More than 145 financial services professionals from The Bahamas and internationally attended the annual [International Business & Finance Summit]( (IBFS), hosted this past weekend in Marsh Harbour, Abaco.

Paul Winder, Chairman of the Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB) said, *“Although relatively new, IBFS has its origins as a long-standing strategic planning vehicle for the Board, and the recent event lived up to expectations of promoting this jurisdiction as an ideal location for both international business and finance, while at the same time helping BFSB better define some of its action plans for the year ahead. The locale in beautiful Abaco also served to reinforce our message that The Bahamas indeed is the place to not only conduct business, but to live.”*

Under the broad theme of “Pursuing Comparative Advantage” IBFS 2012 focused on examining current strategies and ways to advance comparative advantage, bringing together a large and broad cross section of stakeholders in the industry and internationally. BFSB CEO & Executive Director Aliya Allen says, *“BFSB recognises the reality that individuals, institutions and jurisdictions must focus on key benchmarks and exploit their comparative advantages for success. IBFS 2012 targeted the right mix of individuals – presenters and participants – to examine current strategies and ways to advance comparative advantage in today’s business environment.”*

Ms. Allen added, *“BFSB appreciates the great enthusiasm for the event demonstrated by both domestic and international participants and their ready willingness to collaborate over two and half days of intense sessions and discussions.”* In addition to the 30+ international intermediaries, most of whom served as presenters, the list of distinguished participants at IBFS 2012 included The Hon. Zhivargo S. Laing, Minister of State for Finance, who provided Opening Remarks on behalf of the Rt. Hon. H.A. Ingraham, Prime Minister of The Bahamas. The Hon. L. Ryan Pinder, M.P., represented the Official Opposition. Also in attendance were the heads of the regulatory bodies: Governor Wendy Craigg of the Central Bank of the Bahamas; Philip Stubbs, Chairman of the Securities Commission of the Bahamas; Dave Smith, Executive Director of the Securities Commission, and Michele Fields, Superintendent of the Insurance Commission of the Bahamas. Additionally, an impressive number of other government and credit union officials joined with private sector industry stakeholders to make up the attendees at the annual event.

Of particular note, the international presenters and other external invitees represented a cross section of global financial services, with experts coming from North and South America, Europe and the UK, and China. Without exception, these external intermediaries spoke to the value of events such as IBFS to update them on developments within the Bahamian financial services sector and the unique networking opportunities with industry and regulators – both of which enable them to speak with authority to clients about “The Bahamas Advantage”.

In keeping with past events the agenda for the working sessions was wide ranging, covering issues such as trends in the industry; holistic planning for markets such as Latin America, the United States, China and the Middle East; philanthropy becoming a priority for more and more clients; developments in the Asset Management sector; global developments of particular impact tor the industry, inclusive of OECD, FATF and FSF initiatives; and talent management challenges specific to financial services. The Summit concluded with an interactive session on a “Wish List” for The Bahamas and what needs to be done to sustain the financial services sector.

IBFS 2012 also was successful in attracting a broad range of sponsors and cooperating agencies, including: Association of International Banks & Trust Companies (AIBT), ATC Trustees (Bahamas) Ltd., Bahamasair, BORCO, COPA, Ernst & Young, Grand Bahama Port Authority Ltd., Klonaris & Co., Ministry of Tourism, PricewaterhouseCoopers, RBC Wealth Management, Schooner Bay, Societe Generale Private Banking, and UBS Trustees ( Bahamas) Ltd.

Ms. Allen said the event has set the stage for a comprehensive schedule of BFSB initiatives for the year ahead. In upcoming months, there will be steady focus on both jurisdictional development and external communications and marketing programmes. Plans are also underway already for the next Summit, scheduled for February 2013.

BFSB operates as a partnership with the public sector, and the vision it is pursuing is a joint product of industry and government. Specifically, BFSB is focused on promoting The Bahamas as a globally competitive international business jurisdiction for private wealth management, international investment into the Americas and the emerging markets, and as an ideal place of residence for High Net Worth Individuals (HNWIs). This vision, BFSB maintains, will result in the creation of high value jobs and business opportunities on a sustainable basis. At the time the strategy statement was developed, it was recognised, too, that its success would depend on leveraging the opportunities for international business and finance through an integrated approach across “The Bahamas Advantages” for financial services, and including related sub sectors.