Jersey’s innovation is driving growth

Seeking an informed perspective is critical to Jersey’s success as an international finance centre, delegates to the Jersey Finance Funds Conference were told. Jonathan Pugh-Smith, legal counsel for Bregal Investments was speaking as part of a panel and stressed that the island needed to focus on internal matters, but not ‘bury its head in the sand’.
 
His point was to ensure that, while the island needs to be aware of global political activity and trends, it cannot control them. Instead we should be (and in many cases are) focusing on things we can control, like Jersey’s legislation, our reputation and the quality of our workforce.
 
In that respect it is very much business-as-usual for Jersey, as James Duffield of Aztec Group agreed: “Jersey needs to take a long-term view and not react to each and every thing that results from Brexit. Chances are the best approach is to keep doing what you have always done as that is what works.”
 
Continuing to focus on ‘tried and trusted’’ solutions is positive. Pugh-Smith noted that heads have been turned to Luxembourg as a result of Brexit, but that Jersey, despite not being in the EU, has a competitive offer, not least on cost.
 
Jane Pearce, managing director at Vistra held that current trends were positive for Jersey. “Jersey is a top tier jurisdiction,” she said. “We are seeing global trends for wealth and funds moving to top tier jurisdictions so the future for Jersey is bright.”
 
That was certainly the view of Jonathan Bullock, COO of Softbank, part of the team that brought the Vision Fund to Jersey. “Jersey has a very strong offering, everything we wanted to check you had an answer for,” he said.
 
Rob Milner, a partner at Carey Olsen, highlighted the three key elements of Jersey’s offering as:
 
  • Speed – legislation allows for fund professionals to move fast and for funds to be investment ready in a very short time frame.
  • Stability – there is a firm bedrock of infrastructure, and of skilled practitioners so Jersey has the ability to make the structure work.
  • Flexibility – with changes to the Jersey Private Funds regime about the launch Jersey is offering funds even more flexibility at launch 
 
 
Jersey is engaging effectively with changing political spectrum
 
The changing political landscape of Europe, and indeed the rest of the world, is an ongoing concern for Jersey’s finance sector. That said, there is conviction among leading practitioners that the island is dealing with these changes positively and creating opportunity for the island’s finance businesses.
 
A panel of experts discussed Jersey’s responses to Brexit and other issues at the recent Jersey Finance Funds Conference. Deborah Lloyd, chairman of the Association of Real Estate Funds noted that Brexit was a big challenge for the real estate sector, in particular any suggestion of a change to the freedom of movement of workers. This affects the whole sector, from construction workers right up to CEOs.
 
Two major challenges are also facing Jersey – will there still be the ability to bring people in from the rest of the world, and will funds be able to be marketing in the EU?
 
In many ways, the panel agreed, if the status quo remains in place for Jersey’s relationship with the EU, this would be a positive benefit for the island, as it would be able to continue growth on the same footing.
 
Will Jersey have the same access to the EU post-Brexit? There will be some challenges including the fact that Jersey may be ‘tainted’ by its close connections to the UK and London. In reality Jersey is connected very closely to London, described by the panel as an ‘outboard motor’ pushing the London universe along.
 
But, when the EU looks at Jersey, for matters of access and 3rd country status for example, will it now also look at what any decision means for its relationship with the UK? This will complicate matters.
 
But there are still plus points for Jersey in the eyes of the international finance community. The UK might now be considered a competitor, but it will still suffer by comparison to Jersey in several key areas. The UK undergoes governmental change potentially every four years, meaning that legislation has a stop start nature, in contrast to Jersey’s very stable political environment and flexible legislative infrastructure.