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Financial Services 'Flight To Quality' Favors Jersey

by Amanda Banks,, London

21 May 2013

Jersey's wealth management industry has benefited from the recent "flight to quality" in the financial services realm by investors and advisers, Jersey Finance – the island's financial services promotional agency – told attendees at its London Private Client Conference on May 15, 2013.

More than 200 wealth management professionals working in the City of London attended the conference and were given an update on Jersey’s legislative plans for the trust industry, the increasing diversification of the industry into new markets and regions, and the ways in which Jersey practitioners could work more closely with their colleagues in London to win new business.

Jersey received praised for its active role in promoting information exchange on request from one of the keynote speakers, Monica Bhatia, Head of Global Forum on Transparency and Exchange of Information for Tax Purposes, at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD). She described Jersey as playing an important role in the Global Forum as member of its Steering Group in helping to shape global standards and she hoped Jersey would continue to take the lead in the future as the exchange of information environment evolves.

Other keynote speakers at the event were broadcaster Nick Robinson, who provided a focus on the importance of strong leadership in politics, while highlighting the challenges faced by the financial services industry internationally in winning the support of politicians in the current climate of austerity, and David Harvey, chief executive of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), who spoke about the growing role of philanthropy in wealth management strategies and how this trend had accelerated in recent years.

The Jersey conference tackled the tax avoidance debate head-on in a panel session in which Bhatia participated and in which specialist lawyers and tax professionals from the UK debated whether it was possible to effectively differentiate between routine tax planning and aggressive tax avoidance. Several panelists urged government bodies not to lose sight of the importance of the individual’s right to privacy in the drive for increasing information exchange, nor the threat posed from criminal gangs in obtaining access to sensitive information now that increasing amounts of confidential data were being exchanged.

In a second expert panel session, Jersey and UK practitioners considered the ways in which the industry is diversifying to meet the demands of international clients and how structures and services were evolving. In addition Matthew Slater, a London barrister from 3 Stone Buildings, outlined some proposed changes to the trust law in Jersey which would add to the attractiveness of Jersey as a trust jurisdiction.

Geoff Cook, chief executive of Jersey Finance, who opened the conference, said:

"Jersey has witnessed a flight to quality by investors and advisers in the wake of the financial crisis and calls for more stringent regulation. It has enabled the industry to return to a growth path. The conference discussed the many challenges faced by the wealth management industry but it also highlighted the scale of the opportunities that exist, particularly in the new global markets where wealth creation indicators point to further substantial growth. There are opportunities in terms of the locations where wealth is being generated, in legislative innovation and by tapping into changing lifestyles globally."

TAGS: environment | Finance | tax | investment | business | offshore confidentiality | tax avoidance | law | banking | financial services | international financial centres (IFC) | Jersey | offshore | professionals | banking secrecy | tax planning | standards | regulation | services

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