More than 130 financial service practitioners from The Bahamas and internationally took part in the 11th annual International Business and Finance Summit (IBFS) at Sandals Emerald Bay in Exuma this past weekend.
Presented by the Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB), the three day conference which ended today explored a wide range of topics and issues confronting the international financial services industry including regulatory reforms, changing client behavior, demographic shifts, digital lifestyle and work style revolutions under the theme “Survival of the Fittest”.
BFSB Chairman Prince Rahming said the conference was designed to examine forces not only affecting global economies but which are reshaping the financial services landscape as well. *“It is said that the best in innovation historically has taken place in turbulent times – adversity bringing to the fore inherent creativity to meet challenges head on,”* he noted. *“IFCs and financial services institutions have been fortunate in turning adversity into business opportunity – and we don’t see this changing for the centres that will survive.”*
One of highlights of the conference was a presentation by Bloomberg TV Anchor Adam Johnson, who through a series of case studies demonstrated the power of innovation and creative thinking in growing and sustaining business. Commenting on Mr. Johnson’s’ presentation titled “Innovation Nation. How the Smartest CEOs in the World are Adapting”, BFSB CEO and
Executive Director Aliya Allen said while Smart Funds and the Bahamas Executive Entity are successful examples of Bahamian innovation, there is more work ahead. *“I think Adam’s
presentation struck a chord with everyone in the room,”* noted Ms. Allen. *“The Smartest CEOs ask themselves what they have now that they are not using efficiently. This is the same question we should ask ourselves as a jurisdiction – what can we leverage more effectively to provide a broader base of benefits and advantages to our clients?”*
The Hon. Ryan Pinder, Minister of Financial Services, who was one of some twenty government and regulatory officials attending IBFS, represented The Bahamas on a panel titled “Benefitting from the New World Order,” which examined developments occurring in several jurisdictions including The Bahamas. Other panelists included a trio of Withers LLP experts: Joseph Field, Shahjahan Ali and Jennifer Laurine. Simon Beck of Baker & McKenzie LLP moderated the session.
The Minister also addressed delegates at a breakfast session at which he noted The Bahamas has undergone a sector evolution in recent years with funds and other products now strongly supplementing the country’s strong private wealth foundation and Latin American markets figuring more prominently alongside The Bahamas’ historic European based business. *“Our sovereignty has contributed to this evolution,”* said the Minister. “Twenty years ago our sovereignty was viewed as a potential liability. Today it is one our key strengths and advantages as a jurisdiction”.
Other sessions included:
**”Post FATCA – What next?”** presented by Steven L. Cantor, Managing Partner, Cantor & Webb P.A.
**New World Order – Emerging Markets & Their Needs** which took a macro view of recent regulatory and tax developments that impact use of and relations with IFCs in general and with The Bahamas in particular. Ivan Hooper, CEO, The Winterbotham Trust Company, moderated the session whose panel members included William Heuseler, Head-Wealth Planning Team, Itaú Private Bank (Sao Paolo, Brazil); Juan Villamil, Vice President, Pictet Bank & Trust (Nassau, Bahamas) who covered Colombia; and Victor M. Barajas Barrera, Partner, Basham, Ringe y Correa, S.C. (Mexico City).
**Thriving in the New World Order – Focus on Products & Services**, moderated by C. James Schaefer, IV, Chief Operating Officer, Old Fort Financial. Rene Werner, Werner & Associados, Sao Paolo, Brazil spoke about how family values and religious factors play an integral part in structuring a Family Office while Maria C. Escobar, Head-Captives Solutions LatAm, Marsh Captives Solutions, talked about the Captive Insurance opportunities for The Bahamas in Latin America.
**Leaping Ahead**, a lively discussion on the impact of and issues facing women in the global workforce, featured the views of two Bahamian women working at senior management positions abroad — Kelly Lockhart Banks, Americas Region Head –Technology (Private Banking), Citi (NY) and Michelle Degoumois, Director, AG, (Zurich) — and Andy Burrows, a Bahamian financial services executive working in Bermuda. Michele Thompson, Country Managing Partner, Ernst & Young moderated the session.
**Independent Directors: Evaluating the Landscape & Opportunities in the New World Order**, presented by Linda Beidler-D’Aguilar, Partner / Chairman, Corporate, Commercial & Securities practice group, Graham Thompson
**Who is the Client? Evolutionary Changes in Customer Demography**, which focussed on the changing cultural paradigm and the new definition of family in this context, presented by Daniel D. Morris Senior Partner of Morris + D’Angelo, a Silicon Valley and Portland, Oregon based CPA firm specializing in integrating entrepreneurial advisory services and international taxation strategies. Dan is also Co-Founder of the Bahamas-based Strategic Global Advisors.
**New World Order Mega Trends – Adapting to and taking Advantage of Challenges and Opportunities These Bring to Light**, with panellists Simon Townend, Partner, KPMG; and Robert D. Colvin, Principal, Robert D. Colvin & Associates.
Ms. Allen said BFSB will be reviewing the input and information from all sessions and sharing a summary with BFSB members. *“This year’s event introduced a number of subjects and issues that have far reaching effects on the sector and our jurisdiction,”* she said. *“What is clear is that we must continue to evolve and innovate to remain a jurisdiction that is not only fit to survive but in fact capable of leapfrogging ahead of the competition.”*
Mr. Rahming added, *“The decisions and actions that we take from IBFS will have an important and profound impact on the future state of affairs in our industry,”*
IBFS sponsors and cooperating agencies included AIBT, Butterfield, Cantor & Webb, China Offshore, Ernst & Young, Julius Baer, KPMG, Managers of Wealth, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Scotia Private Client Group and the Bahamas Ministry of Tourism, who provided entertainment for each of the 3 evening events.