Minister of Financial Services the Hon. C.V. Hope Strachan, M.P., led a delegation from the Ministry to the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) Global Congress June 30 to July 1, 2016 in Amsterdam, Holland. The Ministry of Financial Services was a silver sponsor of the event.

The Congress provided the Ministry with the opportunity to reach some 400 practitioners from 45 countries – promoting The Bahamas as a premier Financial Services Centre. The two-day forum targeted STEP members, lawyers, accountants, bankers, tax practitioners, and intermediaries of all facets of financial services from around the world.

Minister Strachan touted The Bahamas’ value, including its natural physical attributes, advanced infrastructure, many years of experience in Financial Services, cadre of well-educated and experienced financial services practitioners and, most importantly its products and services, capacity to innovate, and well-regulated, robust regime. She highlighted challenges that confront the industry and, in particular, countries in the Caribbean: *“We know that for many of us, particularly for those of us in comparatively smaller jurisdictions, that these challenges are even more critical. The Bahamas and the Caribbean region can attest to the pressures which have come to bear in meeting and complying with the commitments of our global regulators, the de-risking measures undertaken in the commercial banking sector and certainly the measures taken to prevent tax avoidance, or to collect taxes globally. We continue to dedicate resources to meet our international obligations. We believe that The Bahamas’ value proposition prevails over any pressures brought to bear from external forces.”*

Reportedly, considerable interest in doing business in The Bahamas was expressed, with Minister Strachan confirming that she will *“work diligently to ensure that this translates into tangible business for The Bahamas.”*

During the Congress, an impressive line-up of other speakers presented on a variety of topics centred upon private wealth, including perspectives on global challenges for practitioners and their clients. Special attention was paid to the issues of transparency, the Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI), and the Common Reporting Standards (CRS). Further, an analysis of the broad impact of the various global regulatory obligations like US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), Common Reporting Standard (CRS), Anti-Money Laundering (AML), Know Your Customer (KYC), and Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) on countries and practitioners was undertaken.

CEO and Executive Director of The Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB), Tanya McCartney was also in attendance at the Congress. (Click [here]( for media release). She notes that Congress delegate received a special [BFSB-prepared Trust Bahamas Supplement]( that spoke to how The Bahamas has adapted over the years to meet client needs and standards of international best practice in the trust sector. In particular, the Supplement highlighted The Bahamas’ value proposition, the diverse toolkit and shared the perspective of two international advisers, Steve Cantor and Rose Chamberlayne as to why The Bahamas is so highly rated as a trust jurisdiction by US and UK advisors.

*Photo Caption: Minister of Financial Services the Hon. C.V. Hope Strachan, M.P. is pictured third left. Also pictured are (l-r): Ivan Cooper, CEO, Winterbotham Trust Co. Ltd.; Cassandra Wilson, Financial and Trade Officer, MFS; Shira Newbold, Managing Director, Intertrust Group; LaTonia Tinker, Consultant, MFS; Angelique Sawyer, Financial and Trade Officer, MFS; Heather Thompson, Higgs and Johnson*