The Hon. Allyson Maynard-Gibson, Minister of Financial Services and Investments, presented remarks at the LOMA CARIBBEAN CONFERENCE being held June 27-29 at the Atlantis Resort, Paradise Island – under the theme: *Expanding Your Horizons: Staying Ahead of the Competition.* This annual conference, cosponsored with LIMRA, is focussing on industry management and marketing issues for the Caribbean region.
Addressing the insurance executives on the first day of sessions, the Minister pointed to the many reasons for The Bahamas’ success in Financial Services – since the 1960s – including:
. the commitment by successive administrations to a tax neutral platform;
. a commitment to personal privacy, coupled with a strong anti money laundering regime;
. a strong anti terrorist financing stance;
. a modern legal framework based on the common law;
. ready access to Bahamian and international talent;
. good communications; and
. excellent and strong public/private sector collaboration and cooperation.
*”The Bahamas commitment to compete with top financial centres and thereby to ensure the quality of our centre has been demonstrated by our commitment to strong response to market demands, and a strong regulatory and supervisory infrastructure,”* said Minister Maynard-Gibson.
The combined effect of new industry legislation places The Bahamas at the cutting edge of the financial services sector, and according to the Minister this is essential if The Bahamas is to retain its significant comparative advantage in the private wealth management sector. *”This legislation not only updates the general legislative and supervisory environment but introduces a new style of collective investment vehicle and other business tools, such as the Purpose Trust and Foundations which will enhance The Bahamas’ ability to attract new types of businesses.”*
Acknowledging the financial services sector as a means by which quality of life can be improved for the Bahamian people, as well as the significant changes to the world of financial services in 2000, the Government recognises the need to diversify the financial services platform although strong focus remains on private wealth management. *”We have already announced our commitment to grow our Investment Funds sector and our Insurance Sector (domestic and external). In this way, The Bahamas will be seen as a full complement centre for financial services.”*
Conference participants were told that the 83 insurance related entities licensed to operate in The Bahamas have approximately $697 Million in assets on their balance sheets and over 3,000 employees.
Of particular importance to the insurance sector will be the passage and enactment of the Segregated Accounts Companies Bill, the new Domestic Insurance Act (now in its final stages) and the new External Insurance and Pensions Acts. The latter, she said, will set up the framework of reforms needed for the local insurance industry to position itself for “a more globalised, liberalised, and competitive future.”
Additionally, the Office of the Registrar of Insurance Companies has indicated to the industry its intention of working with the industry to raise standards of corporate governance, internal controls, and professionalism. Specifically, the Office has (a) taken steps to move from a prescriptive, one-size-fits-all rules-based inspection approach to a risk-based supervisory approach that places a higher level of management accountability on the industry; and (b) identified a need for an industry-wide code of practice and compulsory minimum training and competency framework.
The Minister concluded, *”As you can see, the financial sector in The Bahamas is poised for growth. It is a hot spot because of the strong legislation, the entrenched political stability based on our long history of democracy, well established and understood judicial system, proximity to the world’s largest market and most importantly, because of our people.”*
Founded in 1924, **LOMA** is an international association through which more than 1,250 insurance and financial services companies from over 70 countries engage in research. Its educational offerings include the FLMI, FFSI, PCS, ACS, AIAA, AIRC, AIAF, AAPA, ARA programs. **LIMRA** International provides research, consulting, and other services to its members — nearly 850 insurance and financial services companies in more than 60 countries.