**Craig Gomez
BFSB Chairman**

The ***2008 Bahamas Financial Services Retreat*** will be held January 18-20 at the Abaco Beach Resort & Boat Harbour in Marsh Harbour, Abaco. This annual event brings together stakeholders to learn of industry developments and contribute towards BFSB’s 2008 Agenda, while also providing opportunities for networking.

Expectations are that the annual event will have the usual high level of participation by Government Ministers and Officials, Regulators, Professional Industry Association Working Groups, and member firms. Already, BFSB has announced that the government delegation will be led by The Rt. Hon. Hubert A. Ingraham. The Hon. Brent Symonette, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Sen. the Hon. Claire Hepburn, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, The Hon. Tommy Turnquest, Minister of National Security and Immigration, The Hon. Zhivargo Laing, Minister of State, Ministry of Finance, The Hon. Desmond Bannister, Minister of State for Legal Affairs and Sen. The Hon. Elma Campbell, Minister of State for Immigration will also be in attendance. Regulators Gov. Wendy Craigg, Philip Stubbs, Hillary Deveaux, Pauline Sherman, and Nathaniel Adderley will also participate.

Chairman Craig Gomez says, *“BFSB is pleased to host the Retreat in Abaco for the first time. We feel that the continuing high level of participation – 130+ for the 5th BFS Retreat – is a clear indication of the influence of the financial services sector.”*BFSB has made a conscious decision to host the planning sessions in the Family Islands, and the Chairman points to the impact on the islands as well as the demonstrable linkages between financial services and other industries.

The format will remain similar to previous Retreats in that BFSB has planned a number of Plenary Presentations as well as Breakout Sessions. The latter will be kept to small groups to facilitate dialogue on the industry issues being covered in the plenaries.

Plenary Presentations will be delivered by international speakers Mr. Ben Arrindell, Ernst & Young, Barbados; Mr. Fernando Boyd, Morgan & Morgan, Panama; Dr. Malcolm Couch, Isle of Man Treasury; Mr. Michael Douglas, Aon Global Insurance Managers, US; Dr. Paolo Filippini, Banca del Gottardo, Switzerland; and Mr. Mark Sills, Fasken Martineau DuMoulin LLP, Canada. Local speakers include Central Bank Governor Wendy Craigg, Ms. Rowena Bethel, Ministry of Finance and John Delaney, Bahamas Trade Commission.

Ongoing nurturing of public/private sector collaboration is always a key objective of the Retreat. The broad level of participation by government, regulators and the private sector has assured that the events are successful. In particular, BFSB finds the recommendations arising from the working sessions as key pillars as it plans its programme of work every year.