That was the message from Gillian Browning, director of the Guernsey Financial Services Commission’s investment, fiduciary and pensions division, at the at the 2022 Guernsey Funds Forum in London
‘Guernsey hopes it will be at the leading edge of the sustainable and social investment agenda,’ she said.
‘To date, we have had more of a focus on the environmental space and we have always been strong on the governance, which has been the bread and butter of Guernsey’s financial services for years.’
She was part of a panel debate discussing the definition of sustainability and the range of regulatory environments in the UK and Europe.
Challenges in the sector include the lack of data, which makes it hard to be confident of the impact of sustainable investment. There is increased awareness of the pitfalls that exist following the fall-out of the first cleantech boom, when more than 50% of funds failed.
A second panel session focused on opportunities in technology. Among the panel was Deputy Sasha Kazantseva-Miller who spoke on the development of the value of digital assets.
‘If someone sees value in a digital asset we want to look at it, and because we are an independent government, we can regulate and legislate and make sure the right controls are in place to protect investors and meet global standards, anti-money laundering, anti-bribery, corruption and follow principles of good investment.”
Deputy Kazantseva-Miller also discussed the direction of travel of technological developments in Guernsey.
‘We are tiny, but we are mighty,’ she said. ‘When you look at the regulatory approach, what government is doing and the close cooperation with industry, we can be nimble and agile.
‘We need to continue providing innovative products, we have a healthy risk appetite but we take it seriously and we do it well.’
The panel concluded that the intersection of ESG and technology requires focus because of potential unintended consequences of technology. They agreed that further work in this area will pay dividends.
Keynote speaker was author and economist Dharshini David, who said that there were still opportunities, even in particularly troubled times.
She referenced the pandemic, the war in Ukraine – which has exacerbated the energy crisis – and commodity price hikes which have contributed to the creation of an unstable global picture.
‘Out of crisis comes innovation – there is light at the end of the tunnel,’ she said.