Jan Spiering's interest in cultivating fund success in Bermuda is based around his faith in the expertise of the Bermudian financial sector and a genuine love for the country. He says that the chairmanship of the International Business Forum allows, "the opportunity to dedicate my time to a very worthwhile cause the future success of a country I call home." The group is comprised of international business and government leaders who meet regularly in an effort to assist future economic growth in Bermuda.
Bermuda's long-term business aim has always been to provide investors with the security they desire while still allowing promoters to respond to market opportunities in a quick and cost effective manner and it is this ambition that lies at the core of the IBF's approach to its duties. The light but effective regulation employed by the domicile has helped it to become one of the world's premier offshore financial centres and Spiering is determined to preserve Bermuda's enviable reputation as the offshore domicile with the safest pair of hands.
This commitment to excellence is maintained via the IBF's close relationship with government and the domicile's belief in a cycle of quality that starts with the customer. Spiering says, "one of the key requirements of international bodies is that of 'knowing your customer.' Bermuda has always adopted this approach in its banking and other investmentrelated business and as such is a step ahead of other offshore jurisdictions who followed this jurisdiction's lead in implementing appropriate legislation to meet these demands."
Bermuda's concern about the standard of business operating within its boundaries extends to its treatment of customers once they have reached the necessary quality threshold. There exists a tailored response to the customer's level of financial expertise and the IBF will make sure that whatever their level of involvement the Bermudian investor will be looked after. Spiering says, "Bermuda recognizes the need to provide regulation to protect the less informed investor, but also to allow a promoter to set up a fund targeted at sophisticated or accredited investors with certain regulatory provisions relaxed provided specific requirements are met."
An innovative approach to the application of legislation has overseen a substantial growth in the domicile's fund services industry. This growth not only covers the registration of collective investment schemes but has also seen Bermudian expertise provide professional services to funds registered in other jurisdictions. Perhaps the secret of the financial services industry's success is the way the regulatory authorities and the private sector work together to design new legislation that is responsive to the needs of the industry. Spiering says: "As a member of the Bermuda Associations Collective Investment Scheme Committee, I, together with others in the industry, have had an active role in shaping the legislative developments of the fund industry. The goal of the committee is to obtain consensus of Bermuda's vision as a collective investment scheme domicile while concurrently continuing to make Bermuda a more competitive jurisdiction by improving legislation.
Although the domicile does offer conventional offshore encouragements in the form of no income tax and no profit tax this will not distinguish it from it's offshore financial rivals. Bermuda's selling points are it's infrastructure and radical approach to legislation. This means the domicile can cope with the increased sophistication of the market place through a commitment to high quality business and a willingness to recruit the relevant personnel, train existing staff and invest in the cutting edge technology to cope with new products.
This commitment to modernising the business infrastructure and establishing a legal legislative framework is demonstrated in the IBF and government reaction to the arrival of e-commerce as a business force to be reckoned with. Spiering says, "clearly e-commerce will have a dramatic impact on the way business gets done. The offshore funds services industry is no exception; indeed there is evidence of the Internet revolutionising the industry." Bermuda is preparing to take a leading role in this revolution and the establishment of a partnership between Hedge World Limited and the Bermuda Stock Exchange implies that the domicile has struck a lucrative balance between legislation and fiscal attractiveness.
Spiering says, "with the passage into the law of the Electronics Transactions Act Bermuda has positioned itself at the forefront of the world in terms of recognising in legislative terms not only the importance of e-business but the need to establish a proper legal framework in which to conduct it."
The Electronics Transactions Act represents a major coup for the island and sets Bermuda up as a serious e-commerce zone. In an age where technological advancements are made and then overtaken by new ones in months, being the first out of the blocks on any new development is a critical prerequisite for gaining a competitive advancement. The legislation has performed the duty for the domicile and is having the desired effect. Rapid evolution has always marked Bermuda's approach to funds and the arrival of the Internet has given the domicile another area to excel in.
Spiering and the IBF know that Bermuda's healthy relationship with its private sector is the source of much of this success and because a significant portion of the island's business is derived from a 'spoilt for choice' international sector the future of the island's economic growth is dependent on continued cordial relations.
Spiering wants the best for his adopted home and believes that the voluntary nature of the IBF shows that commitment of international expertise to Bermuda is genuine. He says, "the challenge, of course, is to ensure that the IBF's work progresses and it's goals are achieved while, at the same time, managing the availability of some of our busiest people."
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