Cayman crawls up financial league

| 21/10/2008

(CNS): Although the Cayman Islands may rank as the world’s fifth or sixth largest financial jurisdiction in some quarters, when it comes to one important competitive index Cayman is suffering from mid-table blues. However, but the island may rise up the league with a coordinated offence, and Mark Yeandle, Senior Consultant of the Z/Yen Group Limited, says the secret is in the marketing and branding.

A guest of the Cayman Islands Financial Service Association’s special lunch series, Yeandle managed the creation and publication of the Global Financial Centres Index (GFCI), which measures financial centres on competitive criteria rather than statistics, numbers of banks, financial institutions or even assets. The index is published by the City of London Corporation but examines more than 60 cities and jurisdictions and ranks them on the perceptions of thousands of senior financial professionals who use or work in them in terms of how competitive they are.

Speaking to an audience of government and financial sector representatives, Yeandle explained how his index works and what Cayman’s position in the latest survey — number 21 in the middle of the pack up from the previous ranking  of 25 — actually means. With London and New York out in front and Singapore and Hong Kong in third and fourth place, Yeandle said that this particular index is formed on the basis of research taken from a wide cross section of professional financial services experts from around the world. He explained that it is how they perceive each of the global financial centres based on living, working, investing and doing business in those places.

He said that because the index is heavily weighted towards the perceptions that exist about a particular jurisdiction rather than the number of hedge funds, captives or banks, for example, establishing a brand, or developing strong marketing strategies, was an important factor in climbing up the rankings of the GFCI. Yeandle added that all financial centres are heavily influenced by policy makers because of the various criteria, from the quality of life to the ease of recruitingthe right staff, which were all considered in the analysis. He also said the research has revealed that those responding in the survey considered the quality of the regulatory framework to be the most important factor measured for all jurisdictions.

Given the global situation, CIFSA said, this type of index was even more important because how people felt about doing business in a given jurisdiction would carry significant weight in tough times.

Alden McLaughlin, Minister with responsibility for the Financial Services Sector, said that while we must be aware of the differences between an index such as this and ones that are based on statistics that would rank Cayman very highly, this particular table illustrated the perennial problem for Cayman of misconceptions.

“This is not the same as other rankings and should not be confused with them as it is perception based and illustrates the longstanding issue for Cayman, which is the need to address misconceptions. We need to emphasise our role as a global player,” he added. “Given the current world financial situation, Cayman is likely to be in for some more bashing from the major onshore countries and a call for more regulation. We just have to continue to be resilient to this and keep the success that we had for the last 30 years going.”

Yeandle explained that Cayman’s position in relation to other offshore jurisdictions was favourable. Sitting behind Jersey and Guernsey, a hair ahead of the Isle of Man and well ahead of the other Caribbean offshore centres, Yeandle explained that Cayman is not measured in all of the different indexes that contribute to the overall competitive rating, so it ranked relatively well. “Brand Cayman is in pretty good shape but there are areas to work on for the future,” he said.

Although Yeandle was invited to Cayman specifically to give the special presentation at the Ritz Carlton, Ted Bravakis from the Portfolio of Finance and Economics said that the government and private sector bodies would be making the most of Yeandle’s visit over the next few days. Brevakis said a number of meetings had been organized to discuss with Yeandle how he felt Cayman could improve global perceptions about the jurisdiction through improved marketing and branding.

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