Butterfield Bank CEO eyes expansion in CI
GUERNSEY stands out as having ‘one of the best regulatory regimes’ in the world, according to the head of an international bank.
Butterfield Bank chief executive officer Michael Collins also said that his bank was looking to expand in the Channel Islands as he sounded an optimistic note about the future of Guernsey and Jersey as offshore financial centres.
His comments come as some UK lawmakers have called for the Crown Dependencies to produce public beneficial ownership registers after controversial changes to the UK’s anti money-laundering bill will force British Overseas Territories to produce such registers by 2020.
‘Being an offshore bank, we recognise that our ticket to the game actually is to have better compliance than really pretty much all onshore banks,’ said Mr Collins, who is also chairman of Bermuda-headquartered Butterfield Bank.
‘All the offshore jurisdictions have a lot of similarities and I think Guernsey stands out, at least in my mind, as having certainty one of the best regulatory regimes [and] a well-run government. I think all that is well presented, actually, so I think people know that.’
Compliance was the ‘most important thing’ that Butterfield did – which included already reporting to 65 tax authorities around the world.
Continuing to explain how offshore finance centres encouraged capital flow around the world for ‘good reasons’ was also important.
‘Give it three to five years when the onshore world realises this platform is already built, and we’re giving everyone as much information as we can, I think some of the tensions will recede,’ added Mr Collins, who was in Guernsey this month for a group board meeting.
Praising ‘thoughtful’ regulation locally, he also said it was one of the reasons why Butterfield was looking to expand further in the Channel Islands.
‘You can have a relationship with the regulators, which you can’t often in other countries, so it’s a rational business model. We think it’s a great market, both Guernsey and Jersey.’
The bank recently bought Deutsche Bank’s banking business in Jersey, Guernsey and Cayman, and is now on the look-out for further acquisitions of trust companies and offshore subsidiaries of onshore banks that come up for sale.
‘In all likelihood, I think something will come on the market at some point and we’ll be a natural buyer and I can see the Channel Islands becoming a major part of our bank,’ said Mr Collins.
The islands’ position between the EU and the UK, in the middle of capital and trade flows, and an innate ability to be able to adapt were also positives for the future.
‘You’ll figure out a way to economically take advantage appropriately to the best of your abilities to benefit your people,’ added the Butterfield CEO.