‘Build on strong points to continue to compete globally’

GUERNSEY must focus on what it does well to continue to compete globally, according to the outgoing chairman of the Guernsey Financial Services Commission.

Dr Cees Schrauwers, outgoing chairman of the Guernsey Financial Services Commission. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 30256170)
Dr Cees Schrauwers, outgoing chairman of the Guernsey Financial Services Commission. (Picture by Sophie Rabey, 30256170)

Drs Cees Schrauwers said Guernsey is in the right time zone internationally, straddling key jurisdictions, speaks English, the dominant language used in finance, has common law, fair courts, a skilled workforce and infrastructure.

‘Common law allows you to be flexible and adaptable. I was brought up in Code Napoleon. If it’s not in the book, it cannot be done. That is not the case with the common law system,’ said Drs Schrauwers, who is originally from the Netherlands.

‘That is not well understood, how important the legal system is in doing business. If you want the new product, you can under common law. Most of the time you can’t under Code Napoleon – and the whole of Europe has Code Napoleon.

‘Then also if it all goes wrong, business people want to be sure that the courts are fair. So incorruptible courts are another very important element of Guernsey and therefore as a good place to do business.

‘It’s the human scale of the island which helps do the business, a very important part of that success. And then the skilled workforce – people know about their business – and of course, while the island is still upgrading its technical infrastructure, it has a very workable one.’

But he stressed that the island needed to build on its strong points to continue to compete internationally, with the finance industry playing a critical role in Guernsey’s economy.

‘I read also in your paper about holidays and people come to the islands on holiday. That is minute compared with financial services. I think it’s at least 10 to one,’ added Drs Schrauwers, a regular reader of the Guernsey Press.

‘Anything happening in that particular area, financial services, is so much more important for the island, the tax take. Employment – you can just list it. But that also means that you need to focus on what you’re good at. Address where you’re weak, but you will never win by just addressing what you’ve weak at.

‘You need to build on what you’re good at.’

The fiduciary and insurance sector – the largest this side of the Atlantic – were just two areas of Guernsey’s finance industry that were strong, he noted.

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