Spreading The Jersey Message – A Global Strategy
As part of our series on the Channel Islands, we talked to Allan Wood of Jersey Finance to talk about the big themes he sees unfolding for the organisation and the jurisdiction.
The organisation representing the business and government of Jersey to the outside world is planning to set up a presence in Singapore by the end of 2022. It’s an example of how the European jurisdiction sees the need to spread its message worldwide.
Jersey Finance has feet on the ground in Dubai, the US, Hong Kong, London as well as virtual offices in Shanghai and Mumbai. And Singapore is next on the list, its global head of business development, Allan Wood, told this news service recently.
The connections with Asia – the world’s fastest growing region – are obviously important.
“The connectivity between Jersey and Asia is growing from a financial services perspective and we are looking to build on that over the coming years,” Wood said.
The island knows it has to seek new markets and develop existing ones in a world where there is a premium on stable and experienced offshore jurisdictions. Already, Jersey Finance has had an office in the US for three years, to give one example. (US investors are interested in Jersey as a route into the wider European investments space.) The body recently broadcast the contributions such IFCs make to global “financial supply chains.” The island of Jersey appears determined to sustain the brisk marketing and brand-building momentum that it has developed for more than a decade.
And a big part of the agenda is stressing the “tools” – the structures and entities that are located in Jersey – that can be used by clients from around the world.
“As a jurisdiction we’re constantly reviewing our toolkit and product range to see where we can enhance or innovate. We made some amendments to our Limited Partnership law last year for instance, and that resulted in a sizeable number of migrations of LP structures to Jersey from other locations,” Wood told WealthBriefing.
“The Jersey Financial Services Commission (JFSC) has also introduced a new code of conduct around ESG reporting and disclosure to combat greenwashing – that’s a big area – and we’re looking to enhance our product range specifically for US fund managers later this year too,” Wood continued. “They’re examples of identifying opportunities in the market and reacting to them in innovative ways – all backed up by our commitment to robust regulation and governance. We’re also conscious that too much change can be a bad thing – investors like stability and familiarity, so it’s about achieving that balance.”
Wood argues that Jersey’s position has come so far because it has high regulatory standards, including a willingness to turn away business that is not compliant or suitable.
Taking the initiative
Wood was one of several people interviewed by this publication in seeking to get a closer read on what Jersey needs to do, or keep doing, in order to maintain its offshore edge. (See here for an overview.) Jersey Finance has certainly set standards, winning plaudits from this news service, for example. Under former boss Geoff Cook and now under Joe Moynihan, Jersey Finance isn’t afraid to take the argument to those who decry the role of these “tax havens.” For example, it argues that Jersey makes what is called “tax neutrality” possible – those who use the island pay tax in their own countries and in those they invest in, without complex cross-border tax requirements – and without being taxed twice. If places such as Jersey didn’t exist, then bringing many different investors together would be tough, Jersey’s defenders say.
For example, Jersey Finance recently brought out a report examining the role the island plays in driving global financial “value chains.”
“The Global Value Chains report was pivotal for Jersey in a number of ways. First, no other IFC has undertaken an initiative like this, so it demonstrates in itself the commitment we have as an IFC to clarifying the role we play globally. But it also gives us hugely useful insights into our global reach, reinforcing just how far our global reach extends and quantifying the positive impact we have as an IFC,” Wood said.
“That sort of rich data is invaluable – we had the opportunity to present the findings at a Parliamentary event this summer, and there’s no doubt it landed really well at that, and should be helpful in explaining our position to policy makers in the UK and further afield.”
There may be signs that this message is getting through. Certainly, with so much geopolitical volatility (Brexit, Ukraine, Covid-19, China’s trade arguments with the West, etc), attacks on IFCs such as Jersey appear to have subsided somewhat, at least as far as this publication can judge.