**Nathaniel Beneby

The **Bahamas Institute for Financial Services** (BIFS) hosted its ***31st Annual Awards Ceremony*** yesterday, showcasing the rich pool of financial professionals that The Bahamas possesses. Some 173 certificates, diplomas and specialised certifications were awarded, and the Institute recognised seven former students who have excelled in their careers with Certificates of Fellow and Honourary Fellow. These designations also acknowledged services provided by the honourees towards the growth and development of BIFS.

Underpinning the many strengths and attributes of the successful Bahamian financial industry are the people who have contributed to the development of Bahamian financial services over the years. Mr. Beneby pointed out that human resources is one of the most crucial factors for the sustained development of any economy and, in the financial services sector in particular, the need for an adequate supply of high calibre professionals cannot be over-emphasised. BIFS was created in 1974, with the aim of drawing together the industry and the academics to train and “train up” financial professionals. The true value of the training programmes offered by BIFS over the years, he said, was the large number of graduates who hold key management positions throughout the sector.

With the assistance of its academic and industry partners, as well as the many skilled lecturers that give of their time and expertise every year, BIFS looks forward to even greater achievements ahead. *”We are in a new cycle of development as the financial services industry grows and changes and our training programmes must grow and adapt to new conditions as a result.”* Particular emphasis was placed on maintaining the close partnership with the College of The Bahamas, which fully endorses the diploma programmes offered by BIFS, and provides the quality assurance needed for students to be able to transfer their credits to other academic institutions. Other key industry partners acknowledged included the Bahamas Institute of Chartered Accountants, the Central Bank, the Bahamas Financial Services Board, the Association of International Banks & Trust Companies and the Bahamas Association of Compliance Officers. *”Each of these bodies along with equivalent international organizations, contributes key inputs to the Institute’s training policies and programmes,”* said Mr. Beneby.

The Institute’s training programmes are especially essential as the demand for senior management level talent, with diverse skills and leadership ability, is increasing. Over the next three years BIFS plans to expand its membership to include financial services organizations like credit unions and the insurance industry. Its goal is to provide training programmes to enhance the entire financial services industry.

In his congratulatory remarks to the graduates *(see full list on the BIFS website)*, the President emphasised that *”professionalism in the financial services sector requires integrity, responsibility to our customers, knowledge of our job and a will to uphold the highest ethical practices.”*

Colin Morrison of the Chartered Institute of Bankers in Scotland was a special guest at the Awards Ceremony. The CIBS is the world’s oldest financial services training institute. With a distinguished history in financial services that dates back over 300 years, Scotland is now one of Europe’s leading financial centres and the second largest financial hub in the UK next to London.