Private wealth management is the foundation of The Bahamas’ financial services industry. With its historic commitment to providing high quality service to families that span the globe, The Bahamas is in fact one of the world’s foremost wealth management centres. The strength of the country’s private wealth services has contributed to The Bahamas becoming a mature financial centre, whose services to a global clientele now include the full range of private banking, estate planning, asset management and fund administration. The Bahamas also provides services to the international capital markets, insurance and maritime industry. Corporate registry and legal and accounting services are at the core of the range of services available in The Bahamas.
This diversity not only reflects The Bahamas’ long history in providing financial services, which dates back to the 1930s, but it also reinforces the jurisdiction’s ongoing commitment 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. These and other essential characteristics were not lost on The Banker, an FT publication, which named The Bahamas The Best International Financial Centre in the Western Hemisphere.
The priority that The Bahamas places on making The Bahamas an ideal location for the wealthy to live and conduct business cannot be overstated. The emphasis on development of a services based economy is fully supported by all political parties in the country. With the growth of private wealth and other areas of financial services established as a key focus of the country, The Bahamas has been very careful to ensure that its legislative and administrative frameworks are continually refined, facilitating legislation and products to 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 includes the retention by the settlor of certain powers without compromising the validity of the trust.
* The 1991 Fraudulent Disposition Act provides which sets both an appropriate period and the right balance by giving the creditor both 2 years to mount their challenge and the responsibility to demonstrate a fraudulent intent on the part of the settlor.
* 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 allows private investment funds to enjoy a supervisory environment which is appropriate to the fund rather than a broad brush regulatory approach. These funds are increasingly playing a role in wealth structures for clients and family offices seeking greater control, transparency and cost control while accessing important investment opportunities.
* Long recognized in Civil Law countries, The Bahamas became the first premier common law jurisdiction to introduce Foundations. 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.
An independent nation since 1973, The Bahamas marked 275 years of Parliamentary Democracy in September 2004 which ranks it as one of the oldest, most vibrant democracies in the Western Hemisphere. . The Bahamas, as a Member of the British Commonwealth, joins with major economies such as Australia and Canada that maintain important ties to the United Kingdom while exercising its full sovereign rights to pursue its national development goals. The Bahamas is also an active participant in the United Nations and the Organization of American States.
The legal system in The Bahamas, modeled on the British pattern and independent of the political process in the country, provides a well-established environment for international business. The highly respected judiciary of The Bahamas includes a Supreme Court with unlimited jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters, a Court of Appeal and a final Appellate Court in the Privy Council of London. It is important to note that the Privy Council of London looks to Bahamian legislation as a primary source on which to base its rulings. The Bahamas’ commitment to maintain the Privy Council of London as its final Appellate Court saw the Privy Council make historic visits to The Bahamas. The Privy Council of London has sat outside of the city of London on two occasions; on each of these occasions, they selected the city of Nassau.
With more than 200 banks and trust companies located in The Bahamas, 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 world–wide reach and influence of these institutions, combined with the entrepreneurial character of the country’s well regarded medium and smaller institutions and related financial service organizations, allow The Bahamas to look at business opportunities on a global basis.
The integrity offered by institutions located in The Bahamas provides a secure environment. With personnel committed to the local community, continuity of service is more predictable and secure in The Bahamas, and is the basis of its many longstanding institutional and client relationships.
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, excellent flight connections and compelling lifestyle choices, including world renowned residential communities, premier hotels and restaurants.
Regulation in The Bahamas has also served the industry well. Here, policy makers and regulators are committed to open and ongoing dialogue with the private sector. This has created an environment designed to encourage the continued growth of the sector through adherence to internationally accepted regulatory principles, and efficiency in the conduct of business.
The country provides a tax neutral platform in which there are no income, capital gains and inheritance taxes. There is also no stamp duty on security transactions. As there is no distinction between Bahamians and non-Bahamians, a person choosing to do business or to live in The Bahamas receives the same benefits that Bahamians do.
As the second largest contributor to the Bahamian economy, the financial services industry also provides essential linkages to other vital business sectors. Second home ownership by global high net worth families is on the rise with the presence and continued development by world renowned organizations spanning the many islands of The Bahamas. The Bahamas is also a global leader in the maritime sector.
We encourage you to consider The Bahamas as your home for financial services.
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 many faces that populate the spectrum of quality clients.