Presenting Opening Remarks at the 2012 [Nassau Conference]( today, Minister of Financial Services the Hon. Ryan Pinder said the Government’s recreation of his Ministry shows that it has renewed its commitment to the financial services industry. *“A mandate of the Ministry of Financial Services is to promote the financial services industry of The Bahamas, create new financial products and seek out new linkages and opportunities to work with international partners. We as a country have a commitment to ensuring that The Bahamas is not only first off the lips when it comes to the choice of an international financial centre, but that our product offering is the most progressive and effective in the international marketplace. We collectively look forward to the advancement of the industry and the country, working in partnership with all interested parties, private sector, policy makers and the regulators, to ensure the advancement of the country.”*

Minister Pinder commended the Association of International Banks and Trust (AIBT) Companies and the organisers of the event for all their hard work in creating a forum for continued education and exposure of the financial services industry. *“The various topics to be discussed are very timely in every instance, and the level of speakers, panelists and moderators are second to none internationally.”* The Ministry supported the event as a lead sponsor

**International Centre – Open for Business**

Minister Pinder said that over the many decades as an international financial centre, The Bahamas has demonstrated that it is a jurisdiction with a highly skilled workforce, a long history of integrity, a well-regulated industry where wealth is managed and – in turn – positioned for international business and investment globally. “*In this vein, we remain committed to the philosophy of confidentiality and look to work hand-in-hand with the regulators to ensure that we are a jurisdiction sensitive to the operation of the private sector and an inviting jurisdiction to the international financial services participants. We are a global business hub; we are the gateway to the Americas, acting as a natural partner for international business.”*

Noting the recent promotional trip to Brazil in partnership with the Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB) and his participation in the recent STEP LATAM Conference in Panama , where BFSB and a large Bahamian business delegation also were in attendance, the Minister spoke to the “obvious” inter-connection between the Bahamas and Latin America. *“This is clearly a coordinated approach by The Bahamas, a sovereign nation, to focus on Latin America, in financial services, and other areas of economic development such as trade. We are the Gateway to the Americas, our geographic location, being in the same time zone, having a longstanding reputation in the region, an independent nation, a developed international financial centre positions The Bahamas to be the leader in this regard.”* Having said that, Minister Pinder added, The Bahamas also recognises its history and ongoing relationships with European clients. “*We as a jurisdiction continue our commitment to our historical client base, as well as the commitment to be the preeminent jurisdiction for wealth management, recognising our place as a jurisdiction that operates within international best practices,”* he said.

Minister Pinder said that one of The Bahamas’ greatest assets, and a characteristic valued by many the world over, is that it is a stable and experienced democracy, a sovereign country. Being a sovereign country, he said, not only allows it to make independent decisions and laws, but it also allows it as a country to legislate and create policy for the further advancement of international business. *“The Bahamas has been a nimble country – being able to quickly react to the changing financial services environment – reacting to the ever-changing international business climate. The ability for The Bahamas financial services industry to demonstrate its creativity, and the regulators and Government to work with the private sector to bring new products into force in a timely fashion, demonstrates the business-friendly environment of The Bahamas. This has been the reputation of The Bahamas, being able to identify products for the advancement of the international private sector, and proceed to enacting them.”* Minister Pinder added, *“This is why The Bahamas has the most effective, flexible, and practical financial services toolbox in the world, delivering results in an ever-changing international business environment — results of a stable and sovereign democracy.”*

**Developing Human Capital**

*“I am particularly pleased to welcome the students from the College of The Bahamas who are here today in the audience, learning from a practical point of view about the industry that they strive to build a career in. He reiterated that the Government of The Bahamas is committed to doubling the investment in education and training.”* The Nassau Conference, he said, is an example of this commitment. *“The Ministry of Financial Services has demonstrated its commitment to the development of human capital here in The Bahamas through the launch of our continuing education seminar for financial services professionals this month. The advancement of our human capital domestically in The Bahamas not only promotes career development but also allows for The Bahamas to be a superior jurisdiction in financial services.”*

He personally thanked AIBT for partnering with the Ministry of Financial Services in the development of the young human capital of the Bahamas by welcoming 25 College of the Bahamas students to the Nassau Conference. The students have the opportunity to be exposed to “cutting edge” issues presented by some of the best practitioners in the world as they prepare to develop a career in financial services, Minister Pinder said. “*Through the sponsorship by the Ministry of Financial Services, we have allowed for the opportunity for 10 of the College of The Bahamas students to experience real world training. They will be awarded summer internships to international financial institution members of AIBT. This allows for on-the-job training for young Bahamians seeking a career in financial services, an opportunity that should be embraced, an opportunity that can be a launching pad for careers of young Bahamians in financial services.”*

Minister Pinder noted that some AIBT member institutions have undertaken to post young Bahamian professionals in jurisdictions abroad – specifically in Switzerland. *“I personally have practiced and gained professional experience in multiple jurisdictions and can specifically speak to the advantages of such exposure,” he added. I encourage international financial institutions to continue providing this experience to young Bahamian professionals.”*

In conclusion, the Minister said, “*The Bahamas as a sovereign democracy, a country that demonstrates its flexibility in responding to evolving international financial services industry, has the tools and leadership to be the preeminent international financial and business centre, the avenue to the Americas. On behalf of the Government of The Bahamas, I want to thank you for your attendance and I trust the presentations will not only be beneficial, but will help demonstrate the leadership position of The Bahamas.”*