THE GIBRALTAR FINANCE CENTRE (GFC) Division was established within the Department of Trade and Industry on 1 July 1997. Anthony Fisher, Gibraltar’s first Finance Centre Director, under the direction of Minister for Trade and Industry Peter Montegriffo, was responsible for setting up the showcase offices in the modern business complex of Europort. The new premises were officially opened by HRH the Duke of Kent on 2 July 1998.

GFC is essentially the nerve centre for all activities involving the financial services sector on the Rock (except regulation, which is the remit of Gibraltar’s independent regulator, the Financial Services Commission - The GFC premises, which include a spacious conference room, act as a meeting place for all the various industry associations as well as their umbrella body, the Finance Centre Council.

GFC acts as the first point of contact for new financial services businesses wishing to establish a presence on the Rock. One important development to further the concept of GFC as a ‘one-stop shop’ was the move on 4 October 1999 of the Licensing Unit to adjacent offices in Europort. The Unit is responsible for issuing certificates to tax-exempt and qualifying companies, and qualifying individuals.

Qualifying (Category Two) Individual status (formerly known as ‘high-net worth individuals’) is a particularly popular facility which generates a large number of enquiries. Applicants are now able to access all the necessary information and application forms under one roof.

In addition to the above-mentioned functions, GFC, under James Tipping, who took over from Mr Fisher as Finance Centre Director on 1 October 1999, is charged with marketing, strategic planning, product development and training initiatives.

Gibraltar’s financial centre is constantly evolving. Recent trends include the establishment on the Rock of a number of Swiss portfolio managers, the commencement of direct trading on Eurex, the German/Swiss financial futures exchange, and the promotion of Gibraltar as a domicile for securitisation.

In the important sphere of regulation, investors can rest assured that the Rock’s financial services are regulated to the highest standards. A Deposit Protection Scheme came into effect on 5 April 1999 and an Investor Protection Scheme will follow. As part of the European Union, Gibraltar implements all relevant EU directives, but the Financial Services Commission goes further by regulating the industry to UK standards.

Such is the reputation that Gibraltar has acquired in recent years that it is increasingly being referred to as a regulatory benchmark for other jurisdictions. In fact, the Edwards report referred to Gibraltar as a point of comparison when making reference to the various changes that other centres will be required to introduce in the area of financial services regulation. We invite you to find out more about what the Gibraltar financial services industry has to offer.

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.