|The Bahamas Investor Magazine
January 4, 2007
January 4, 2007
There’s a Chinese proverb that states: “Make happy those who are near and those who are far will come.” The development of the private banking industry in The Bahamas is not only a result of the solid foundation of financial legislation and regulation but also of the extra care and attention we provide to our clientele. Private banking is more than just a business relationship; it is the development of trust and friendship between the client and his banker or financial advisor. The client always comes first.
In recent years, The Bahamas has seen a surge in the private wealth management area, with the trust business taking a leading role in attracting new investment to the country. We expect this trend to continue as we build upon the services that we provide. Tax-compliant structures are the way of the future, and new products are being introduced with much thought and consideration for the requests of our clients.
However, the environment is changing. Clients are now far more discerning about the risks they wish to take, the types of investments they wish to make and the costs they wish to incur. Initiatives in other parts of the globe can also affect the services provided and are often aimed at challenging or dismantling other offshore jurisdictions.
One such initiative is the European Union (EU) tax on offshore savings, which requires countries to either levy a withholding tax on offshore savings of EU residents or exchange information on their savings with European national authorities. Certain countries have chosen to withhold tax on savings of EU nationals rather than being required to exchange information, while other countries have chosen to exchange information.
The EU has negotiated this directive with several countries, including Switzerland, Luxembourg, Jersey and Guernsey. To date, however, The Bahamas has not signed such a directive and is not subject to the requirements of the regime.
Notwithstanding the challenges faced by IFCs, the fact remains that clients continue to invest offshore for various reasons, whether for succession planning, the need for discretion or simply diversification.
While every jurisdiction aims to provide the investor with something that is unique, The Bahamas’ main strength lies in its ability to offer a comprehensive range of products that can satisfy the needs of diverse investors—from trusts to captive insurance for the private individual, and from investment companies to SMART funds on the corporate front. The Bahamas also boasts a stable regulatory and parliamentary environment, which is an important contributor to investor confidence.
The financial services sector of The Bahamas is a tight-knit community of professionals who are seeking to improve the environment in which we live and conduct business. By working closely together and lending each other support and encouragement, we have established The Bahamas as a leading offshore destination.
Alyson Yule is managing director of Banca del Sempione (Overseas) Ltd, Bahamas, the subsidiary of a private Swiss Bank headquartered in Lugano, Switzerland, and sits on the Board of several of the Sempione group companies. She is also a director of the Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB) and the former chairperson of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) in The Bahamas. Ms Yule is a chartered accountant by profession and is a member of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Scotland as well as a member of the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants.