Chief Minister and Minister of Finance, Hubert Hughes, is of the view that the offshore financial industry can derive significant benefits for the Government and people of Anguilla. He made the point, however, that in order to accomplish this, it was necessary for Government to support the initiatives of the private sector Financial Services Association and work in a harmonious relationship with the body.
The Anguilla Government leader made the comments in a keynote address to a Financial Services Strategy Planning Conference at Paradise Cove Hotel on Friday, May 6. The conference, involving financial services personnel in the public and private sectors, was organised mainly by Anguilla Finance Ltd, a company aimed at marketing the island’s financial services, whose Chief Executive Officer is Stephen Garlick.
“I would admonish the industry to be vigilant; to continue to work closely with Government as a partner,” the Chief Minister went on. “Together, we can really, for the first time in our history, create the jobs and the revenue stream as a sustainable industry, but we must work together in order to achieve that end.
“It is accepted that a well-regulated industry can only result in prosperity but one must be mindful …that we can regulate the industry out of existence. There must be a balance and this has been and continues to be the challenge. We must also recognise that there are many countries competing for this business.”
Mr. Hughes hoped that the private sector financial services industry leaders, with whom the Government was working, would be able to produce a marketing budget and an accompanying marketing plan for consideration. “This Government is serious about moving forward with this industry so that it can derive all it can for the people of Anguilla,” he stated. “We will continue to do so even though the portfolio is not truly carried by the Minister of Finance, an anomaly that we must fix through constitutional reform.”
The Chief Minister thanked Anguilla Finance Ltd., the company he said was charged with marketing the Anguilla jurisdiction, for putting on the event and working so hard to move the island’s financial services agenda forward. “This will undoubtedly benefit the Government and people of Anguilla,” he stressed. “The private sector representatives have put their money where their mouths are, as all the costs have been met by their professional services providers in Anguilla. Government must do its part to support them both with legislation and marketing dollars because a lot of service providers are talking about cutting back or closing down. We need to ‘stop the slide and grow the pile’ and the only way to do so is to do what my Government has decided to do and, that is, to work with them and invest with them. In order to make money, we must spend money.”
Mr. Hughes saw offshore financial services as being second to the island’s tourism industry in which all the stakeholders had worked tirelessly together to produce a world leading asset. “The financial services industry must do the same,” he added. “All the stakeholders both here, and globally, must form themselves together, making the best use of best practice,…to achieve a product and a level of service that can surpass all jurisdictions that are household names.”
Mr. Garlick was pleased with the turnout of Government and financial services officials and outlined some of the proposals of his company. He issued a booklet entitled, “Anguilla Finance: Working Together for the Common Good,” in which he stated that his company’s proposal was to be the marketing entity for the island’s financial services community as a whole.
Mr. Garlick listed various steps to be taken to significantly develop the financial services industry. They included looking for new markets; creating unique selling propositions; utilisingall the resources available to British Overseas Territories; creating a user-friendly and manageable website to allow members to post press releases, articles and brochures; working with British and Anguillian Government bodies;reviewing target markets and databases; organising events such as trade shows; speaking and sponsorship opportunities; and working closely with Chambers of Commerce, Embassies and Consulates in Anguilla, the Caribbean and worldwide.
Mr. Garlick noted that there must be a review of the cost effectiveness of all activities in order to move forward. This included a review of itemised expenditure; client satisfaction surveys; a review of closed deals and revenue generation.
President of the Anguilla Financial Services Association, Palmavon Webster, expressed gratitude to the Chief Minister for pledging Government’s support including the funding of part of the marketing programme.
She said all stakeholders had a significant role to play in the interest of Anguilla and its people. According to her, it was not about playing second fiddle to the tourism industry but, like the Cayman Islands, Bermuda and the BVI, Anguilla could equally distinguish itself in the development of its financial services.
Ms. Webster congratulated Anguilla Finance Ltd for taking the lead in marketing the industry. She underscored the Chief Minister’s desire to see the offshore financial services industry developed to a point where it would result in increased employment for Anguillians and financial business for the island’s economy. “What we need to achieve our goals, is to band together,” she added.” We can follow the lead of the tourist industry and do it better. We must not be complacent…I think we have an incredible opportunity to go forward now in a very logical and methodical way.”
Other speakers were Registrar of Commercial Activities, Lanston Connor whose topic was Working together for the Common Good; Paul T. Mason who spoke on The Growing Need for a Real Presence; John J. Koresko who gave an American view on the subject: How to make Anguilla an attractive destination given the current administration’s attitude to offshore financial centres; Martin Evenleigh, Chairman of Altlas Insurance Management whose topic was: Captive Insurance: What clients require from a jurisdiction; and Peter Reichenstein who spoke on Foundations: A legislative process case history.