Nassau, The Bahamas – Minister of Financial Services Ryan Pinder said that his ministry views The Nassau Conference as an event that promotes continuing investment in education of financial services professionals, as evident in this year being the second consecutive that it is the lead sponsor for the event.
“We also are pleased to, for a second year in a row, to partner with AIBT (the Association of International Banks and Trust Companies in the Bahamas) to advance one of the initiatives I am most proud of, the provision of opportunities in the financial services industry for students at the College of The Bahamas seeking to develop their careers, much like many of you have done,” Minister Pinder said as he addressed the recent event, held at the British Colonial Hilton. His presentation was entitled “The Shift Has Occurred: The New Thinking on Tax and Trade”.
Minister Pinder pointed out that students from the College of The Bahamas were given the opportunity to attend The Nassau Conference 2013 at no cost. Secondly, he noted that his ministry’s partnership with AIBT has allowed for a summer internship programme to be offered to COB students at institutions in the financial services field.
“These real world experiences for future professionals in our industry are invaluable to their professional development,” Minister Pinder said. “AIBT also offers a language immersion programme in Mexico for COB students to advance their opportunities. This partnership between AIBT and my ministry has made a lasting impression on the lives of these young students.”
Minister Pinder noted that the theme for The Nassau Conference 2013 was “The Shift Has Occurred: How are You Positioned?” He added that the theme “perfectly captures the momentum of the day”.
“We at the Ministry of Financial Services have, for some time now, sensed this shift — a shift in the way we do business; a shift in how we position ourselves; a shift in world expectations and a shift in expectations for ourselves,” Minister Pinder said. “We are pleased to be ahead of the curve, in our thinking and in our response to the world — but we have noted the shift nonetheless.”
Minister Pinder said that the development of The Bahamas as a financial centre is a story that makes him proud as a Bahamian.
“It makes me proud as a citizen of a small, sovereign island nation, that our forefathers were able to transform an economy into this vibrant financial centre,” he said. “Our history as a financial centre shows progressive, forward-looking vision, constantly developing based on innovation.
“Our traditional comparative advantages, together with the common law tradition, an attractive legislative and cost structure and an investor friendly business climate, catapulted The Bahamas to a household name as an international financial and business centre.”
Minister Pinder said The Bahamas has seen tremendous benefit, in terms of incomes from that development strategy.
“We saw the development of an upwardly mobile middle class. We saw the quality of life and standards of living breaking away from our Caribbean peers,” he said. “Today, The Bahamas is considered a wealthy economy — a high-income country.”
Minister Pinder cautioned that the “Shift” today, however, requires continued innovative activity in order to maintain and grow our centre.
“Gone are the days of The Bahamas competing against Cayman and Isle of Man,” he said. “The Shift has meant that The Bahamas must now compete against New York and Geneva.”
Minister Pinder said that the “shift” requires for a forward-looking vision that includes change.
He said: “As I said, I think that we have been ahead of the curve. As such over the last decade, industry has been moving with the tide to reposition The Bahamas. However, this government is committed to tackling the changes that are necessary head on, to ensure that our growth trajectory continues to lead to a brighter future.
“This mandate takes vision. It takes action. It takes cooperation between the private sector and the government and it takes leadership to succeed in a shifting world.”
The changes that are occurring in the industry require serious introspection, Minister Pinder said. He noted that clients are not coming to The Bahamas because of what has now become irreverent terminology, words like “secrecy” or “tax minimisation”.
“No, our clients come and continue to come to The Bahamas because of a host of many special assets that we offer as a jurisdiction. I speak of assets such as sovereignty: that is the ability to make our own decisions, in our own best interest within our country,” he said.
“I speak of the fact that we have sensible, flexible regulation and the commitment of the government from the attorney general’s office and the ministry of finance and the regulators, to ensuring that we are top in class with respect to our international standards and commitments,” Minister Pinder continued. “We are committed to regulatory excellence and efficiency. These are important selling points to the clients that invest in our jurisdiction.”
Finally, he said he speaks of the close collaboration between private sector and the government that enables the government to introduce new legislation and create new products to grow the sector.
“I cannot overstate the importance and the value that I place on my interaction with industry. It makes no sense to drive this ship from the top down,” Minister Pinder said. “It is imperative that my ministry is in tune with industry to understand its needs and wants. Our close collaboration with the AIBT is evidence of this.”