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2005-05-18 22:22:28

Bahamas Financial Industry Needs More Innovation

In order for The Bahamas to compete on an international and regional playing field, it will need to meet a range of unique and growing client demands.

Addressing members of The Bahamas Institute of Financial Services at the British Colonial Hotel on Tuesday, David Sussman, Chief Executive Officer of Franklyn Templeton Fiduciary Bank said, "Clients are demanding more sophisticated, structured and compliant solutions and are no longer satisfied with what I describe as soft advice."

He said the new breed of international client generally does not invest "simple" sums of money and stated that Trusts and International Business Companies (IBC's) are fast becoming obsolete for their purposes.

Additionally he said, "We are now catering to a next generation audience" and detrimental to this process is offering only standard form documentation, services in one or two languages, and having a single jurisdiction footprint was indicative of a market participant whose days are numbered.

Giving an assessment of clients' feelings about service levels at international multi-national institutions, he said that they are generally frustrated, indicating the level of competition with which The Bahamas has to contend in terms of assessing its own product and how it fits the mould of the "new" client.

Mr Sussman also noted some characteristics of market participants that would be important factors in meeting clients' needs. "The new breed of market participant is going to be smaller, more nimble and is unencumbered by the legacy issues plaguing its larger, more bureaucratic institutional competitors."

He said in order to be successful in the market, participants should take into consideration the following questions:

* Are the benefits from global trends being predicted?

* Have strategies been identified to target key clients?

* Do we actually know who our key clients are?

* How do we prepare in relation to our traditional and emerging competitors?

Mr Sussman assessed The Bahamas in terms of where it stood competitively on a regional and international level, and used the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Strengths (SWOT) model to make a brief analysis.

He informed that The Bahamas' strengths were in its legislation and immigration policies, and said, "We have a new sweep of legislation that will in many instances give us a competitive advantage.

The legislation introduced over the last year is quite impressive, although some are more successful than others." Specifically, he felt more optimistic about the formal recognition of the role of the regulators.

On the point of immigration he felt The Bahamas' policies positioned it well in relation to some other jurisdictions, although he said we could make these policies work more effectively to the advantage of local Bahamians.

On the contrary, he said The Bahamas is criticised for a number of limitations, some of which he clarified were "perceived limitations." According to him, the areas of downfall for The Bahamas included telecommunications infrastructure, rising rate of violent crimes, and an opaque regulatory regime all factors that the new breed of client takes into consideration when choosing a jurisdiction to handle his or her affairs.

Barry Williams, Nassau Guardian Staff Reporter

 
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