CIFSA has been actively promoting its revamped public affairs and public relations campaigns for what has been an eventful few months. The most notable result has been the success of the CIFSA campaign to promote the inclusion of Cayman on the OECD White List.
CIFSA Chairman Anthony Travers has been heavily engaged in his role as spokesman for the association. His most recent letters and commentary have been published in The Washington Times, Hedge Fund Journal, and The Nation and he has been quoted extensively in articles by The Economist, Reuters, Dow Jones Newswire, Hedge Fund Manager Week, Global Investor magazine, Worth Magazine and other foreign press. Mr Travers has also appeared internationally on the BBC World Radio News, Bloomberg and closer to home on Cayman 27.
Over the coming weeks the chairman will be meeting with a series of national Editors in the UK to continue his lobbying efforts in support of Cayman’s financial industry, building on his commentary on industry issues like the EU Alternative Investment Funds Directive.
Lobbyists speak at CIFSA dinner
In July, CIFSA hosted the much anticipated visit from Washington lobbyists Quinn Gillespie and Associates. Jack Quinn and Manuel Ortiz of QGA spoke at the CIFSA dinner event and later had a series of meetings with senior members the Cayman government, the Cayman Islands Stock Exchange and the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority. Mr Quinn and Mr Ortiz told a packed room of Cayman’s financial and political players that they were busy clearing up ‘misconceptions’ of how the Cayman Islands was perceived in the United States.
“Our targets are the administration, members of Congress in key positions and the media,” Mr Quinn said.
“We have a campaign that is aimed at a relatively small but critical audience… There are several hundred people, most in Washington, DC whom we have to persuade of the truth, the facts and the implications of any policy changes.”
The lobbyists’ strategy is to convince that group of individuals that Cayman’s banking system is not shrouded in secrecy and does not encourage tax evasion.
Mr Ortiz outlined the steps Quinn Gillespie and Associates were taking. These included taking the temperature of the White House and informing those advising President Barack Obama on tax and offshore financing issues, as well as speaking with senators, such as Senate Finance Committee chairman Max Baucus, on proposed legislation dealing with tax issues, to explain fully Cayman’s position.
Getting Cayman’s financial services industry’s voice into the national and international media is also part of the plan, as is accessing and answering postings on online blogs and social networking sites about tax havens and offshore finance issues. “The real effort here has to be retail education, one policy-maker at a time, one journalist at a time, one editorial board at a time, one expert in tax or other field on whom we can rely for help at a time,” Mr Quinn said.
In August, the Cayman Islands government formally signed a Tax Information Exchange Agreement with New Zealand, bringing the total bi-lateral TIEAs for the Cayman Islands to twelve. Having reached the required number of TIEAs, as set out by the OECD, the Cayman Islands was subsequently added to the OECD White List.
This is a significant accomplishment for the new government in just a few short months since taking office. CIFSA representatives sit on the government’s Financial Services Council, and regularly attend meetings with CIG on matters that concern the industry. CIFSA is also represented on the newly formed Investment Council which is focused on private sector initiatives to attract business investment to Cayman.
CIFSA fully intends to remain alert and responsive to new challenges that may present themselves and proposes to be proactive in developing relations with foreign governments and media. The truth remains our strongest ally in attempting to dispel myths and cultivate more accurate perceptions of our financial services around the world.
The inclusion of the Cayman Islands on the White List is an important step for the industry but CIFSA does not intend to rest upon that accomplishment. We recognise, and are monitoring, the initiatives that many foreign governments are considering to legislate in a way they hope will increase tax revenues and limit the use of offshore vehicles that legally minimise tax payable. CIFSA proposes to work with CIG to educate policymakers and lawmakers about the positive impact offshore vehicles have on global competitiveness, investment and employment in developed countries.
FT Global Forum
In September, Mr Travers attended the London based FT Global Forum, sponsored by CIMA. “There exists in some quarters still an entrenched mischaracterisation of the Cayman Islands, as a place where certain individuals hide their money from foreign tax officials,” said Mr Travers. “The single greatest challenge in my role as Chairman of CIFSA is to expose the fallacy of these misperceptions in the light of the factual record. To that end CIFSA engaged the services of established lobbying and PR firms in Washington and London to assist us in this area. And we have already seen tremendous progress in tearing down the old stereotypes.”