Today’s Editorial for November 17: A scary new world

Premier McKeeva Bush has found out firsthand what many in the financial services industry already knew: Cayman is no longer the only girl at the ball, and is, in fact, not the prettiest anymore either.

Travelling in the United States with the so-called road show on a series of networking events aimed at promoting Cayman’s financial services industry, Mr. Bush said his team found it ‘tough going’.

We don’t doubt it.

In the post-apocalyptic financial world brought about by the sub-prime meltdown, the ensuing credit crunch and the accompanying market crash, there’s been a shift in perception toward offshore financial centres.

Complain as we might that it is unfair to blame offshore centres for the global economic downturn, places like the Cayman Islands are easy scapegoats for industrialised countries.

The fact that Cayman has mismanaged its own government finances with out-of-control spending only supports the messages coming out of the US, the UK, Germany and other places.

The result of all of the ‘noise’, as Mr. Bush calls it, is that keeping existing investors and attracting new ones will be more difficult going forward.

Cayman can no longer remain an aloof belle sure that she can attract the biggest and best investors simply because of who she is. Cayman must now rely on things like personality, efficiency, utility and cost.

This is not to say that Cayman is no longer an attractive jurisdiction to investors; it just means the financial industry’s golden age here is over and things will come harder in the future.

It means that Cayman can no longer say it wants foreign investment and at the same time make foreigners feel unwelcome for coming here.

It means that Cayman has to realise that in a world where dozens of offshore and on-shore competitors are vying for financial services business, the only way to maintain or increase market share is to give the clients what they want, how and when they want it, and to do so in a friendly, efficient way that makes them want to be here.