Guernsey: Stepping up to meet challenging times

Last Updated: 2 June 2010
Article by Peter Niven

Most Read Contributor in Guernsey, September 2016

During this last year the world has been picking itself up off the floor of the global financial downturn. We have seen the start of renewed confidence in the markets but this really is just the start of a trip down what will be a very long road to recovery and at the moment I would gauge that the general economic conditions remain fragile and will be so for some months to come.

Guernsey cannot be completely immune from these worldwide issues, although the Island has to a large extent remained resilient in the face of these pressures. Perhaps the most significant fallout though has been the increased international focus on so-called 'tax havens' or 'offshore' centres.

I am very pleased however to say that the Island is consistently recognised as being within the very top tier of international finance centres. This is a message that is right at the heart of our activity as we promote Guernsey's finance industry across not just the traditional UK and European centres but also further afield in the emerging markets of China, India and the Middle East.


The economic conditions have demonstrated the way in which today, more than ever before, we are part of a global financial community. Guernsey has been adamant throughout that it has not exported instability but has been subjected to it and we have not been able to completely shelter from the impact.

However, one of Guernsey's great strengths is the breadth of finance business that is carried out in our small Island. So, while the general downturn has adversely impacted business flows within some sectors such as banking and funds, others like (captive) insurance and fiduciary services are seeing an upswing or have identified new prospects.

For example, total deposits held by banks in Guernsey stood at £117bn at the end of December 2009 – down 2.3% during the final quarter of the year and 25% year on year. Guernsey's funds sector has also been heavily impacted, although it has remained pleasingly resilient and more recently we have seen some signs of growth. The total value of investment funds in Guernsey was up by 1.5% in the fourth quarter of last year to reach more than £184bn at the end of December 2009. However, it still means that there has been a contraction of 8% year on year.

From a (captive) insurance perspective it has been a period of consolidating our position as a market leader. There were 46 new insurance licences issued in 2009, compared to 37 new entrants to the market in the preceding twelve months. Overall Guernsey now has more than 678 international insurance entities and new research shows that we have retained our place as the top captive insurance domicile in Europe and number four in the world.

Guernsey's fiduciary sector also continues to see solid business opportunities on a whole range of fronts. It has been a mainstay of the Island's finance sector over the last 50 years and today we play host to more than 150 licensed fiduciary providers, ranging from large multinational organisations to local, independent operations. Together they hold more than £300bn worth of assets in trust.

What we have seen during the past year is that globally there has remained a significant amount of private wealth looking to take advantage of appropriate structures for asset protection or estate planning (and – albeit to a lesser extent – corporate monies seeking sound investment opportunities). It is within this context and the consistent validation of Guernsey's position within the very top tier of international finance centres that our fiduciary providers are reporting buoyancy in business flows. As part of this we have seen continuing inquiries regarding our more traditional wealth management services as well as a growing interest in newer products such as Qualifying Recognised Overseas Pension Schemes (QROPS).

Top tier

One of the key developments resulting from the financial crisis has been the increased focus on so-called 'tax havens' or 'offshore' centres. Guernsey has during its 50 years as a finance centre and particularly during the last decade or so faced scrutiny from the likes of the UK Government (the 1997 Edwards Report), the EU, the IMF, FATF and the OECD/G20. The Island has always cooperated in these processes and on each occasion been placed within the premier division of international finance centres.

This has continued to be the case during the past year:

  • Guernsey features alongside the UK and US on the OECD 'white list' that was published at the conclusion of the London G20 summit in April 2009;
  • The review of British Crown Dependencies and Offshore Territories by Michael Foot on behalf of HM Treasury placed Guernsey in the top division of international finance centres; and
  • Guernsey was ranked 22nd in the latest Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI 7, March 2010) – within the very top echelon of the so-called 'offshore' centres.

In addition, Guernsey continues to show its commitment to meeting international standards of tax transparency through the signing, currently, of 151 Tax Information Exchange Agreements (TIEAs). Practitioners have in the past viewed TIEAs as potentially jeopardising confidentiality and therefore a threat to attracting new business but our experience means that they are now embraced as providing confidence to clients that Guernsey is working to the highest international standards.

Indeed, there is every reason to believe that Guernsey will perform well under assessment by the IMF during the first half of this year. However, the Island never rests on its laurels but is always looking to the future. We are currently facing challenges in a variety of guises – tax transparency, corporate tax rates, a revised EU Savings Tax Directive (EUSTD) and sector specific EU initiatives, such as the Alternative Investment Fund Managers (AIFM) Directive.

We have been challenged many times in the past and the Island has always proved more than capable of adapting to survive. For example, Guernsey worked very closely with Jersey and the Isle of Man regarding the original EUSTD and we are intending a similar level of cooperation again now, not least in the need to review corporate tax rates.

It is so that we can tackle such challenges most effectively that the Island is also stepping up its representation within the corridors of power in both the UK and the EU. Guernsey is determined to do all it can to ensure that it remains attractive to clients as a jurisdiction within the very top tier of international finance centres.

New markets

This is a message that is right at the heart of our activity as we promote Guernsey's finance industry during 2010. Guernsey Finance, in conjunction with industry, is determined to ensure that we retain our high visibility in the marketplace during this period of improving economic conditions. It is vital to reinforce the very strong relationships that already exist with lawyers in the UK and particularly London, which remains our principal source of new business.

The Island's practitioners are also increasingly attracting new clients from India, the Middle East and the Far East. Some of our independent fiduciaries already have offices in locations such as Hong Kong and are now looking to establish links into Shanghai – where Guernsey has had a representative office for two years – as a way to directly access the Chinese market. We are therefore also working to increase awareness of the Guernsey brand across these regions so that the Island has a further pool of potential new business flows for the future.

For more information about Guernsey's finance industry please visit


1. Guernsey has signed TIEAs with the following 15 jurisdictions: Australia, Denmark, Faroes, Finland, France, Germany, Greenland, Iceland, Ireland, Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, United Kingdom and United States.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide to the subject matter. Specialist advice should be sought about your specific circumstances.

To print this article, all you need is to be registered on

Click to Login as an existing user or Register so you can print this article.

In association with
Mondaq Advice Centre (MACs)
Up-coming Events Search
Font Size:
Mondaq on Twitter
Register for Access and our Free Biweekly Alert for
This service is completely free. Access 250,000 archived articles from 100+ countries and get a personalised email twice a week covering developments (and yes, our lawyers like to think you’ve read our Disclaimer).
Email Address
Company Name
Confirm Password
Mondaq Topics -- Select your Interests
 Law Performance
 Law Practice
 Media & IT
 Real Estate
 Wealth Mgt
Asia Pacific
European Union
Latin America
Middle East
United States
Worldwide Updates
Check to state you have read and
agree to our Terms and Conditions

Terms & Conditions and Privacy Statement (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd and as a user you are granted a non-exclusive, revocable license to access the Website under its terms and conditions of use. Your use of the Website constitutes your agreement to the following terms and conditions of use. Mondaq Ltd may terminate your use of the Website if you are in breach of these terms and conditions or if Mondaq Ltd decides to terminate your license of use for whatever reason.

Use of

You may use the Website but are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the content and articles available (the Content). You may not modify, publish, transmit, transfer or sell, reproduce, create derivative works from, distribute, perform, link, display, or in any way exploit any of the Content, in whole or in part, except as expressly permitted in these terms & conditions or with the prior written consent of Mondaq Ltd. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information about’s content, users or contributors in order to offer them any services or products which compete directly or indirectly with Mondaq Ltd’s services and products.


Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the documents and related graphics published on this server for any purpose. All such documents and related graphics are provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers hereby disclaim all warranties and conditions with regard to this information, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. In no event shall Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers be liable for any special, indirect or consequential damages or any damages whatsoever resulting from loss of use, data or profits, whether in an action of contract, negligence or other tortious action, arising out of or in connection with the use or performance of information available from this server.

The documents and related graphics published on this server could include technical inaccuracies or typographical errors. Changes are periodically added to the information herein. Mondaq Ltd and/or its respective suppliers may make improvements and/or changes in the product(s) and/or the program(s) described herein at any time.


Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including what sort of information you are interested in, for three primary purposes:

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, newsletter alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our information providers who provide information free for your use.

Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) do not sell or provide your details to third parties other than information providers. The reason we provide our information providers with this information is so that they can measure the response their articles are receiving and provide you with information about their products and services.

If you do not want us to provide your name and email address you may opt out by clicking here .

If you do not wish to receive any future announcements of products and services offered by Mondaq by clicking here .

Information Collection and Use

We require site users to register with Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to view the free information on the site. We also collect information from our users at several different points on the websites: this is so that we can customise the sites according to individual usage, provide 'session-aware' functionality, and ensure that content is acquired and developed appropriately. This gives us an overall picture of our user profiles, which in turn shows to our Editorial Contributors the type of person they are reaching by posting articles on Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) – meaning more free content for registered users.

We are only able to provide the material on the Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) site free to site visitors because we can pass on information about the pages that users are viewing and the personal information users provide to us (e.g. email addresses) to reputable contributing firms such as law firms who author those pages. We do not sell or rent information to anyone else other than the authors of those pages, who may change from time to time. Should you wish us not to disclose your details to any of these parties, please tick the box above or tick the box marked "Opt out of Registration Information Disclosure" on the Your Profile page. We and our author organisations may only contact you via email or other means if you allow us to do so. Users can opt out of contact when they register on the site, or send an email to with “no disclosure” in the subject heading

Mondaq News Alerts

In order to receive Mondaq News Alerts, users have to complete a separate registration form. This is a personalised service where users choose regions and topics of interest and we send it only to those users who have requested it. Users can stop receiving these Alerts by going to the Mondaq News Alerts page and deselecting all interest areas. In the same way users can amend their personal preferences to add or remove subject areas.


A cookie is a small text file written to a user’s hard drive that contains an identifying user number. The cookies do not contain any personal information about users. We use the cookie so users do not have to log in every time they use the service and the cookie will automatically expire if you do not visit the Mondaq website (or its affiliate sites) for 12 months. We also use the cookie to personalise a user's experience of the site (for example to show information specific to a user's region). As the Mondaq sites are fully personalised and cookies are essential to its core technology the site will function unpredictably with browsers that do not support cookies - or where cookies are disabled (in these circumstances we advise you to attempt to locate the information you require elsewhere on the web). However if you are concerned about the presence of a Mondaq cookie on your machine you can also choose to expire the cookie immediately (remove it) by selecting the 'Log Off' menu option as the last thing you do when you use the site.

Some of our business partners may use cookies on our site (for example, advertisers). However, we have no access to or control over these cookies and we are not aware of any at present that do so.

Log Files

We use IP addresses to analyse trends, administer the site, track movement, and gather broad demographic information for aggregate use. IP addresses are not linked to personally identifiable information.


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that Mondaq (or its affiliate sites) are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of these third party sites. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this Web site.

Surveys & Contests

From time-to-time our site requests information from users via surveys or contests. Participation in these surveys or contests is completely voluntary and the user therefore has a choice whether or not to disclose any information requested. Information requested may include contact information (such as name and delivery address), and demographic information (such as postcode, age level). Contact information will be used to notify the winners and award prizes. Survey information will be used for purposes of monitoring or improving the functionality of the site.


If a user elects to use our referral service for informing a friend about our site, we ask them for the friend’s name and email address. Mondaq stores this information and may contact the friend to invite them to register with Mondaq, but they will not be contacted more than once. The friend may contact Mondaq to request the removal of this information from our database.


This website takes every reasonable precaution to protect our users’ information. When users submit sensitive information via the website, your information is protected using firewalls and other security technology. If you have any questions about the security at our website, you can send an email to

Correcting/Updating Personal Information

If a user’s personally identifiable information changes (such as postcode), or if a user no longer desires our service, we will endeavour to provide a way to correct, update or remove that user’s personal data provided to us. This can usually be done at the “Your Profile” page or by sending an email to

Notification of Changes

If we decide to change our Terms & Conditions or Privacy Policy, we will post those changes on our site so our users are always aware of what information we collect, how we use it, and under what circumstances, if any, we disclose it. If at any point we decide to use personally identifiable information in a manner different from that stated at the time it was collected, we will notify users by way of an email. Users will have a choice as to whether or not we use their information in this different manner. We will use information in accordance with the privacy policy under which the information was collected.

How to contact Mondaq

You can contact us with comments or queries at

If for some reason you believe Mondaq Ltd. has not adhered to these principles, please notify us by e-mail at and we will use commercially reasonable efforts to determine and correct the problem promptly.