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IFSA needs more funds for scholarship

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The International Financial Services Agency (IFSA) needs another $9,000 for its scholarship fund before it can start inviting applications for study in financial management.

Director, Louise Mitchell, said they have to raise $31,000 or the $40,000 required and even when they do raise the full amount, only one scholarship can be provided but the need is much greater.{{more}}

She said that there is a significant revenue potential to be had in providing value added service in the offshore sector but the major challenge is that the country lacks the skilled personnel.

About 80 per cent of the businesses operating in St Vincent and the Grenadines were International Business Companies (IBC) but the extent to which Vincentians typically can service these is by completing and filing paperwork for the formation of an IBC.

“That’s it, you set it up; end of your services; a one-off fee. If you, on the other hand, know how to advise a client as to what is the best asset protection mechanism for them, you advise them and say ‘for example well you need a St Vincent trust IBC but you need a Belize IBC trust for these reasons and also I believe a St. Vincent Mutual Fund would make sense given the amount of capital you have’. You need to have knowledge of several jurisdictions in order to offer advise to clients about their advantages. In order to give really good professional financial advice you have to be a skilled professional and go beyond simply providing the work of a registered agent,” she said.

One does not have to leave St Vincent to study as there are many online courses in financial management, offshore business management, mutual funds, and insurance and she is advising Vincentians to get onboard and fast.

Apart from having trained Vincentians, another route would be to try to attract law firms which offer value added services, such as tax advisory services, and which could hire and train locals.

A third option would be to attract foreign skilled workers. Even before the advent of free movement of skilled nationals under the Caribbean Single Market and Economy (CSME) St Vincent already had residency and citizenship laws that make it easy for professional people to live and work here.

“If you are a skilled professional who wants to bring your expertise to St Vincent and you have a clean background of integrity there is nothing standing in your way of getting residency. It is at the discretion of Cabinet.”

Major development

A fourth opportunity on which St Vincent can capitalise is the saturation of the major offshore Caribbean capitals – Cayman Islands and Bermuda. They are no longer renewing residency for foreign professionals who have been there for seven or more years, said Mitchell.

“They have essentially maxed out, they have no more real estate available, office space rent has skyrocketed, so these centres have peaked and we are seeking to take advantage of that because we can offer lower rates for office space; we can offer easier access to residency with much fewer restrictions. We are more open than those centres are”.

“The potential of industry is just absolutely huge. We have a jurisdiction that is clean, that is now known as having excellent regulatory standards in place, and a very good investment climate. There are no restrictions that would turn away the investor, for example we do not have exchange controls, there is easy movement of money. For persons who come to reside permanently we have excellent tax incentive laws; we don’t have capital gains tax, we do not have inheritance tax, so it is not only a good place for doing business on a temporary basis but a good place to migrate to and to permanently operate your financial services.”

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