Forum: Does Cayman's model still work for Caymanians?

The local panel at this year’s Fidelity Cayman Economic Outlook conference on Feb. 5 will debate whether Cayman’s existing model is truly sustainable and will discuss the notions of a widening inequality faced by Cayman’s society. 

Organizers said the choice of topic does not necessarily reflect their belief that the model is broken, but simply that it is a good time to ask the question.  

Tom Gammage, vice president at Fidelity Cayman said, “I think there is a perception that there is a widening inequality between the haves and have-nots in society. There is consistently high unemployment, not compared to bigger economies, but for Cayman historically it is quite high unemployment. We have seen a rise in crime, and there have been a few matters in the press recently.” 

Mr. Gammage referred specifically to the disappointing response to the tourism employment initiative by the Cayman Islands Tourism Association and the National Workforce Development Agency, and the education gap between work applicants and the jobs that are available. 

“You have got this dynamic of a widening gap and ‘is the Cayman model broken?’ is a worthwhile question to ask,” he said. 

The discussion will be moderated by Steve McIntosh, CEO of CML Offshore Recruitment. The panelists are yet to be confirmed. 

Fidelity’s annual conference seeks to educate, inform and provoke the local community, including politicians and business leaders, organizers said. The conference theme this year is “Think Growth – global opportunities, can we compete?” 

“Our world is evolving at an amazing pace, leaving us with many questions about the future,” noted Anwer Sunderji, chairman and chief executive of the Fidelity group of companies. “There is a greater level of global, financial, political and economic uncertainty than ever before and the way we do business is changing. Our most trusted institutions in business, healthcare, government and philanthropy are struggling to keep pace – their scale and bureaucracy that were previously strengths have become liabilities in an era of change.  

“Fidelity’s Cayman Economic Outlook seeks to draw insights from international experts to assist us to connect the dots and adapt to a new way of working that embraces this ever present undercurrent of uncertainty”.  

Scott Elphinstone, director of Fidelity Group and managing director of Five Continents, said, “Recognizing the massive impact of the global economy on our Cayman-based businesses, Fidelity and its event partners are eager to bring the insights of leading global thinkers to the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands and engage local business and individuals in taking a view on the global forces impacting their lives and competing for our market share.”  

He noted that the local economy is poised for change with a recent return to surplus budgets and the much improved financial position of the country, the varied impacts of the opening of Cuba, declining oil prices, and the continued rapid development of industry.  

“There is a clear need to focus on how we can better the position The Cayman Islands for the future,” Mr. Elphinstone said. “In a time of constant change, the inability to adapt is really a liability.”  

This conference will start off with Premier Alden McLaughlin’s state of the nation address and his projections for the coming year.  

He will be followed by The World Economic Forum Young Global Leader, Irish economist, journalist, author and broadcaster David McWilliams, who will explore what’s next for Europe, the U.S. and Asia in his predictions for economic health in 2015.  

Pamela Meyer, fraud detection expert and author, will share a new perspective on relationships, management and communication. Business Insider named Ms. Meyer one of 54 Smart Thinkers everyone should follow on Twitter.  

Aaron Dignan, digital strategist and founding partner of Undercurrent, will provide his advice on creating truly responsive organizations and what can be learned from today’s fastest growing and most impactful companies.  

The final international speaker is Mike Walsh, futurist and author. He is the CEO of innovation research lab, Tomorrow. He advises leaders on how to thrive in the era of disruptive technological change. He will share insights into the deliberate business design decisions smart leaders are making today.  

Fidelity Cayman’s forum sponsor partners are Campbells, Consolidated Water, Dart, Evolving Island, Five Continents Financial Ltd., Guardian Group, IRG, Pricewaterhouse Coopers and Royal Star Assurance. 

The conference will be held at The Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman. Registration fee is $490 and group discounts are available.  

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