Over 100 financial services professionals in the British Virgin Islands, visiting guests and speakers from the United Kingdom, France, the United States, Dubai, Panama, Bahamas, Anguilla, St Kitts and Nevis, participated in the two-day, in-person, Global Currents financial services conference on 17-18 November.
The event honoured the legacy of now-retired BVI Financial Services Commission Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer, Dr Robert Mathavious, OBE. During the opening ceremony, Premier Hon Andrew Fahie
addressed the conference as did the current MD and CEO of the FSC, Mr Kenneth Baker. Keynote speeches were given by Mr Michael Riegels QC, former Partner of Harneys and the first Chairman of the BVI FSC, and by Dr Mathavious. The conference was chaired by Miss Dawn Smith, Attorney General.
According to a press release, topics covered included global tax in an era of increased nationalism, global Britain; talent management; trends in key markets; and centres of excellence, which all looked to the future of the Territory's financial services industry.
Conference Coordinator, Mrs Lorna Smith, OBE, commented on the significance of the conference, saying: "It was fitting to have such a conference to honour Robert's monumental contribution to our largest economic sector, in keeping with who he is. We were pleased that the conference looked ahead to continue the work of our internationally renowned industry."
The conference was the first major 'in person' forum for Crown Dependencies and Overseas Territories since the start of the COVID
-19 pandemic almost two years ago. Stressing the importance of this, Smith said, "It is a significant accomplishment for us to have hosted such a major conference at home in the BVI. COVID
-19 has impacted all areas of our lives, but this demonstrates our industry's commitment and determination to support our economy by ensuring BVI business keeps pace with the latest news and trends from leaders in the industry.
"We must also thank the Government – specifically Hon. Carvin Malone and Dr Ronald Georges for assisting us in manoeuvring through the various protocols to ensure a successful and COVID
Considering the complexities of work in the era of a global pandemic, the conference also successfully hosted industry professionals virtually and incorporated a moderator that hosted a panel from Hong Kong. The conference also featured two panelists from the United Kingdom and the US, all participating virtually.
Conference highlights included the Global Britain panel discussion at which panelists spiritedly discussed the inflection point at which Britain stands in its relationship with the world and its Overseas Territories' financial services business. The Centres of Excellence panel discussed the growth of digital assets and how the BVI can keep pace with such new business while maintaining a robust and well-respected regulatory framework. Eli Han of King & Wood and Mallesons (US) highlighted the critical part BVI Companies play in developing variable-interest entities in both the US and Chinese markets.
The Talent Management segment presented varying views on how to successfully recruit, manage and support the talent that is needed for today's financial services industry, but also provide the creative curiosity and analytical ability to forge the new for the industry and the BVI. The issue of leadership in the industry was another critical point discussed.
Based on comments from delegates, topics selected for the conference, along with the diversity of thought from industry experts, there was every indication that the Global Currents Conference was a top-tier conference experience.
Last week also saw the renaming of H. Lavity Stoutt Community College's (HLSCC) Financial Services Institute (FSI), an initiative of Dr Mathavious, renamed the Robert Mathavious Institute (RMI). Funds raised from the conference's events will be used for scholarships for residents wishing to enter the financial services industry or up-skilling through RMI.
Smith said the sector was generous in their willingness to honour Dr Mathavious and to push forward his legacy through training the next generation.
"The generosity of companies shown through this conference is yet another sign that our industry is strong and that we are looking ahead to secure the future of BVI global business."