the industry to secure the opportunities presented in this environment while taking the necessary steps to mitigate threats. *“We are energized, focused and committed with our hands to the till”*, she says.