In October of 2009 the Cayman Islands Financial Services Association officially changed its name to Cayman Finance to more directly indicate who they represent and avoid the common use of the acronym CIFSA among the broader audience they were now targeting with their messages.
Anthony Travers serves as Chairman of Cayman Finance and continues in his role as international spokesperson for the association in the media.
Having achieved White List status in August 2009 after signing its 12th Tax Information Exchange Agreement with New Zealand, the Cayman Islands has since signed its 14th bilateral TIEA in October, this one with the Netherlands, in an attempt to stay ahead of the OECD’s shifting goalposts. The chairman of Cayman Finance is part of the TIEA negotiating team.
The Cayman Islands government consulted with Cayman Finance regarding the recent budget and their discussions with the UK regarding financing of CIG’s short term cash flow requirements and specific recommendations were made by Cayman Finance. While the government was forced to raise revenue, the decision to maintain Cayman’s historic position and not introduce direct taxation of any kind on income or property was absolutely necessary for the long-term health of our offshore business. The recent heavy over-subscription of CIG bonds (near four times over-subscribed) should send a clear message to foreign governments, including the UK, that the global financial markets have strong faith in Cayman.
Although traditional methods of taxation such as license fees, import duties, registration fees and work permit fees will impact our industry, it was felt that as a short-term expedient, these steps would allow the country to manage this short-term funding situation and emerge in a stronger fiscal position, assuming CIG implements cuts to public sector expenditures as they have indicated.
Cayman Finance also arranged an important meeting with prominent Conservative MPs and the Cayman Islands government while in the UK in early November. The MPs expressed a desire to return to a friendly and mutually respectful relationship with Cayman.
This type of productive partnership with the CIG is vitally important to our industry in dealing with foreign governments. With the support of lobbying firm Quinn Gillespie & Associates, Cayman Finance now has appropriate access to US lawmakers in the House and Senate.
Cayman Finance held many meetings in Washington with US policymakers and was very pleased with the announcement from Congress that the newly proposed tax legislation would focus on increased transparency and enhanced reporting requirements rather than blacklists or other provisions that could discourage clients from conducting lawful business in Cayman.
The results from this new overall strategic effort have been extremely encouraging to date. The initiative has been intently focused on exposing the fallacy of old stereotypes and getting the message in front of lawmakers that the Cayman Islands is, and will continue to be, among the premiere offshore financial centres in the world due to its professionalism, ethical governance and adherence to international standards.
In support of this, Anthony Travers presented at the Cato Institute in Washington during a seminar focusing on the benefits of tax competition. Travers pointed out the fact that the IRS has had legal access to accounts in Cayman for a decade but has only ever conducted 20 investigations with no discerning or reported benefit to the US treasury as a result.
Part of the strategy to counter misinformation was the creation of a new website, and the introduction of a Cayman Finance Blog. The new site, found at www.caymanfinance.ky, is very much a news portal or central resource, where users can find the latest information and commentary on issues affecting Cayman’s financial services industry. There is also a renewed focus on responding to news articles and blogs posted elsewhere if Cayman is being mischaracterised.
Cayman Finance has worked closely with the current CIG to develop plans to grow and diversify the financial services business in Cayman. This has involved discussions on immigration policy and a presence at overseas visits to promote the benefits to businesses of moving to the Cayman Islands.
Cayman Finance holds its annual general meeting in January 2010.