Sir William Allen
Minister of Finance

The events of September 11 and their consequences are very unlikely to leave financial services unaffected. Already, there are indications of a likely adjustment in the trade off between individual privacy and collective security. The balance is always a delicate one, and it was already under scrutiny. It may well be that in financial services, one consequence of the new scrutiny arising from this most recent outrage will be greater convergence in regulatory supervision among financial centers. Rogue centers are likely to become extinct and those seeking to gain advantage from trading on an inappropriate loophole may also find the going much rougher.

It seems clear to me that in addition to whatever other characteristics now remain in respectable offshore centers, there must be included in the mix an exceptional quality of service, and this applies equally to the financial industry as to the public sector which supports it.

Of September 11, it can truly be said that no single event in modern history can so clearly be identified as a watershed of historic change. Because this impact is likely to be so pervasive, it is likely that financial services will also come under its influences. It is unlikely, however, that the demand for financial services will in any way be diminished. The contrary is more likely to be true. But, we may have to continually redefine ourselves.

The financial services sector is rightly to be seen as one of the most dynamic sectors of commercial activity. And understandably so, because all other commercial activities have some expression in the financial sector, and it is a sector which is trading heavily on the rapid and dynamic advances in telecommunications technology.

I am confirmed in my view that the actions which we recently took with respect to the advancement of the respectability of our financial center places us in the right position today. For this reason, I think we can do no better than to place the greatest emphasis on service quality.

(Extract from an Address by Sir William Allen, Minister of Finance, to the Bahamas Financial Service Board’s Awards Banquet)