An **Essay and Speech Competition** focussed on the financial services industry is underway in secondary schools throughout New Providence.

Since 2001, the Bahamas Financial Services Board, Ministry of Education and Ministry of Finance have joined forces to sponsor an Essay and Speech Competition, as part of a comprehensive School Outreach Programme, which itself is a component of a broader “domestic focus” programme that seeks to integrate the industry with the wider community. The event has had wide-ranging support and, in fact, has been cosponsored by the financial services-related Professional Industry Associations as well as the Rotary Club of East Nassau, and Rotary Sunrise. Corporate Sponsor from inception of the programme has been Bahamas Business Solutions Limited. This year, KPMG has come on board as a corporate sponsor as well.

In the past, the competitions have been scheduled as part of the annual two-day Careers Fest, which promotes careers in the financial services industry, targeting senior level grades in the public and private secondary schools. This year, they have been scheduled as stand-alone events.

Guidance Counsellors and/or Business Teachers introduced the competitions within their respective schools at the beginning of the year, encouraging all business track students to submit an entry. These educators also have undertaken responsibility for the first phase of the competition, reviewing all submissions and selecting one essay for submission to BFSB – as the top essay from their respective school. Likewise, in the case of the Speech Competition, only one entrant from each school can be entered after an internal selection process.

A panel of Judges will be responsible for selecting the overall winners. The final leg of the speech competition judging will be held in a public forum on March 4th, at which time the winners for both competitions will be announced. Judges for the 2009 Competitions are Candia Dames, News Editor, Nassau Guardian; Marietta Russell, BFSB’s Achiever of the Year (Bank of the Bahamas); Patricia Glinton-Meicholas, Author; Sanchina Kemp, BFSB’s FSI Student of the Year (Deloitte); and Steve Davis, UBS Bahamas Ltd.

This year, students had the opportunity to choose one of 2 different themes: a topic specific overview of the current global economic crisis or a more general overview of the financial services sector: The topics are Current Global Markets / Economic Crisis and its impact on the Bahamian financial services sector: How do you think current global economic events will affect our financial services industry going forward in the mid to long term? And – General Overview of the financial services sector in The Bahamas: What do you see as the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of our financial services industry?

The Careers Fest and Student Competitions represent components of BFSB’s ongoing Financial Centre Focus (FCF) public awareness and education programme. BFSB and other sponsors collaborated on the first National Career Awareness Month (NCAM) during October 2008, incorporating a 3-day Careers Fair and various School Outreach activities. BFSB has committed to coordinating participation in the 2009 NCAM again this year.

Members of the Working Group for the annual event include Anastacia Johnson (Association of International Banks & Trust Companies); Anita Bain (Society of Trust & Estate Practitioners);
Ann Smith (Ministry of Education); D. Nguyen-Comito (Bahamas Financial Services Board); Denora Butler (Bahamas Association of Compliance Officers); Dexter Fernander (Ministry of Finance); Evan Dean (Bahamas Business Solutions Ltd.); Kristina Fox (CFA Society of the Bahamas): Marcia Seymour-Miles (College of the Bahamas); Nadine Frazier (Insurance Institute of the Bahamas); Roger Brown (Bahamas General Insurance Association); Reece Chipman (Bahamas Association of Securities Dealers); and Zoe Powell (Ministry of Education).

BFSB says these activities pay tribute to the important role human resource development plays in the maintenance and expansion of the financial services sector. The global financial services industry has undergone major changes, but one factor remains constant: the depth of professional services available is crucial to growth. BFSB will continue to support school outreach initiatives as part of its annual “programme of work” and, indeed, is complementing these with relevant programmes within the sector itself – e.g. its “Business Leadership and Entrepreneurship (BLE)” seminar series that seeks to motivate and inspire “future leaders”. Other mentoring programmes are under development now.

*Photo Caption: Members of the Working Group at an early planning session to discuss the criteria and scoring process for the competition*