On Monday 30th April offshore legal, fiduciary and administration services provider Appleby hosted their second Spring Seminar at the Manx Museum. Guests enjoyed a presentation entitled ‘The Isle of Man, An International Financial Centre: How to Win Friends and Influence People’ by Richard J Hay senior advisor to the IFC Forum and a partner at legal firm, Stikeman Elliott.
The seminar focused on how to “win the hearts and minds” of key legislators and decision makers in inter- and supra-national organisations. He began by stating that he felt the Isle of Man was in a strong position, with diversified sources of income, a good global standing and a recent ‘win’ against the EU Code of Conduct Group on zero-ten taxation. He explained the benefits of IFCs such as the Isle of Man to the international community and the role they play in providing a tax-neutral platform that encourages trade and investment between heterogeneous tax jurisdictions. By generating tax competition internationally, they also contribute an incentive for greater efficiency of government spending in other countries.
Our efforts to communicate these benefits, he argued, should probably ignore the “ideologues” at the tabloids and NGOs in favour of the “thousand or so” decision-makers who contribute to decisions made in forums such as the G20, which has become an increasingly important political platform. Richard believes we should be pointing out the impact that IFCs have had in promoting growth and breaking down corruption in the developing world to these decision makers, using Hong Kong’s impact on East Asia as a case study. In order to maintain its leading position, the Isle of Man must protect its tax neutrality, continue to look beyond Europe to new markets and demand and justify inclusion in the process of setting global standards, Mr Hay concluded. However, with international pressure increasing, it must engage with other IFCs in order to do so effectively.
Before introducing Mr Hay, Sean Dowling, Managing Partner of Appleby (Isle of Man) LLC also spoke of the changes that Appleby had undergone since its last seminar, in spring 2011. Internationally, Appleby has grown in existing markets and also opened offices in Shanghai, demonstrating its commitment to the east. Locally, Appleby has opened its new Athol street offices, launched new Aviation and Regulatory teams and made a number of key appointments, including Mark Holligan, who has joined as a litigation and insolvency partner, and Brian Johnson, former Director of Civil Aviation for the Isle of Man. The focus now, he said, was on making the Isle of Man a centre for excellence in the offshore world, offering the best combination of talent at the right price. At Appleby that has already begun, with a number of the group’s global directors of departments now permanently based on the Isle of Man.
Speaking after the event, Sean commented: “Richard has a huge amount of expertise in this area and I would like to thank him for providing such an enlightening presentation. He has clarified the hype versus the facts surrounding the international situation and there is now a clear duty placed on us – both in the private and public sectors – to communicate these facts on a global stage. As a company, we have made our commitment to that clear as evidenced by Appleby’s role in founding the IFC Forum, which offers a credible, third-party voice to represent the many jurisdictions we operate from globally.”
Mr Hay also commented: “The Isle of Man has done very well for itself up to now and has given real value back to the global economy in return. However, the goal that we should be striving for is greater collaboration between international financial centres – including ‘onshore’ centres such as London – in order to present a united front against international pressures. Together, we have to demonstrate the value that these centres offer in terms of financial intermediation between often incompatible tax jurisdictions. I would encourage others to get involved in promoting that message and generating cooperation in the same way that Appleby has.”
More information on the IFC Forum can be found at www.ifcforum.org