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Guernsey changes the narrative at IBA International Private Client Conference 2019 – by Michael Betley

Guernsey changes the narrative at IBA International Private Client Conference

The annual International Bar Association’s (IBA) International Private Client Conference brings together professionals from across wealth planning including lawyers, accountants, private bankers and more. Trust Corporation International chairman Michael Betley attended the event and picked up on pro-Guernsey sentiment.

As a UK-hosted conference it is inevitable that a large proportion of the audience is from the UK, but the IBA conference lives up to its ‘international’ billing with attendees from all over the world; most notably Switzerland, US and, this year, a strong Guernsey contingent.

Most of the conference discussion centred around what could be labelled ‘wealth under attack’ – panels and attendees alike debated the ways in which wealth is held and the means by which it is protected.

The debate of onshore vs. offshore was another hot topic and a good chance for the Guernsey attendees to state our credentials and outline our position as a transparent, compliant and well-established International Finance Centre.

Our increasingly connected world, combined with the mobility of high net worth individuals, means that there are jurisdictional challenges around taxation, transparency and reputation that have to be managed by advisers and providers. Fortunately, Guernsey has a strong story to tell in this arena and the pedigree of the island’s practitioners speaks for itself.

The timing of the event coincided with the withdrawal of MPs Margaret Hodge and Andrew Mitchell’s amendment to the Financial Services Bill following discussions with political representatives from the Crown Dependencies. This presented another opportunity to discuss Guernsey’s sovereignty and reinforce the island’s credentials on compliance and transparency.

Guernsey’s strengths remain as they have been for a long time – established financial and professional services, good international standing and convenient geographical location – but there is a need to continue to change the narrative around the island away from tax and towards these strengths.

If we, as practitioners, keep talking about how we add value and expertise and perform a positive service for clients, then we can play a major role in changing the way Guernsey is perceived.

The future promises to be interesting for wealth management - the conference touched on emerging trends like philanthropy, evolving spousal arrangements and social values vs. monetary value – and Guernsey-based practitioners are perfectly placed to embrace new trends and continue to do excellent work.

If any of the issues discussed at the IBA International Private Client Conference are of interest/relevance to you or your clients and you would like to discuss them with us, please contact us on +44 1481 730430.