**The Hon. James Smith, CBE
Minister of State for Finance
Ministry of Finance**

The move towards more wealth creation, wider distribution of corporate ownership and increased efficiencies in the allocation of financial resources is the result of deliberate economic policies adopted by most democratic governments over the past two decades to increase competition in financial services and other sectors through the process of liberalisation of markets.

Further, concomitant with a growing awareness of the range of financial products and services that are available – and wealth increase because of the benefits to be derived from saving and investing – is a growing demand for financial advice.

These observations came from Sen. the Hon. James Smith in ***Opening Remarks*** at a Financial Planning Seminar organised by BFSB over the weekend. He pointed out that, as a general principle, the Bahamas Government is very much interested in expanding and deepening the information flow in the nation. In this context, the Seminar was viewed as being consistent with the Government’s goal of creating a more informed society as a basis for fostering economic growth.

**Economic Development**

The extent to which any community could effectively manage and grow its assets base augurs well for overall economic development since personal and corporate savings growth are indispensable to the expansion of domestic investment.

According to the Finance Minister, The Bahamas could expect to see the following as more and more residents engage in financial planning:

· A larger part of the population will have a direct interest in the outcome of corporate decisions;

· More and more residents will be concerned as to whether companies are using their assets as efficiently as possible;

· A growing interest in and recognition of the importance of economic policy decisions which could effect the return they receive from their investments; and,

· A growing realisation that individuals and households should manage their money as efficiently as possible and, above all, that they should plan for their future.

On the macro-economic level, the Minister reported a larger proportion of populations engaged in monitoring savings and investment decisions and giving collective oversight to broader economic policy decisions. Those activities, he said, could only lead to overall improvement in the performances of local, regional and, indeed, global economies.

Vigilance insofar as efficient resource allocation and the productive use of assets are concerned will lead to stronger growth, rising incomes, more jobs and ultimately higher standards of living.

**Financial Sector Growth**

Acknowledging the Financial Planning Seminar as an important step in the process of deepening and expanding the local financial services sector, the Minister confirmed the support of the government in this connection. Specifically, participants were told that existing and planned policy reforms of the Bahamas Government are aimed at encouraging the financial services sector to become more innovative and dynamic, while at the same time providing the supportive and sustainable economic environment within which to operate.

*”I can safely assure you that the government intends to continue to work towards the construction of a regulatory regime which encourages expansion of the financial services industry along an innovative path which embraces the opportunities provided by technology.

Given the new and emerging globalisation governance standards, we recognise that our regulatory regime must foster an environment in which consumers have confidence. Consequently, provisions must continuously be made to ensure that appropriate levels of consumer protection are always in place.”*


The 1  day Seminar, held in conjunction with **Love 97’s 2003 ShowCase Bahamas**, included the following presentations:

· **Personal Financial Planning** – *Julian Rolle, Audit Manager, Ernst & Young*

· **Estate & Retirement Planning** – *Tyrone L.E. Fitzgerald, Partner, Halsbury Chambers* and *Tanya Wright, Manager, Bank of the Bahamas Trust*

· **Uses of Insurance In The Financial Planning Process** – J.S. Johnson & Co. Executive Team, including *Yvette Ingraham, Operations Manager; Edward Albury, Motor Underwriter; Yvette Coakley, Senior Property Underwriter; and Tanya Woodside Manager, Life, Health and Employees Benefits*

· **Banking Services of Financial Institutions** – *Kenrick Brathwaite, The Plaza Branch Manager, Commonwealth Bank Ltd.*

· **Consumer Credit & Legal Protection** – *W.A. Branville McCartney, Partner, Halsbury Chambers*

· **Budgeting, Planning & Investments** – *Kenwood Kerr, Senior Client Relations Manager-Investment Services, SG Hambros Bank & Trust Ltd.* and *Sean Longley, Senior Associate, Colina Financial Group*

The various presentations will be posted under Special Reports (see menu on the left) in due course.