Referring to suggestions made by the Leader of Government Business McKeeva Bush that Cayman’s immigration policy should be reconsidered; the chairman of newly formed Cayman Finance Anthony Travers said the financial services industry organisation would ‘strongly advocate that review which is overdue’.
In a speech held at the anti-money laundering, compliance and financial crime conference on Friday Mr Travers outlined the policy positions of Cayman Finance.
He called for a new focus on the development of a local financial infrastructure and the necessary personnel to operate a more sophisticated financial services industry, including investment banking, broker dealers, fund investment and more labour intensive fund management and administration.
He argued that ‘it is highly unlikely in the foreseeable future that the volume of transactional flows will return to the levels experienced pre Leman Brothers.’
In order to maintain both public and private sector revenues, the Cayman Islands financial industry would therefore have to obtain greater revenue from fewer transactions.
The Cayman Islands could only attract more sophisticated financial services if Cayman’s immigration policy was changed, he concluded.
‘There can be no doubt that the application of the roll over policy and the administration of the grant of work permits has had a very negative bearing on the fund administration industry in the Cayman Islands with trickle down negative implications for the real estate industry and job opportunities for Caymanians,’ Mr Travers said.
He referred to remarks made by the Leader of Government Business at several public engagements over the past weeks, most recently at the opening of the Fidelity Financial Centre, where Mr Bush stated that, ‘immigration must change’.
Mr Bush said that too much of the financial services industry had already relocated to Nova Scotia, Ireland and other parts of Europe.
It would be necessary to allow sufficient people into Cayman to build a stronger industry, capable of withstanding the next economic downturn, he concluded.
Earlier at the Cayman Fund Focus conference Mr Bush had announced that changes to the immigration regime would be made within a few weeks to make it easier for companies to recruit the staff they need.
In his speech Mr Travers described two alternative scenarios for the Cayman Islands. An economic model that refrains from enhancing and promoting the financial services industry and focuses solely on tourism would only generate a budget of $150 million per year or less than a quarter of its current size, he stated.
Saying that no financial industry in history has been able to maintain the status quo, he argued that ‘if the financial industry is not moving forward with the full support of the Cayman Islands Government within a broad spectrum of supporting initiatives then it is moving backwards.’
At the same time Mr Travers sought to reassure Caymanians that ‘there is nothing in the recommendations of Cayman Finance with regard to matters of immigration that will not operate in the best long term interests of young Caymanians seeking opportunity in the financial services industry.’