RBC wealth management the future of offshore centres seminar
“With the recent hammering that offshore financial centres have taken from politicians worldwide mainly looking for an easy target to blame for the world’s financial ills, offshore financial centres have come under global press scrutiny and consequent external pressure. Whilst the OECD White Listing may be a yardstick to measure improvements, some in the wealth industry think it’s better if offshore financial centres stand steady and reassure investors that they are safe, compliant and do have the appropriate skill sets to manage financial services business.
RBC Wealth Management hosted an event addressing the issue “Is the offshore Financial Centre dead?” The view of the panel was that there are still many positives for the future of offshore financial centres.
Paul Patterson, chief executive of RBC Wealth Management in the British Isles, promoted the concept of “Compliant Confidentiality”. He felt it was an understood obligation that offshore financial centres ensure clients were tax compliant but at the same time it was essential that clients be able to take advantage of historic offshore confidentiality and discretion. He agreed with the zeitgeist of the industry that the aim should be to get away from the perception being fostered by politicians that those who wish for confidentiality have something to hide.
The panel spoke further on the topic of “flight to quality” saying a quality centre was defined as a jurisdiction with a sound capital base; strong reputation and recognised experts in the wealth sector underpinned by a strong judiciary. A strong legal system was felt necessary so that clients had recourse in the courts if there were problems.
In general the view put forward was that clients are looking for offshore jurisdictions that are developing to meet their needs in a turbulent world. RBC WM, who have a strong base in Jersey also fought the Jersey corner. Jersey Foundation Law was highlighted as an example of differentiating the jurisdiction and Michael Lagopoulos, President and CEO of the international arm of RBC Wealth Management said,” Jersey also tops the IMF Anti Money Laundering Compliance Tables.
As to whether the offshore financial centre is dead or not, the conclusion from the panel was that strong legal frameworks and financial infrastructure will be integral to offshore survival.”