By Gonzalo Jalles, CEO, Cayman Finance
The Caribbean Export Development Agency, in partnership with the Government of The Bahamas, recently organised a regional summit with focus on financial services and how the economies in the region can grow that industry with participation from several international bodies, including the FATF and the OECD.
Cayman Finance was invited to represent the private sector in the Cayman Islands.
It was a good opportunity to interact with some of our peers and to compare notes – particularly, in the areas of upcoming regulations and changes that continue to put pressure in the financial industry globally.
The methodology of the FATF peer review was explained in detail and is something to which all should pay close attention to, as it is not only going to generate additional costs that act as a barrier to entry, promoting the expected consolidation in the region, but has the potential to discriminate towards places like Cayman as the methodology is much more subjective than it was in the past.
It is clear the smaller centres in the region perceive the risks and growing costs, and there were clear indications of a desire to work together in order to alleviate some of the growing costs instead of trying to cope with those individually. It is unclear to me though how effective can that cooperation be when on a day-to-day basis we all compete for similar business, and we have made limited progress in cooperating in much simpler way, as, for example, the way we respond to media.
It was also clear access to top-quality human capital is broadly recognized as key for this industry, and several countries showed concrete initiatives towards improving their education systems and aggressively relaxing immigration constrains of qualified professionals.
Cayman, in my opinion, continues to be without doubt the best-positioned centre in the region and the undisputed leader. It is up to each one of us (private practitioners, regulators, and legislators) to ensure we maintain that leadership.