CIFSA: The road ahead

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As the Cayman Islands Financial Services Association (CIFSA) celebrates its 5th anniversary as the central voice of the financial services sector in the Cayman Islands, it is only appropriate that we examine the work being performed by this association that represents such an important part of the Islands’ economy and discuss their vision for the future of the industry here. 

About CIFSA: The Cayman Islands Financial Services Association CIFSA was founded in 2003 to represent Cayman’s financial services industry and to promote the jurisdiction as a quality international financial services centre and is funded by over 40 private sector Ordinary and Associate members, and 8 industry associations. CIFSA works with its members to ensure the promotion of the jurisdiction is consistent and effective. By working together CIFSA is able to leverage its reach both locally and internationally.

As the Cayman Islands Financial Services Association (CIFSA) celebrates its 5th anniversary as the central voice of the financial services sector in the Cayman Islands, it is only appropriate that we examine the work being performed by this association that represents such an important part of the Islands’ economy and discuss their vision for the future of the industry here.

Once a fledgling association in a sector seemingly overflowing in such bodies, CIFSA has now, without a doubt, become a crucial component of Cayman’s financial services industry. Having obtained a critical mass in its membership over the past year or so, CIFSA is now an international voice that demands recognition, and their input is being sought more and more regularly by international news agencies and competitive jurisdictions in dealing with global financial issues.

The Cayman Islands has been able to build itself into a global offshore financial centre in part due to the strong partnership existent between private sector and Government. This allowed for a very responsive business environment that could quickly capitalise on opportunities and stay ahead of the curve in adopting new products and services. Because the lines of communication are more open between the public and private sector here, and everyone is working in the best interests of building and maintaining the jurisdiction’s reputation for integrity and compliance, Cayman has been able to establish new legislation in a timely manner while maintaining high standards of compliance.

Maintaining this relationship is a vital part of CIFSA’s role. While many residents just assume that Cayman will always remain a major player in global financial services, CIFSA and the Government are both well aware of the potential challenges facing the industry. These include the development of other offshore financial centres and the threat of legislation from onshore jurisdictions like the US, France, and Germany that could severely impact the ability of businesses in those countries to work with the Cayman Islands.

These businesses are portable and first came to Cayman in the 1960s because of policy mistakes made elsewhere in the Caribbean. That opened the door for Cayman to begin building our financial centre and to attract top industry people who participated in our growth. So we know how fast these things can change and turn on us if we are not vigilant in our defence of the industry.

In order to ensure that the general population of Cayman truly understands the impact that financial services has in Cayman and its importance to virtually every sector of the economy and important social causes, CIFSA launched a domestic awareness programme in May of 2008. The educational programme was developed jointly with the Public Relations Unit of the Portfolio of Finance of the Cayman Islands Government and is a key step in building public understanding, trust and support for the industry that creates so many opportunities for the local population.

Through advertising, public speaking events, interviews, a travelling display and an information packed website, the Everybody’s Business campaign, as it is known, has been quite effective in reaching out to the population. David Bree, a CIFSA director, describes the feedback they are receiving from the public as generally quite positive.

He says there is a strong desire for even more information, and to expand the campaign beyond its initial six months.

Over the years CIFSA has developed a positive relationship with the local media and is often approached to provide expert opinions on relevant topics.

The media in Cayman generally sees CIFSA as a voice for the industry and a reliable source for providing accurate information and balanced commentaries. This is another way it seeks to keep the public involved and informed with the industry.

Looking beyond our borders, CIFSA must constantly monitor the international political and financial landscapes to stay on top of emerging trends and assess the potential opportunities and threats that lie ahead.

The greatest threat remains the misinformation being spread about the Cayman Islands Financial Services industry, exacerbated today by the desire for politicians to identify a villain, preferably a foreign one, for the recent crash in global financial markets.

What we are doing is standing up and saying ‘This is who we are, this is why you need us, and this is how we benefit the global economy’. We have to explain our function as an integral part of the global financial system. In doing so, we sometimes have to make strong statements denouncing the false, misleading and harmful comments that some politicians, competitors and uninformed media make about our industry and our country. We are proactive in our efforts, but they are done in the spirit of cooperation and partnership. We are looking for friends, not enemies.

This sort of measured, thoughtful approach has served CIFSA well. CIFSA continues to be successful in obtaining positive editorial commentary in the international market with high profile publications such as the LA Times, Miami Business and Lifestyle Magazine, Alternative Investment Review, NY Times, Le Temps, NY Post, Washington Post and Fondswerte magazine.

The association also launched its successful Business Luncheon series, which seeks to bring well respected journalists to Cayman to see for themselves what is done here. Journalists from titles such as The Wall Street Journal and The Telegraph have spoken to a packed room of professionals at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.

Several smaller events such as a dinner with Mary Cheney, political insider and daughter of the former US Vice President Dick Cheney, and a marketing working group with the author of the Global Financial Center Index rounded out a busy 2008 calendar, which also included speaking opportunities and sponsorship of a number of regional and international conferences.

In order to deal with the increasing demands placed upon CIFSA for information, it redesigned and reorganised its website over the last several months. An improved archive section, more powerful search features and updated content are some of the important changes they made in response to user demand and feedback.

Challenges will always present themselves to our upstart little financial centre, the tiny country that had the nerve, foresight and keen instincts to build a globally respected financial centre where only a single bank stood before. But CIFSA remains confident that the current storms will pass if the industry and Government continue to do their parts in working with international regulators, facilitating the flow of accurate information, and meeting the needs of their various clients through continued innovation and flexibility.

The best way to deal with these challenges is to allow the independent international standard setting bodies to do their jobs and to provide them with the access and information they need to assess our regulation and compliance regime in Cayman. Just this past year we have seen several independent reports, and even a US Government report, that have been extremely positive in their assessment of Cayman’s integrity and professionalism. CIFSA has actively promoted the results of these assessments to the world and demonstrated that we are not just meeting minimum standards, but in fact far surpassing the standards of many onshore jurisdictions that openly criticize us.

Now that the US election cycle is complete, CIFSA hopes that common sense and a fair, balanced approach will rule the day. Protectionism and severe new restrictions on the flow of capital are not the prudent responses to this global financial crisis. That could do far more harm than good. By getting the facts out there and having productive discussions with key decision makers and news agencies, CIFSA feels confident they can achieve a positive outcome for the Cayman Islands.

Five years after its creation CIFSA, is now well-equipped to present the Cayman Islands as a leading international financial centre, that is not only successful commercially, but also in terms of its adherence to regulatory standards. CIFSA plays an important and proactive role in communicating the quality and integrity of the Cayman Islands financial services sector to the world.
 

 

CIFSA

CIFSA Chairman Eduardo D’Angelo P. Silva, with the Hon Alden McLaughlin and guest speaker John Fund of the Wall Street Journal.
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Eduardo Silva

Eduardo is an experienced banking and finance professional with over 30 years’ experience of providing financial and corporate governance services to a wide variety of commercial, private wealth and investment fund clients.
  Eduardo is the managing director of JP Management Services Limited and is a director of JP Integra Trust Company (Cayman) Limited which together provide corporate governance and trust administration services to private wealth and commercial clients. He is a senior figure in the Cayman Islands financial services sector and has served as president of the Cayman Islands Bankers Association, trustee of the Cayman Islands Private Sector Trust, chairman of Cayman Finance, Honorary Consul of Brazil and Trustee and Chairman of the Chamber Pension Fund, the largest pension fund in the Cayman Islands.
Eduardo started his banking career with Banco Itaú and Banco Crefisul in Brazil, before accumulating extensive experience in international banking and finance business as managing director of the offshore banking arm of Sul America de Seguros Group, a leading financial and insurance group in Brazil and Latin America. He has been based in the Cayman Islands since 1994 and has been a frequent speaker at conferences in Cayman and overseas, on topics related to compliance, regulation and development of the offshore financial industry.
Eduardo has a Bachelor’s Degree in Electrical Engineering and a Master of Business Administration. He is a Notary Public, holds the Accredited Director designation with the Institute of Chartered Secretaries and Administrators (Ottawa, Canada) and is a member of the Executive Committee of the Cayman Islands Directors Association.

Eduardo D’Angelo P Silva
Chairman
EDPS Consulting
P. O. Box 31093
Grand Cayman KY1-1205
Cayman Islands
 

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JP Integra Group

JP Integra Group provides a unique offering of financial, fiduciary, transaction, fund and trust administration, consultation and legal expertise to enable clients to structure and manage complex international capital holdings, foreign exchange, broking and investment projects.Governor’s Square, PO Box 10176, 23 Lime Tree Bay Ave, Grand Cayman, KY1-1002.