Jersey needs to make its case to the world

One recurring theme from the Jersey Finance Private Wealth Conference was the need for Jersey to focus attention on quality – quality of its professionals, quality of its businesses and quality of its regulation.

This is necessary, according to many of the experts speaking at the event, which was part-sponsored by Moore Stephens, because internationally there is still a drive to group all international finance centres into the same box, and to criticise them as unhelpful to the international economy.

As Jason Sharman, professor of international relations at the University of Cambridge, pointed out, to many people anywhere with palm trees as an international finance centre, and anywhere that international money was transferred through must be an island. Preconceptions are deep rooted and if Jersey is to continue to keep a place in the international finance system it must challenge them.

Sharman highlighted in particular the change in approach to the proceeds of corruption. In the past, even just 20 years ago, the automatic exchange of information was not seen as necessary. Now it is a prerequisite of international finance and Jersey is one of the leading proponents of information exchange. Jersey has also helped lead the way on anti-money laundering, with the landmark Abacha case demonstrating that businesses and jurisdictions were becoming more aware, and more concerned, with where the money came from than ever before.

But, he also acknowledged that this was not universal. “We have a lot of rules and regulations, but are they doing any good? There is variation of commitment, some governments are keen, but others are just going through the motions.”

It is important for Jersey to remain on the right side of history. In the long term, being seen as a responsible, well-regulated jurisdiction will bring in more business, and the right kind of business for the island. That is why it is important that Jersey continues to lead the way on international regulatory compliance and standards.