With its historic commitment to providing high quality service to families that span the globe, The Bahamas is one of the world’s foremost **wealth management centres**. While private wealth management serves as the foundation, The Bahamas offers a full range of private banking, estate planning, asset management and fund administration services. The Bahamas also provides services to the international capital markets, insurance and maritime industries. Corporate registry and legal and accounting services are at the core of the multitude of services available in The Bahamas.
This diversity not only reflects The Bahamas’ long history in providing financial services, but the ongoing commitment of the jurisdiction to maintain and grow its presence as a provider of high quality financial services. Furthermore, it demonstrates the importance and foresight of the many progressive developments in the jurisdiction as it continues to meet the requirements of an increasingly sophisticated financial services marketplace.
The Bahamas has been very careful to ensure that its legislative and administrative frameworks are continually refined so that legislation and products meet emerging market needs.
Examples of the jurisdiction’s progressiveness include:
• An innovative **Trustee Act 1998** whose provisions set the standard for trust legislation and include the retention by the settler of certain powers without compromising the validity of the trust.
• The 1995 introduction of The Bahamas’ model of an **Unrestricted Fund Administrator** which set the standard for the delegation of authority to a regulated financial services provider.
• **SMART©Funds** which allow private investment funds to enjoy a supervisory environment which is appropriate to the fund rather than a broad brush regulatory approach.
• The **Bahamas Foundation**. The Bahamas was the first premier common law jurisdiction to introduce foundations, long recognized in civil law countries. The Bahamas Foundation allows for private, commercial or charitable use.
• Specific **Private Trust Company** legislation that allows for exclusive interaction between the client and its Bahamian financial services provider, with light touch regulation and flexibility to address the unique and varied requirements of families.
Many of the world’s largest and most prestigious financial institutions have branches or subsidiary operations in the jurisdiction, taking advantage of the country’s stable political and economic system. The integrity and continuity offered by the 200 plus banks and trust companies located in The Bahamas provides a secure business environment.
Continuity of service, which lies at the heart of a successful professional relationship, is a priority for the industry which is staffed and managed by a large pool of experienced professionals, the majority of whom are Bahamians.
Regulation in The Bahamas has also served the industry well. Policy makers and regulators are committed to adherence to internationally-accepted regulatory principles, efficiency in the conduct of business and open ongoing dialogue with the private sector. The Bahamas recognizes that it operates in a globally integrated market for financial services. As a result, the country’s regulatory and counter-money laundering legislation meets global standards.
Many of the country’s features complement and support the financial services sector including a robust information communication framework, a wide variety of Class A office facilities and business support services. It was these elements, along with others, that prompted The Banker, an FT publication, when benchmarking financial services jurisdiction in 2005 to name The Bahamas the “Best International Financial Centre” in the Western Hemisphere.
Most importantly, investors will find a warm welcome when they come to The Bahamas as both the jurisdiction and its institutions continue to take steps to ensure they respond to the evolving needs of the global marketplace.
The **Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB)**, launched in 1998, represents an innovative commitment by the financial services industry and the Government of The Bahamas to promote a greater awareness of The Bahamas’ strengths as an international financial centre. BFSB represents and promotes the development of all sectors of the industry, including: banking, private banking and trust services, investment funds, capital markets, investment advisory services, accounting and legal services, insurance, and corporate and shipping registry. Associate Memberships cover real estate, information technology and marketing & public relations. BFSB does not supplant existing financial services associations that continue to serve individual professional groups within the industry as they have in the past. Rather, the Board complements them, drawing much of its strength from close intra-industry participation and collaboration.