Joe Moynihan, chief executive of Jersey Finance, says that while challenges undoubtedly lie ahead, the Island is well placed to retain its status as a leading international finance centre
JERSEY’S success as an international finance centre has often been credited to its resilience and ability to innovate.
While the global pandemic thankfully has receded into the background, challenges – ranging from the threat of recession and rising inflation to the impact of the conflict in Ukraine and heightened geopolitical instability – have created an increasingly complex environment in which to operate.
Despite such a backdrop, however, those attributes of resilience and innovation have continued to serve us well.
The latest figures for the first quarter of this year underline that. The value of funds business in the Island has grown consistently over the past two decades with assets under management standing now at well over US$600bn. Meanwhile, banking figures are resilient with deposits now standing at almost £153bn, the highest level in ten years, Jersey businesses are managing around £1.1trn of global private wealth and we are seeing sustained high levels of corporate activity.
I hope it is clear throughout the pages of this review that we continue to play a positive and meaningful role on the international stage.
If there is one takeaway from the past year, it is that Jersey is increasingly adopting a global outlook and establishing a distinct presence on that international stage.
Over the past 12 months, we have seen a doubling down on those efforts to authentically drive our aspiration for global connectivity – a concept we believe to be pivotal in differentiating ourselves as an IFC of note.
Consequently, we have continued to evolve and diversify our overseas engagement and events programme through our own channels but also work collaboratively with the Government of Jersey, the Jersey Financial Services Commission and through international networks such as the World Alliance of International Finance Centres and the UN’s Financial Centres for Sustainability.
In 2022, we took our message to new markets, including hosting our first-ever US Roadshow, taking in new cities such as Miami, San Francisco and Chicago, as well as New York where we have had an office for more than three years.
Elsewhere, we also took our proposition to South Africa, with events in Johannesburg and Cape Town, and we visited Kenya as a part of our South Africa Roadshow.
In the Gulf region, we held a number of events including a women in leadership series and a private wealth conference in Dubai, which drew a full crowd.
And, significantly, in Asia, we evolved our strategy by establishing a new presence and business development lead in Singapore, made possible by the support of the Government of Jersey.
We have also sought to get deeper insights into the perceptions of Jersey among global business communities – and the findings of our surveys have been positive, with more than 80% of global gatekeepers speaking highly of Jersey and Jersey Finance.
That’s a good endorsement in a competitive and complex landscape.
Globally focused innovation
Our global mindset has also driven product innovation.
If we take Jersey’s funds sector as an example, innovative structures like the Jersey Private Fund – which has provided a streamlined, go-to product for the international funds community with more than 630 formed since the structure was brought to market some six years ago, holding assets totalling in excess of £60 billion – have helped evolve the Island’s reputation as a jurisdiction of note.
It is always having an eye on where there is a need and how we can fulfil that need which keeps Jersey ahead of the curve. That is why earlier this year we introduced the Jersey Limited Liability Company. The new LLC structure is significantly enhancing Jersey’s proposition as a leading jurisdiction for supporting global, and in particular US, alternative fund managers, offering familiarity and considerable flexibility.
Meanwhile, when it comes to innovation in the technology space, our digital ambition continues to be for Jersey to be recognised as the easiest IFC to do business with remotely in a digital world.
Our recently held Fintech Demo Day, as well as our regular fintech updates and community of interest groups, continue to drive conversations around innovation, while we have also established an important new working relationship with Jersey’s Cyber Emergency Response Team.
Critically, having initially launched a fintech strategy in 2016, we have looked to evolve our approach to add greater flexibility and ensure we can nurture fintech innovation to enhance productivity and improve efficiencies.
Thanks to our forward-thinking approach, digital infrastructure and depth of digital expertise, Jersey is setting out its stall as a world-class centre for fintech, and that will become increasingly important in the years ahead.
Another trend that continues to gather pace is that of environment, social and governance investment.
We are now almost three years on from the launch of our sustainable finance strategy, which sets out our aspiration to be recognised as a leading jurisdiction in this space. A lot has been achieved in that period. We have undertaken a major audit of our sustainable finance capabilities, worked with the government and regulator to create a framework for sustainable finance and supported the ESG upskilling of hundreds of people in industry.
As we continue to focus on establishing the next steps to support the realisation of our sustainable finance aspirations, it is not lost on us just how fortunate we are in Jersey to have some true innovators in this field, who are capable of driving those ambitions for the future.
There’s no doubt that over the past few years we have come through an intensely challenging period as an IFC. And, while the future is unlikely to be plain sailing, I can say with certainty that we will continue to work hard to remain competitive, innovative and globally focused so that we retain our standing as a leading jurisdiction.