Firstly i’d like to thank the Chairman and the Isle of Man Wealth and Funds Association for inviting me to speak a little about the Isle of Man.
I know the Island has had a rather turbulent week, but I am confident that the Financial Services Industry will weather this storm and face the challenges it brings just as it has with many others over the years. The Island’s motto – Quocunque Jeceris Stabit, “whichever way you throw, it will stand” has a particular resonance today.
Turning to Financial Services on the Isle of Man, the industry continues to see success, contributing £1.6bn to the Manx economy which represents 37.5% of our GDP.
Collectively, in recent years our financial services industry has faced significant changes and challenges but has adapted well to shifting market requirements and changes in legislation and policy.
Much of this uncertainty has been driven from external activities such as banking reform, insurance general principals, beneficial ownership, combating financial crime, the recent MoneyVal assessment and of course Brexit – and Government has worked with industry to understand the support needed to make the necessary adaptations to address these changes.
We have recently worked with the Isle of Man Wealth and Funds Association (IOMWFA) to put into force a new exemption for specialist fund managers, asset managers and investment advisers and supported the opening of The International Stock Exchange on the Isle of Man, which already has it’s first member firm.
The DED has also been working closely with IOMWFA over the last 5 years supporting promotional activity through a series of events in the UK and abroad. This has improved awareness of the Isle of Man as an international business centre, with this year’s BVCA dinner series increasing exposure around the UK.
The Island’s wealth and funds services community allows positive working relationships across the span of fund managers, CSPs, investment managers etc. It’s encouraging to see the continuing engagement with Government on key issues, successes and concerns for the sector and the wider Isle of Man economy.
Looking to the Future – Our commitment to a diverse economy includes the continued innovation and diversification in our financial services sector.
While the funds sector has seen a decrease in recent years, we are seeing small positive signs of growth in areas such as regulated funds (which have seen growth of +8.25% in Q2 of this year) and the establishment of a number of new funds.
It’s important that the Isle of Man has the people it needs to support this growth and success of our businesses. We continue to face a need for skilled workers across the breadth of our economy and financial services is no different.
To address this, as a Government we are looking at a strategy that encompasses skills training for our local talent and we now have 15 apprenticeship schemes which have seen a 60% increase in apprentices over the last 4 years. Attracting more skilled workers to our island remains key and initiatives such as reforming work permits to simplify and streamline the process and the employee relocation incentive are part of our strategy.
More generally – Our commitment to a diverse economy includes the continued innovation and diversification across our sectors and the nurturing of entrepreneurial talent.
The Department strongly encourages and supports businesses across all sectors – our £50m Enterprise Development Scheme has 6 deals now completed with a total investment of over £1.8m. There are 38 enquiries still in the pipeline with lots of opportunities for on and off-island businesses to take advantage of this scheme, which sits alongside our other long standing financial assistance schemes.
The Isle of Man recently implemented new regulations for banking licences, aptly named the Alternative Banking Regime and new regulations supporting the establishment of on-island Crowdfunding platforms.
Programme for Government commits to developing an ‘Island of Enterprise and Opportunity’ where local entrepreneurship is supported and thriving and more new businesses are choosing to call the Isle of Man home.
To that end, we have been steadily building an infrastructure conducive to attracting businesses that operate within a globally vibrant arena both to attract new businesses whilst also nurturing local enterprise.
As some of you will be aware – The Department intends to change its name to the Department for Enterprise this year which signals a clear emphasis on supporting enterprise in line with the ‘Programme for Government’s’ national ambition to be ‘An Island of Enterprise and Opportunity’
The changes will see the creation of four new Business Development Agencies – Finance, Digital, Business and Visit.
Focusing on the new finance agency – this will focus on promotion and facilitating product development, with a much stronger emphasis on ensuring a range of support mechanisms together with ensuring clear pathways are in place for on-Island businesses to grow. It will also enable more targeted activity in the City and work with existing and new contacts to develop new partnerships.
We recognise the significance and vital importance of our international financial and professional services sector and the new focus will enable even closer industry working, playing a major part in forming and promoting strategies to increase growth and drive success for the Isle of Man.
Within the agency professional bodies like the Isle of Man Wealth and Funds Association, will continue to play a major part in forming and promoting industry specific strategies to oversee performance and delivery of growth in this sector.
Together we can drive major decisions that will not only benefit our financial sectors but also our international reputation and success more generally.
The Isle of Man Wealth and Funds Association is an essential part of the security and future-proofing of this important sector and I thank them for their continued commitment. It’s heartening to see such a broad range of representatives here today.
As we’ve seen from statements issued this week by organisations such as the OECD, the Isle of Man is well regarded internationally for its compliance and adoption of new standards.
Being named Best International Finance Centre at last month’s International Investment Fund and Product Awards shows the Isle of Man is well placed to continue serving a growing global demand for high quality and transparent international financial and professional services.
Together we can position the Isle of Man as the home of innovative and ambitious financial services and fully realise our potential as a world-class international business centre.