Guernsey is a prestigious financial services centre, according to wealth management practitioners at this year's STEP conference in South Africa.
Fiona Le Poidevin, Chief Executive of Guernsey Finance - the promotional agency for the Island's finance industry, led a delegation to South Africa last week, which included exhibiting at the event in Johannesburg.
Miss Le Poidevin said it was encouraging to find that many wealth management practitioners view Guernsey as a prestigious jurisdiction due to its heritage in financial services.
"There was a real sense in South Africa that Guernsey is the 'place to go' for wealth management services and an acknowledgement that our heritage in financial services has created infrastructure and expertise which just cannot be found in other jurisdictions.
"For example, Mauritius, which has an extensive network of Double Taxation Arrangements, is frequently used for special purpose vehicles, holding companies and general administration. However, it is widely recognised that Guernsey's history has helped it build much greater substance to the extent that Guernsey trusts and corporate structures have a certain esteem about them in South Africa and we are able to offer a different proposition," she said.
During her time in Johannesburg last week Miss Le Poidevin had a series of meetings with wealth management practitioners and professional services firms in the city and attended the STEP conference at the Sandton Convention Centre. Local finance industry members joining her at the conference were Paul Ockleford from Willow Trust, Rex Cowley from Overseas Pensions and Paul Woodland from Sovereign Trust. Konrad Friedlaender from Carey Olsen also attended the event.
Miss Le Poidevin added: "Across all four key pillars of Guernsey's finance industry - banking, investment funds, wealth management and captive insurance - there are long and strong links with South Africa. However, there are currently some particular opportunities which are opening up.
"Principally these are in the more traditional areas of using trust and company structures for asset protection and wealth planning but, we have also introduced foundations, which can also be used for philanthropic purposes. Guernsey has also been innovative in introducing a world-first image rights law and register and the first aircraft registry in the Channel Islands. There are also opportunities in the overseas pensions space, particularly through providing corporate international pensions.
"South Africa also acts a gateway to the wider continent of Africa where there are a growing number of natural resources companies seeking to raise fresh investment from global capital markets. Guernsey specialises in providing a hub for these firms to list on international stock exchanges, including the Channel Islands Securities Exchange, the Main Market, AIM and Specialist Fund Market of the London Stock Exchange and the Johannesburg Stock Exchange.
"Guernsey Finance will be supporting industry to ensure that all the opportunities opening up in South Africa and the wider African economies are maximised for the benefit of the local economy."
For more information about Guernsey's finance industry please visit www.guernseyfinance.com.
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