Guernsey: A Secure Channel

Last Updated: 22 November 2016
Article by Dominic Wheatley

Most Read Contributor in Guernsey, November 2018

Its robust financial structures and strong transparency record make Guernsey a safe harbour for wealth while other jurisdictions face unstable futures.

Guernsey has continued to solidify its position within the mainstream of international finance over the past year. Despite the uncertainty created by the UK's decision to leave the EU and the increased scrutiny placed on international finance centres in the wake of the Panama Papers, Guernsey has been able to demonstrate that it is a safe harbour for financial services, particularly for private wealth and institutional clients.

The Brexit vote came as a surprise to many and while the UK considers its own way forward, amidst all of the uncertainty Guernsey provides an oasis of stability. For a start, Guernsey's constitutional relationship with the UK will be unaffected by Brexit. Guernsey was, is, and will continue to be self-governing. Guernsey's constitutional relationship with the European Union will also remain unaffected by the result of the referendum. Guernsey was, is, and will continue to be outside of the EU, while its trading relationship with the EU for services (including financial services) will continue to be ensured through our own well-established third country provisions. We have secured this third country relationship with the EU due to the fact that over a considerable number of years Guernsey has been able to demonstrate equivalence to EU standards – a perfect example of this being the much-discussed Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive.

As was the case with Brexit, the Panama Papers was another situation which saw Guernsey emphasise and demonstrate its stability amidst the uncertainty that had gripped financial markets. Much of the fallout from the Panama Papers data leaks centred on the beneficial ownership of companies and trusts, and the level to which this information should be made public. The media coverage at the time illustrated the fact that plenty of misunderstanding remains surrounding the standards Guernsey already works to, particularly as the island's adherence to international standards is in fact ahead of other much larger jurisdictions. Indeed, Guernsey was one of the first jurisdictions to regulate trust and company service providers and this is something which still does not happen in many territories around the world today, including the UK.

In addition, Guernsey has had legislation in place since 2000 that obliges all beneficial owners of Guernsey companies and other legal persons to be properly identified and recorded by regulated corporate service providers and is one of only a handful of jurisdictions that have such measures in place. They also hold information that verifies sources of wealth.

We do not disclose this information publicly because we value client confidentiality, but this information can be accessed in a timely manner by law enforcement agencies and tax and regulatory authorities, both locally and internationally, when requested. Guernsey therefore fully supports international initiatives on beneficial ownership as in many ways we are already ahead of the curve and would welcome other jurisdictions enhancing their own regimes.

As Guernsey's recent MONEYVAL report also showed, not only do we have in place a highly effective anti-money laundering and anti-terror financing regime, Guernsey is active in its commitment to the practical implementation of tax transparency and meeting international standards.

A viable alternative

This global drive towards transparency has therefore added to Guernsey's appeal as a jurisdiction for wealth planning. Our own experience from promoting Guernsey internationally and feedback from local practitioners who have been overseas working in various markets themselves backs this up. For example, Andrea Daley Taylor from Trust Corporation International, reported that in the wake of the Panama Papers, people in the US were particularly interested in what Guernsey could offer as a jurisdiction.

"Americans have historically favoured the Caribbean financial centres and are familiar with what they know," said Mrs Daley Taylor. "There's a definite interest in shifting away from that now. We're introducing Guernsey as a viable alternative with a strong judicial system and regulatory environment that can offer a better service." She said that a move towards global transparency had been helpful in marketing 'Guernsey PLC' to US clients. "The nature of North Americans is that they are familiar with compliant structures and are generally comfortable with a higher level of disclosure. In light of the move in legislation towards greater transparency Guernsey becomes a more attractive option due to our reputation as a robust and transparent jurisdiction."

Guernsey's strong judicial system and regulatory environment are not our only differentiators. Other attractions that provide high-net-worth individuals with reassurance include our stable system of government, elected parliament, an enviable constitutional position, a neutral tax regime and a mature and sophisticated legal system.

Indeed, Guernsey's wealth management sector, which boasts more than 150 lead corporate licensees, ranging from local, boutique providers to large, multinational organisations, has a heritage dating back more than 50 years in providing asset protection, succession planning and wealth management planning for HNWIs and globally mobile families through the use of companies, trusts and most recently foundations.

Like Mrs Daley Taylor, many Guernsey-based advisers are reporting a growing influx of interest from further afield. Marcus Leese, Guernsey-based Partner at offshore law firm Ogier, reported recently that he was seeing plenty of work from South East Asia, including mainland China.

"Hong Kong, South East Asia and mainland China continue to be a strong source of work for us," said Mr Leese. "Onshore clients do have a lot of choice in terms of offshore jurisdictions for establishing structures, but Guernsey has a lot of attractions. First and foremost is the range of structures that are available: reserved powers trusts, foundations, non-charitable purpose trusts, perpetual trusts, and so on, many of which are attractive for South East Asian clients."

Another source of business for the island's wealth management services is coming from the Middle East, according to Alasdair McLaren, Client Services Director with First Names Group in Guernsey.

"A lot of our focus is no longer on the UK, but on places like the Middle East, where it's more international families and ultra-high net worths. They want commercial planning, but also potentially club investing or buying into private equity structures. I'm dealing with a Middle Eastern family at the moment that is spread across five different countries in the region, and we are looking at asset protection, estate planning, and how to protect and secure their wealth when the patriarch dies."

A different proposition

What is clear, is that individuals, families and institutions in markets further afield, such as Asia and the Middle East, are now increasingly looking towards well-regulated jurisdictions like ourselves to meet their wealth management needs. The substance evident in Guernsey's business environment offers a high degree of stability, reliability and certainty in the current climate and one that is in tune with the future direction of the global financial services industry.

An original version of this article was first published by Spear's, October 2016.

For more information about Guernsey's finance industry please visit

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
Related Topics
Related Articles
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
Registration (you must scroll down to set your data preferences)

Mondaq Ltd requires you to register and provide information that personally identifies you, including your content preferences, for three primary purposes (full details of Mondaq’s use of your personal data can be found in our Privacy and Cookies Notice):

  • To allow you to personalize the Mondaq websites you are visiting to show content ("Content") relevant to your interests.
  • To enable features such as password reminder, news alerts, email a colleague, and linking from Mondaq (and its affiliate sites) to your website.
  • To produce demographic feedback for our content providers ("Contributors") who contribute Content for free for your use.

Mondaq hopes that our registered users will support us in maintaining our free to view business model by consenting to our use of your personal data as described below.

Mondaq has a "free to view" business model. Our services are paid for by Contributors in exchange for Mondaq providing them with access to information about who accesses their content. Once personal data is transferred to our Contributors they become a data controller of this personal data. They use it to measure the response that their articles are receiving, as a form of market research. They may also use it to provide Mondaq users with information about their products and services.

Details of each Contributor to which your personal data will be transferred is clearly stated within the Content that you access. For full details of how this Contributor will use your personal data, you should review the Contributor’s own Privacy Notice.

Please indicate your preference below:

Yes, I am happy to support Mondaq in maintaining its free to view business model by agreeing to allow Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors whose Content I access
No, I do not want Mondaq to share my personal data with Contributors

Also please let us know whether you are happy to receive communications promoting products and services offered by Mondaq:

Yes, I am happy to received promotional communications from Mondaq
No, please do not send me promotional communications from Mondaq
Terms & Conditions (the Website) is owned and managed by Mondaq Ltd (Mondaq). Mondaq grants you a non-exclusive, revocable licence to access the Website and associated services, such as the Mondaq News Alerts (Services), subject to and in consideration of your compliance with the following terms and conditions of use (Terms). Your use of the Website and/or Services constitutes your agreement to the Terms. Mondaq may terminate your use of the Website and Services if you are in breach of these Terms or if Mondaq decides to terminate the licence granted hereunder for any reason whatsoever.

Use of

To Use you must be: eighteen (18) years old or over; legally capable of entering into binding contracts; and not in any way prohibited by the applicable law to enter into these Terms in the jurisdiction which you are currently located.

You may use the Website as an unregistered user, however, you are required to register as a user if you wish to read the full text of the Content or to receive the Services.

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 or with the prior written consent of Mondaq. You may not use electronic or other means to extract details or information from the Content. Nor shall you extract information about users or Contributors in order to offer them any services or products.

In your use of the Website and/or Services you shall: comply with all applicable laws, regulations, directives and legislations which apply to your Use of the Website and/or Services in whatever country you are physically located including without limitation any and all consumer law, export control laws and regulations; provide to us true, correct and accurate information and promptly inform us in the event that any information that you have provided to us changes or becomes inaccurate; notify Mondaq immediately of any circumstances where you have reason to believe that any Intellectual Property Rights or any other rights of any third party may have been infringed; co-operate with reasonable security or other checks or requests for information made by Mondaq from time to time; and at all times be fully liable for the breach of any of these Terms by a third party using your login details to access the Website and/or Services

however, you shall not: do anything likely to impair, interfere with or damage or cause harm or distress to any persons, or the network; do anything that will infringe any Intellectual Property Rights or other rights of Mondaq or any third party; or use the Website, Services and/or Content otherwise than in accordance with these Terms; use any trade marks or service marks of Mondaq or the Contributors, or do anything which may be seen to take unfair advantage of the reputation and goodwill of Mondaq or the Contributors, or the Website, Services and/or Content.

Mondaq reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to take any action that it deems necessary and appropriate in the event it considers that there is a breach or threatened breach of the Terms.

Mondaq’s Rights and Obligations

Unless otherwise expressly set out to the contrary, nothing in these Terms shall serve to transfer from Mondaq to you, any Intellectual Property Rights owned by and/or licensed to Mondaq and all rights, title and interest in and to such Intellectual Property Rights will remain exclusively with Mondaq and/or its licensors.

Mondaq shall use its reasonable endeavours to make the Website and Services available to you at all times, but we cannot guarantee an uninterrupted and fault free service.

Mondaq reserves the right to make changes to the services and/or the Website or part thereof, from time to time, and we may add, remove, modify and/or vary any elements of features and functionalities of the Website or the services.

Mondaq also reserves the right from time to time to monitor your Use of the Website and/or services.


The Content is general information only. It is not intended to constitute legal advice or seek to be the complete and comprehensive statement of the law, nor is it intended to address your specific requirements or provide advice on which reliance should be placed. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers make no representations about the suitability of the information contained in the Content for any purpose. All Content provided "as is" without warranty of any kind. Mondaq and/or its Contributors and other suppliers hereby exclude and disclaim all representations, warranties or guarantees with regard to the Content, including all implied warranties and conditions of merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, title and non-infringement. To the maximum extent permitted by law, Mondaq expressly excludes all representations, warranties, obligations, and liabilities arising out of or in connection with all Content. In no event shall Mondaq 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 of the Content or performance of Mondaq’s Services.


Mondaq may alter or amend these Terms by amending them on the Website. By continuing to Use the Services and/or the Website after such amendment, you will be deemed to have accepted any amendment to these Terms.

These Terms shall be governed by and construed in accordance with the laws of England and Wales and you irrevocably submit to the exclusive jurisdiction of the courts of England and Wales to settle any dispute which may arise out of or in connection with these Terms. If you live outside the United Kingdom, English law shall apply only to the extent that English law shall not deprive you of any legal protection accorded in accordance with the law of the place where you are habitually resident ("Local Law"). In the event English law deprives you of any legal protection which is accorded to you under Local Law, then these terms shall be governed by Local Law and any dispute or claim arising out of or in connection with these Terms shall be subject to the non-exclusive jurisdiction of the courts where you are habitually resident.

You may print and keep a copy of these Terms, which form the entire agreement between you and Mondaq and supersede any other communications or advertising in respect of the Service and/or the Website.

No delay in exercising or non-exercise by you and/or Mondaq of any of its rights under or in connection with these Terms shall operate as a waiver or release of each of your or Mondaq’s right. Rather, any such waiver or release must be specifically granted in writing signed by the party granting it.

If any part of these Terms is held unenforceable, that part shall be enforced to the maximum extent permissible so as to give effect to the intent of the parties, and the Terms shall continue in full force and effect.

Mondaq shall not incur any liability to you on account of any loss or damage resulting from any delay or failure to perform all or any part of these Terms if such delay or failure is caused, in whole or in part, by events, occurrences, or causes beyond the control of Mondaq. Such events, occurrences or causes will include, without limitation, acts of God, strikes, lockouts, server and network failure, riots, acts of war, earthquakes, fire and explosions.

By clicking Register you state you have read and agree to our Terms and Conditions