The Hon. C.V. Hope Strachan, M.P., Minister of Financial Services, was the keynote speaker at BFSB’s February Industry Briefing, held at the downtown British Colonial Hilton yesterday. The Minister provided an overview of developments within the sector and reiterated her Ministry’s continued focus on sustaining the financial services sector, and the ongoing commitment to the work ahead. Noting that she had celebrated her first anniversary as Minister of Financial Services just last month, Minister Strachan emphasised the importance of the sector as the second pillar of the Bahamian economy and expressed optimism about its future. *“I am confident that together we will be able to respond to the challenges and maintain the soundness and stability of our financial services industry.”*

The Minister used the opportunity of the Briefing to highlight a number of key issues of her Ministry’s mandate and the current state of the industry:

* Challenges
* Proposed Solutions
* Capturing New Business
* Diversifying Service Offerings
* Educational Initiatives
* Product Improvement
* Immigration Initiatives
* Ease of Doing Business

*Download the complete text of the Minister’s presentation below.*

##BFSB Updates##

Also speaking at the Industry Briefing was Tanya McCartney, BFSB’s CEO & Executive Director. She focussed on a number of policy matters at the forefront of discussions and collaboration with the Ministry and Government of The Bahamas in recent months, inclusive of:

* Developing an Implementation Strategy for Common Reporting Standards/Automatic Exchange of Information;
* Reviewing Immigration Policy and the need to enhance operational efficiencies as it relates to processing applications;
* Reviewing The Bahamas’ Strategy for negotiating additional TIEAs, especially as it relates to civil law jurisdictions;
* Addressing the Pressure on Correspondent Banking relationships and developing a proactive public/private sector approach to mitigate any negative impact;
* Addressing potential adverse listings by EU and Luxembourg; as well as
* The Caribbean Financial Action Task Force (CFATF) Assessment of The Bahamas (final report pending)

Ms. McCartney also spoke to BFSB’s marketing initiatives for 2016, noting the series of international conferences and Bahamas Landfall events scheduled in coming months. These include market outreach in Latin America, Asia and the UK, with particular focus on the private wealth management and captive insurance sectors.

Reporting on recent interaction with the BFSB membership and other key stakeholders, the CEO noted that several key issues have been raised by members, many of which will be discussed at the upcoming [CEO Strategy Conclave]( in Abaco, and many of which already have been the subject of ongoing deliberations with the Minister and her Cabinet Colleagues. Amongst the issues put forth by members:

1. Prioritizing the Strategy for Implementation of Automatic Exchange of Information/CRS;
2. Ease of Doing Business generally;
3. Pressures on Correspondent Banking Relationships;
4. Immigration Policy and Process Reform; and
5. A review of The Trustee Act

Going forward, BFSB’s Working Group and Ad Hoc Committee system will be utilised to continue work on all relevant issues, inclusive of those to be identified at the Conclave.

**CEO Strategy Conclave**

With particular regard to the Conclave which takes the place of the annual [International Business & Finance Summit]( (IBFS) for 2016, CEO McCartney reported that the event will be hosted under the theme *“The Bahamas Advantage: Defining Our Value Proposition”*. It has been structured to measure the effectiveness of recent strategies and programmes with the view of sharpening the focus of what distinguishes The Bahamas from competing jurisdictions for financial services, while recognizing the shifting landscape issues due to increased transparency and cooperation.

She said, *“We have made great progress in recent years in recognizing what we need to do to maintain a strong competitive position, but at the same time we realize that to sustain and build the industry we must be in a constant state of evolution and adaptation. It starts with examining what we do best – our value proposition in other words – and building realistic yet aggressive policies, strategies and programmes around our strengths as a jurisdiction. The Summit has been structured to be a working session where we drill down deep on our value proposition and develop action plans that BFSB and its member firms can undertake in a coordinated fashion.”*