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Minister touts importance of The Nassau Conference

Addresses ‘shift in expectations’ of financial services industry
  • Ryan Pinder, minister of financial services (left), speaks with Michael Halkitis, minister of state for finance, at the recent Nassau Conference. BIS


Published: Oct 23, 2013

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Minister of Financial Services Ryan Pinder said that his ministry views The Nassau Conference as an event that promotes continuing investment in education of financial services professionals, as evident in this year being the second consecutive that it is the lead sponsor for the event.

“We also are pleased to, for a second year in a row, partner with AIBT (the Association of International Banks and Trust Companies in the Bahamas) to advance one of the initiatives I am most proud of, the provision of opportunities in the financial services industry for students at the College of The Bahamas seeking to develop their careers, much like many of you have done,” Pinder said as he addressed the recent event at the British Colonial Hilton.

His presentation was entitled “The Shift Has Occurred: The New Thinking on Tax and Trade”.

Minister Pinder pointed out that students from The College of The Bahamas were given the opportunity to attend The Nassau Conference 2013 at no cost.

Secondly, he noted that his ministry’s partnership with AIBT has allowed for a summer internship program to be offered to COB students at institutions in the financial services field.

“These real world experiences for future professionals in our industry are invaluable to their professional development,” said Pinder.

“AIBT also offers a language immersion program in Mexico for COB students to advance their opportunities.  This partnership between AIBT and my ministry has made a lasting impression on the lives of these young students.”

Pinder noted that the theme for The Nassau Conference 2013 was “The Shift Has Occurred: How are You Positioned?”

He added that the theme “perfectly captures the momentum of the day.”

“We at the Ministry of Financial Services have, for some time now, sensed this shift - a shift in the way we do business; a shift in how we position ourselves; a shift in world expectations and a shift in expectations for ourselves.

“We are pleased to be ahead of the curve, in our thinking and in our response to the world — but we have noted the shift nonetheless.”

Pinder said that the development of The Bahamas as a financial centre is a story that makes him proud as a Bahamian.

“It makes me proud as a citizen of a small, sovereign island nation, that our forefathers were able to transform an economy into this vibrant financial centre,” he said. “Our history as a financial centre shows progressive, forward-looking vision, constantly developing based on innovation.

“Our traditional comparative advantages, together with the common law tradition, an attractive legislative and cost structure and an investor friendly business climate, catapulted The Bahamas to a household name as an international financial and business center.”

He said The Bahamas has seen tremendous benefit in terms of incomes from that development strategy.

“We saw the development of an upwardly mobile middle class.  We saw the quality of life and standards of living breaking away from our Caribbean peers,” he said.

“Today, The Bahamas is considered a wealthy economy - a high-income country.”

Pinder cautioned that the “shift” today, however, requires continued innovative activity in order to maintain and grow as a financial center.

“Gone are the days of The Bahamas competing against Cayman and Isle of Man,” he said.

“The shift has meant that The Bahamas must now compete against New York and Geneva.”

Pinder said that the “shift” requires a forward-looking vision that includes change.

“As I said, I think that we have been ahead of the curve.  As such over the last decade, industry has been moving with the tide to reposition The Bahamas. However, this government is committed to tackling the changes that are necessary head on, to ensure that our growth trajectory continues to lead to a brighter future.

“This mandate takes vision. It takes action. It takes cooperation between the private sector and the government and it takes leadership to succeed in a shifting world.”

The changes that are occurring in the industry require serious introspection, Pinder said.

He noted that clients are not coming to The Bahamas because of what has now become irreverent terminology, words like “secrecy” or “tax minimization”.

“No, our clients come and continue to come to The Bahamas because of a host of many special assets that we offer as a jurisdiction. I speak of assets such as sovereignty: that is the ability to make our own decisions, in our own best interest within our country.

“I speak of the fact that we have sensible, flexible regulation and the commitment of the government from the attorney general’s office and the ministry of finance and the regulators, to ensuring that we are top in class with respect to our international standards and commitments.

“It is imperative that my ministry is in tune with industry to understand its needs and wants. Our close collaboration with the AIBT is evidence of this.”

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