Hon. Brent Symonette, Minister of Financial Services, Immigration, Trade and Industry recently along with Tanya McCartney, CEO and Executive Director of The Bahamas Financial Services Board , Mr. Michael Paton, Deputy Chairman of the Securities Commission of the Bahamas and past Chairman of BFSB, Mr. Ivan Hooper , Co-Chairman of The Association of International Banks and Trust companies (AIBT) and Indira Munro-Farrington , Marketing Officer at BFSB, travelled to Zurich and Geneva Switzerland as well as to London, England from November 26th – December 2nd, 2018. The purpose of the trip was to meet with executives of a number of the Swiss financial institutions with a presence in the Bahamas and to host a Bahamas Forum in London for service providers and intermediaries in the UK financial services sector.
While in Switzerland one on one meetings were held with officials at UBS Group AG, Credit Suisse Group AG, The Pictet Bank Group, SYZ Bank, Union Bancaire Privee, Gonet Bank & Trust and Safra Bank. The delegation provided updates on The Bahamas' response to the various international initiatives impacting the financial services sector. It was deemed an opportune time to inform Swiss executives of the measures being taken by the Bahamas to address EU, OECD and FATF matters. Further, they were informed as to the various pieces of legislation slated to be passed during the month of December. The meetings were positive, and the Swiss financial institutions shared their strategies for growth in the Bahamas.
Following the visit to Swiss financial institutions, the Bahamas Financial Services Board hosted a forum in London focused on the investment funds and securities industry as well as the overall Bahamas value proposition. The London forum titled "Spotlight on The Bahamas" was held at the Reform Club, London on Thursday November 28th. Delegates attending the event included financial service professionals, advisers and fund managers from all throughout the city of London. Opening remarks were delivered by Minister Symonette who stated that,
"Times are different than when The Bahamas financial services industry started over eighty-fiver years ago. We recognize the need to be innovative in our approach in the dawn of uncertainty to display our strength and commitment as a sustainable International Financial Centre. This is essential for The Bahamas as financial services is integral to the sustainability of our economy."
The forum began with a presentation given by Christina Rolle, Executive Director of the Securities Commission of The Bahamas. She provided an in-depth review of the Investments Funds Bill 2018 and the regulatory environment for investment funds in The Bahamas. She also provided an update on the Bahamas' implementation of the AIFMD licensing regime. This was followed by a roundtable discussion hosted by James Williams, Managing Editor at Hedgeweek. The panel, which consisted of experienced Bahamian legal practitioners: Michael Paton, Head of Corporate & Commercial, Investment Funds, Banking & Securities Group, Lennox Paton, Ryan Pinder, Partner, GTC, Linda Beidler-D'Aguilar, Partner, GSO, Heather L. Thompson Of Counsel, H & J, discussed The Bahamas Value Proposition facilitated a products deep dive outlining the core products and services and explaining the business and operating environment in The Bahamas. Themes discussed included, immigration, fintech, private wealth management, asset management, banking, trust services and the regulatory environment. Tanya McCartney, CEO and Executive Director of BFSB stated:
"In light of the various regulatory changes taking place in the sector, it is important that Bahamian professionals and service providers meet and interact with their international institutions and service providers to inform them of what those changes will be and our strategy for the continued growth and development of the financial services sector. In the absence of direct information there is uncertainty which can have a negative effect if left unchecked. Hence, we met directly with executives of the Swiss Financial institutions and hosted an event in the city of London to convey our commitment to adhering to international standards, provide an update on the products and services being offered in the jurisdiction and to articulate the evolving Bahamas value proposition."
During this visit, Tanya McCartney, CEO & Executive Director of BFSB also paid a courtesy call on to the High Commissioner Greenslade at the Bahamas High Commission London who was also in attendance at the London Forum. His Excellency Ellison Greenslade and his wife welcomed BFSB CEO & Executive Director, during which time they exchanged pleasantries and updates relevant to the Bahamas.