It has been a busy year for Cayman Finance as it continues to work towards its remit of protecting, promoting, developing and growing the Cayman Islands financial services industry. This year has seen the 4th annual New York breakfast briefing, speeches and panels at many local and international conferences, interviews with prominent news organisations such as the BBC and Bloomberg, joint efforts with the Cayman Islands Government and much more. Cayman Finance will continue to ensure the Cayman Islands retains its position as a world-class, premier global financial hub.

Mr Scott traveled to New York for a media roadshow in January, where he met and interviewed with The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg Radio and Reuters. The focus of the trip to New York was Cayman Finance's fourth annual New York Breakfast Briefing held at the Harvard Club of New York City. Over 150 attendees from New York and Cayman met to hear the latest developments within the industry. Speakers were Mr Scott, the Hon. Wayne Panton, then Minister of Financial Services, Commerce and Environment, Heather Smith, Head of Investments and Securities Division at Cayman Islands Monetary Association, and Carlos Arena, Director for Business Development for R3, a FinTech development company.

In an effort to strengthen the relationship between the Cayman Islands and China, Cayman Finance hosted the Chinese Ambassador to the United Kingdom in January for a high level discussion on the industry along with the Ministry of Financial Services and the Governor's Office. A strong focus on the United Kingdom continued this year as the ramifications of Brexit continue to loom, preparations for the EU's 'blacklist' culminated in Cayman being listed as a cooperative jurisdiction and new beneficial ownership laws came into effect in July that introduced technology-based system enhancements to Cayman's existing 15 year old beneficial ownership regime.

Cayman Finance CEO, Jude Scott, visited London in July and twice in November to maintain existing relationships and discuss these important issues with key stakeholders including AIMA, The CityUK, HMRC and IFC Forum, as well as media such as Financial Times, Wall Street Journal and International Accounting Bulletin and NGOs such as Transparency UK and Tax Justice Network. The trip in July was Mr Scott's first joint international trip with the new Minister of Financial Services and Home Affairs, Hon. Tara Rivers.

During Mr Scott's last trip to London in November, he spoke on a panel at the 6th Annual OffshoreAlert Europe Conference about the recent illegal data hack of a prominent law firm. On the panel, Mr Scott reinforced the fact that, unsurprisingly, no illegal activity relating to Cayman was reported within the acquired documents. Cayman meets or exceeds globally-accepted standards for transparency and cross border cooperation on exchange of tax information, and is therefore at the forefront of regulatory and tax compliance and information exchange. These facts were further reinforced by Cayman's 'largely compliant' rating from the OECD and its inclusion as a 'cooperative' jurisdiction on the EU's list of cooperative and non-cooperative tax jurisdictions. The detailed findings of the OECD report show the vital role Cayman's financial services industry plays as a strong international partner in combatting corruption, money-laundering, terrorist financing and tax evasion.

In addition, Cayman topped the Paris MoU White Flag list in June, along with 41 other countries. The white list was a representation of quality flags with a consistently low detention record. Cayman also was rated the #1 Specialised Financial Centre for the ninth consecutive year in The Banker Magazine's 2017 survey.

Mr Scott participated in a wide range of local and global conference's this year. Aside from the already mentioned Offshore Alert Europe Conference, Mr Scott also spoke at the PwC Alternative Investments Seminar, Cayman Alternative Investments Summit, Fidelity CEO Conference, the Ministry of Financial Services' Tax Transparency in the Global Financial Services Ecosystem conference, STEP Caribbean Conference, Mare Forum Shipping and Yachting Summit, Campbells' Fund Focus Conference, Mourant Ozannes' International Trusts & Private Client Conference and the Hedge Fund Association's 2017 Global Regulatory Briefing.

Cayman Finance also had an exhibitor presence at numerous other events. Cayman Finance hosted its own joint information seminar on the UK's Criminal Finance Bill, in partnership with UK HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC), in March. The seminar was opened by Her Excellency the Governor, Helen Kilpatrick and had over 110 attendees.

Our Public Awareness Committee (PAC) was busy this year, especially with organising the third annual Cayman Finance Student Education Programme. This year, 62 students successfully completed all three aspects of the programme: classroom workshops, mentorship training from a senior member of the industry and a one month work experience position at Cayman Finance member firms and select Government organisations across the island.

In total, there were 66 mentors trained from 17 organisations, and 27 organisations volunteered work experience positions. Thirty-five workshop facilitators from 12 organisations came on board to present, organise and host the workshops. The 8 participating schools were Cayman Academy, Cayman Prep and High School, Grace Christian Academy, Hope Academy, Layman E. Scott High School, St. Ignatius Catholic School, Triple C School and the University College of the Cayman Islands.

The programme was developed in partnership with the now Ministry of Education, Youth, Sports, Agriculture and Lands and the Ministry of Financial Services and Home Affairs. It is just one of the ways Cayman Finance seeks to connect with young talented Caymanians who may have future careers in the industry.

Another way Cayman Finance pursues this goal is through presence at career fairs across the islands. This year, Cayman Finance had a booth at the Layman E. Scott High School Career Fair, the Chamber of Commerce Career Expo and the Cayman Academy Career Fair. At each fair, a quiz on the financial services industry was distributed to students, with three lucky students randomly winning prizes for answering all questions correctly.

Cayman Finance also gave presentations to legal interns at both Walkers and Maples and Calder on the financial services industry, presenting the University age students with information they could take back to school with them and allowing them the chance to ask any questions they may have about the industry. PAC's final main commitment this year was a domestic awareness campaign. The campaign ran for about four months and was started in an effort to raise general awareness about what the industry does and its impact on the local community, economy and general wellbeing of Cayman's population.

As part of the campaign, PAC members gave presentations to various organisations, associations and businesses within many different sectors. Key messaging was also spread across print, radio, TV and cinema advertisements, as well as a social media campaign on Facebook and Twitter and a dedicated website just for the campaign.

Leading up to this year's national political election, Cayman Finance met with election candidates to ensure they understood the importance of the financial services industry and the need to protect and properly fund it so it can continue to serve our country. Cayman Finance once again congratulates all elected members and looks forward to working together in the future.

Cayman Finance was also busy on internal development, welcoming 19 new members and participating in a number of consultations, including: Guidance Notes on the Prevention and Detection of Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing in the Cayman Islands ("Guidance Notes"), the Electronic Transactions Law and The Monetary Authority (Administrative Fines) Regulations, 2017. Following the fact that FinTech is a key area of innovation for Cayman and in particular Cayman Finance, the Fintech Innovation Lab Working Group was founded this year, tasked with focusing on specific aspects of FinTech that fit synergistically within the Cayman business model, specifically smart FinTech regulation. Smart FinTech regulation will be the unlocking mechanism that allows the new technology to be successfully utilised within the financial services industry. The group's main focus has been creating a Cayman led Certified Digital Identity Platform to create identity ecosystem and a new digital industry.

Cayman Finance also developed a new logo, "Team Cayman" that represents the positive relationship between the financial services industry and the Cayman Islands. The logo incorporates elements of the traditional Cayman Finance logo combined with a traditional Cayman catboat.

As a whole, Cayman's financial services industry continued to focus on finding a balance between regulatory and commercial priorities while always adhering to the highest global standards. New legislation this year includes the Limited Liability Partnership Law, the Trusts (Amendment) Law and the Foundation Companies Law. Cayman Finance is proud to serve as the industry voice for the largest pillar of the Cayman Islands economy and looks forward to continuing our work in 2017 to fortify the Cayman brand and the brand of our financial services industry, both internationally and domestically. Following are just some of the highlights of what was an eventful and productive year.

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