The head of the body responsible for representing and promoting Jersey’s biggest industry told attendees at this month’s IoD Jersey lunch event (8th April) that the finance industry was the ‘best prospect’ for Jersey now and in the future given global economic and social trends.
In a talk entitled ‘First for Finance: current performance and future prospects for Jersey’s Finance Industry’, Geoff Cook, CEO, Jersey Finance, outlined to over 100 Jersey business leaders and politicians how the Island’s finance industry is performing and what initiatives are currently being undertaken to promote the industry in overseas markets. Discussing how global trends are impacting Jersey, Geoff said:
“Demand for financial services will continue to grow, driven by two of the most enduring and significant trends of the 20th and 21st centuries. The first trend is globalisation, and its impact on world trade. The second trend is population growth. These trends will see global demand for infrastructure investment increase by over $50trn by the year 2030, capital investment will reach new all-time highs, and it’s estimated the global asset management industry will grow to in excess of $100trn by 2020. We are already seeing in Jersey the post crisis surge in new real estate and infrastructure funds.”
He added that Jersey had a role to play in addressing global challenges prompted by these trends surrounding social and income inequality:
“As globalisation drives urbanisation, some gain more than others, and some lose out badly. Our response must be to engage with developing countries with the offer of help in capacity building, and we will fight any attempts to use our platform to extract illicit value from them. Our license to operate depends on delivering social good as well as profits.”
Pointing to the findings of the McKinsey and Capital Economics reports last year, he said that Jersey would benefit from the upside in the global economy:
“Our industry can grow in terms of employment and profitability. However, we need continuing political and fiscal stability and a government that backs one of the best governed IFCs on the planet. We also need an employment market that grows its own highly skilled talent, a population policy that permits, in appropriate circumstances, the importation of high value skilled workers from elsewhere to fill skills shortages, and an unrelenting focus on technology.
“Jersey’s finance industry serves the needs of the real global economy and real people. In a Jersey Finance survey that closed only last week, our members confirmed they plan to create 900 new jobs over the next five years targeting a minimum of 80% on Island recruitment. And yet our industry comprises only one quarter of Island jobs. It needs in relative terms fewer people to generate spend of more than £1m every day on local businesses, it pays for more than half of our public services and contributes a huge amount to the charitable sector.
“Finance is still the best prospect Jersey has for sustainable employment, for careers for our young people, for navigating the financial challenges of an ageing population, and for preserving and improving the natural and built environment of this beautiful Island. It is the best chance too of maintaining population at a sustainable level, whilst being able to afford all of the things that make Jersey special.”
Jason Laity, Chairman of the IoD Jersey, added:
“With the finance industry representing over 40% of Jersey’s entire economy, how Jersey responds at both a government and industry level to global political, economic and social trends is absolutely vital – not just for the 12,000 people who work in financial services, but also for the island as a whole. In this election year, I’m sure that how we can nurture our largest industry will continue to be a topic for discussion.”