Tuesday, May 13, 2014
Tuesday, May 13, 2014
To safeguard its future, the Bahamian financial services industry must learn key lessons from its prosperous past, according to Sean McWeeney, senior partner with law firm Graham Thompson, who spoke today at the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) Caribbean Conference.
Despite burdensome regulation and greater demands for transparency from global regulators, McWeeney urged the financial community not to be “dismayed or discouraged,” saying: “Opportunities still abound. The industry went through a period of shrinkage, but it was not such a bad thing after all, because it did bring about a cleansing.”
Contrasting today’s more uncertain environment, with The Bahamas’ past boom-time era, McWeeney said savvy financiers could employ the same strategies that served the country well then, such as a more proactive approach in seeking out clients and focusing on a “high quality, lower numbers paradigm.”
“You cannot wait for the business to come to you,” he told conference delegates. “You have to go in search of it beyond your borders. You need to know where to look for it, know your geography.”
“The future lies not in quantity, but in quality of clientele.”
He also called for the removal of “immigration bureaucracy”–particularly for high-net-worth individuals who wish to take up residency in the country.
McWeeney indicated that he was optimistic about the sector’s future and said it should build on its past success in creating new, innovative products, such as SMART Funds and the Bahamas Executive Entity.
“We have a good track record. We need to build upon this even more rigorously [to address] the needs of the markets we serve. Our products have to be cutting edge.”
In conclusion, the former attorney general said that The Bahamas must market itself as a jurisdiction, rather than product by product.
“We must sell the jurisdiction, not just the products the jurisdiction has to offer,” he said. “It enables us to transcend our rivalries to find a common ground to promote our collective strengths.”
The STEP Caribbean Conference runs 12-14 May at Atlantis Paradise Island. Additional speakers on the agenda include Prime Minister Perry Christie and Minister of Financial Services Ryan Pinder.