[IBFS 2013](http://www.ibfs-bahamas.com) was held Feb 1-3 at the Bimini Bay Resort. It was preceded by a CEO Dinner on January 31, at which time the Prime Minister brought remarks to registrants, and gave considerable focus to the importance of a public private partnership to grow the sector.

The event attracted 147 registrants in total, representing 74% private sector participation (of which 7% were professional industry associations). There was 11% Government and Industry Regulator participation, and some 15% of total registrants represented international speakers and guests.

The Planning Committee for IBFS 2013 took note of the historical focus of creating a meeting place for 120-plus leading stakeholders in the financial services industry in The Bahamas for business development and networking in an off-site location, and supported the recommendation arising from 2012 feedback forms to host the event in Bimini. The Committee also supported the recommendation to continue to attract a fair % of international guests.

The annual summit presented an ideal opportunity to build on the many and varied accomplishments that have created The Bahamas Advantage (The new industry brand) as well as a platform to reinforce the imperative of remaining “ahead of the game”. Hence, the theme that proved to be very conducive in attracting speakers and delving into relevant issues: “The Bahamas Advantage: Staying Ahead of the Game”. A particular focus as the outreach was made to speakers was the need to examine changes that drive The Bahamas Advantage and the resources needed to maintain and enhance the industry’s strategic edge. The end result was a comprehensive approach to the agenda, with success in attracting a good mix of local and international speakers.

The various presentations and dialogue at the event reinforced the programme of work already outlined for BFSB in the coming year and, indeed, the years ahead. A compelling message coming out of IBFS 2013 was that BFSB and industry at large share a mutual commitment to “stay ahead of the game” and keep this jurisdiction well positioned – on a number of fronts. As always, it will be important to have these translate into actual action steps in the coming weeks. Already, BFSB’s Board of Directors is studying “The Way Forward” (A BFSB Plan for 2013 and Beyond) document arising from IBFS, and incorporating the key themes brought out during the event and the Closing “Way Forward” session. Chairman Paul Winder says, *“We need to show direction, that we are being proactive and that there is clarity in our plan. We cannot cover everything; however, it needs to be punchy, tangible and, most importantly, believably achievable.”*

It was useful to have the forum used for the launch of the strategic vision of the new Minister of Financial Services. CEO Aliya Allen says, *“We look forward to working with the Ministry’s team to further develop the concepts tabled in Bimini.”* Minister Pinder presented what he described as a “progressive, forward-looking vision” that will change the growth trajectory of this economy, but stressed that this will not be done without the cooperation of the private sector. Some of the key action points he referenced were the rebranding of The Bahamas as a full business services centre; a comprehensive approach to increasing the competitiveness of The Bahamas as a business centre; a comprehensive approach to business friendly immigration policy; a comprehensive approach to innovation management; a focus on new geographic markets and new sectors; and leveraging The Bahamas’ sovereignty as an asset.

In addition to the IBFS presentations by the Prime Minister and the Minister of Financial Services, BFSB was delighted to also welcome Sen. The Hon. Allyson Maynard-Gibson, Attorney General and Minister of Legal Affairs, as a featured speaker during IBFS. The Minister spoke on the “Ease of Doing Business” in the jurisdiction and practical developments underway to improve business operations. She focussed on specific initiatives within the OAG (Swift Justice, integrated Justice, Court Reporting) and within the Registrar General’s Department (Deeds and Documents, Companies, Births and Deaths, Maritime Marriages, Intellectual Property). On the latter, she reported on developments to expand the online offerings within the Companies Department.

The Hon. Fred Mitchell, Minister of Foreign Affairs and Immigration, joined participants for the Thursday evening event.