Despite pressure from global regulatory bodies, Minister of Financial Services, Trade and Industry and Immigration Brent Symonette said yesterday that international financial centers (IFC) like The Bahamas will continue to thrive in the area of global wealth management.
Symonette, who was speaking at the opening of the STEP Caribbean Conference, said high-net-worth individuals will continue to see tax compliance and succession planning professionals in financial jurisdictions like The Bahamas.
“Despite the current geopolitical climate, the world’s population is growing,” he said. “With that growth, the number of ultra-high-net-worth individuals who demand the services of international financial centers has also increased.
“Many of the leading IFCs have identified this phenomenon and through international co-operation and the adoption of best international practice, are seeking to build environments that will encourage and support the innovators and disruptors of the next generation.”
According to Symonette, as this country looks towards revolutionizing the financial services industry to meet the needs of the future through technology, IFCs like The Bahamas will have to put the necessary policies in place to make the environment easy to do business in.
“Governments must ensure that policies are implemented to facilitate innovative transitions, the introduction of technological advancement, new products, better service and greater efficiencies in how we conduct business,” said Symonette.
“Innovation, especially in the area of financial technology, or fintech, is a cross-border activity, it has grown quickly and is being set up in places conducive to its ability to thrive.
“In this space, new types of financial products based on artificial intelligence, blockchain and cloud technology have emerged to enable innovative forms of financial transactions that transcend space and time.
“This means that industry participants must be trained to embrace and understand these changes, and that proper support and the provision of services for businesses to be able to properly operate in this new space is crucial.”
Symonette said the financial services sector will also need to have asset and jurisdictional diversification and must continue to meet global regulatory standards while adapting to the changing roles of IFCs.
“The Bahamas has shown its commitment to complying with international regulatory standards, with the most recent implementation of Common Reporting Standards, our commitment to the Base Erosion and Profit Shifting minimum standards, the ongoing European Union initiatives and Financial Action Task Force recommendations,” he said.
“I believe we are in a good position to use the shifting landscape of global regulatory standards to attract more business to The Bahamas, shifting the challenges to opportunities.”
Education: Florida International University, BS in Journalism