The Bahamas Government and the financial services industry have a long history as engaged partners. This partnership has facilitated the development of the industry, providing high-paying employment opportunities for Bahamians and establishing a modern platform for integrating The Bahamas into the global financial system.
Public private partnership continues to be evident in the consultation process that has taken place to arrive at a Vision that is now the guiding force for the industry. The Vision positions the country for the transformation occurring in the industry and gives rise to a certain set of actions required to secure and maintain this status:
***“The Bahamas is a globally competitive international business jurisdiction for private wealth management, international investment into the Americas and emerging markets and residency for High Net Worth Individuals and Families creating high value jobs and business opportunities on a sustainable basis.”***
*“To sustain our leadership in wealth management, The Bahamas must not only serve wealthy clients in every aspect of the asset management and protection business,”* said Sen. the Hon. John Delaney, Attorney General and Min. of Legal Affairs. *“Moreover, The Bahamas must respond to the fast changing dynamics of international wealth management and global business where to be competitive in the future a sustained high quality of investment services and associated expertise is crucial to the nation’s success. This strategy statement provides the right framework.”*
Both Government and the private sector recognize that to ensure this vision is fully understood, attention must be paid to four key components of the Vision.
**To be globally competitive**, The Bahamas must serve the needs of private and corporate entities by providing a superior legal, fiscal, and regulatory foundation. It must also minimize risk, effort, time and cost to our clients, whether they are private wealth managers or regional capital investors.
**To be a leader in wealth management**, The Bahamas must serve wealthy clients in every aspect of the asset management and protection business.
**To attract international investment**, The Bahamas must provide a favourable jurisdiction for locating and servicing of operational subsidiaries and assets of corporate entities wishing to undertake business or make private capital investment in the Americas and emerging markets.
**To facilitate residency for clients** requires accentuating and marketing the quality lifestyle offering of The Bahamas, continuing to streamline immigration procedures and defining and targeting benefits for high net worth individuals through their presence in The Bahamas.
There are ten identified areas of opportunity that can be supported through the Vision and whose potential should be viewed from an integrated perspective.
1. Private Wealth Management
2. International Insurance
3. Fund Management and Administration
4. Private Equity
5. Corporate Headquarters (International Companies with a physical presence)
6. E-commerce/Data Services
7. Arbitration Centre
8. International Maritime Services (Yacht Registry
9. International Aviation Services (Aircraft Registry)
10. Fulfillment Centre (Freeport Air/Sea Port)
*“The country and the industry both stand to benefit from the realization of our Vision,”* said Minister of State of Finance, Min. Zhivargo Laing. The benefits to a holistic approach to growing the various international business sectors include:
* Sustaining and growing existing financial services contribution to the economy.
* Promoting overall economic growth within the country.
* Creating high quality jobs for Bahamians.
* Expanding opportunities for skills development among Bahamians.
* Broadening opportunities for Bahamians to become entrepreneurs in the financial services and international services sectors.
* Further integrating The Bahamas into the global economy while encouraging its expanded modernization.
* Increasing opportunities for charitable and development contributions to further our advancement; and
* Increasing potential revenue for the Government.
Our history, physical resources and location are strengths that will be leveraged to secure the opportunities we have identified.
Historical strengths embrace several factors:
* A ‘store’ of skills and experience that is trusted by the international financial community.
* A “brand position” as a committed partner to international business.
* A sovereign territory with a sound constitution, an efficient basis of common law and an outstanding record of political stability, progress and stewardship.
* A commitment by Government to reinforce the long held view that The Bahamas is an excellent jurisdiction for conducting financial services business; and
* An English speaking culture which aids in integration into the global financial services industry.
Physical resources include the availability of land, office space, support facilities, fit-for-purpose infrastructure and communications.
From a location perspective, the proximity of The Bahamas to the US, Central and South America makes it an enviable position from which to facilitate and support regional capital investment. Furthermore the ease of access, air linkages and the existence of Freeport adds strongly to the advantage of our location that is matched by very few competitive jurisdictions.
Strategic priorities have also been identified and steps are underway to more clearly define the opportunities available to The Bahamas as it pursues its vision statement. The next installment in this series of articles will focus on the approach to identify these opportunities.
Wendy Warren, CEO and Executive Director, Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB) said government and industry are cognizant of the evident challenges ahead, including evolving international standards and an extremely competitive environment *“We recognize nonetheless that change is a reality, not an option,”* said Ms. Warren. *“The Vision we have embraced for financial services in The Bahamas takes into account these challenges.”*