Synergies Between Bermuda & Channel Islands

November 19, 2015

Bermuda Business Development Agency CEO Ross Webber discussed similarities and synergies between Bermuda and the Channel Islands when he met his Jersey counterpart recently at an overseas trust and private client industry event.

Mr Webber met with Geoff Cook, CEO of Jersey Finance, when both development agency heads attended the Legal Week International Private Client Forum in Cernobbio, Italy.

During the same time period, BDA Business Development Manager Sean Moran attended the STEP Asia conference in Singapore and met with Guernsey Finance CEO Dominic Wheatley.

Mr Webber [left] with Mr Cook at last week’s Legal Week International Private Client Forum in Italy

webber and cook

The high-level Legal Week networking event, themed “The Responsibility of Wealth,” attracted the world’s top private client lawyers advising high-net-worth individuals [HNWI] and family trusts, as well as representatives from leading International Financial Centres [IFCs] such as Bermuda and the Crown dependencies of Guernsey and Jersey.

Bermuda’s respected regulatory reputation, 400-year-old legal system, stable political environment and sophisticated infrastructure have made the jurisdiction a key global centre for trusts and HNWI investments.

Bermuda’s progressive trust laws, particularly Section 47 of the Trustee Act 1975—which provides court powers to authorise a wide range of transactions—were repeatedly highlighted as positioning the Island as an industry leader.

“It was a very informative and useful industry event. I took the opportunity to reach out to some of our IFC counterparts, one of which was Geoff Cook of Jersey Finance,” said Mr Webber, who attended the conference with Craig McIntyre of Conyers Dill & Pearman.

“Jersey is a financial centre which, like Bermuda, is well respected, compliant, and has a good working relationship with the UK,” Mr Webber said. “Geoff and I discussed the numerous similarities between Bermuda and the Channel Islands, especially Jersey, as blue-chip jurisdictions.

“Some of the issues we discussed were reputation—and the challenges of misunderstanding and lack of education about what true international financial centres are, and the value they bring to the rest of the world.”

Mr Webber noted he and Mr Cook agreed there was a need to differentiate top-tier IFCs such as Bermuda and Jersey from other territories lacking their high level of regulation and transparency.

“We have a clear understanding,” he said, “that we need to differentiate between compliant, transparent, cooperative and value-adding IFCs, like Bermuda and Jersey, from many others who actually do earn the label of ‘tax haven.’

“Some of these other centres do not help us by the way they go about business and the business they attract to their jurisdictions.

“It is clear that Bermuda and Jersey are both jurisdictions of substance—jurisdictions that have real people doing real business with mind and management physically located in our respective financial centres,” Mr Webber added.

“These are messages we need to communicate, especially to UK, EU and OECD policymakers. There are differences between offshore jurisdictions; we are not a homogenous bloc. Some of us are in the ‘Champions League’ of IFCs.”

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