Travers criticises industry for past PR failures

| 12/07/2009

(CNS): Describing himself as not the sort of “chap that drives a Ferrari at 165 mph looking at the rear view mirror,” at a recent CIFSA diner, chair of the Association Anthony Travers took the financial sector to task for not investing in proper public relations initiatives in the past. He said that there was no doubt the private sector was at best extremely careless and possibly delinquent in the way it has handled the country ‘s and the industry’s international standing.

 Talking about the net revenues generated by the finance industry the Cayman Islands Financial Services Association (CIFSA) Chair said it was nothing but extremely careless, verging on delusional for people in the industry not to have spent just 1 or 2 percent of that income to ensure Cayman effectively positioned itself on the global stage through public affairs.

“If you leave a vacuum, as was left over the last three or four years, you can be assured that competitor jurisdictions, government’s short of revenue and politicians seeking to deflect blame from their own filed regulatory systems will fill that vacuum with negativity,” Travers said to a room full of people from the financial services business. “That is the situation that has arisen and so many of you have complained about.”

He said if you don’t aggressively assert your position through the media and through a concerted public affairs campaign you can be sure competitors will mischaracterise and misrepresent the Cayman Islands. He said although things were now improving, the jurisdiction was still more than 1460 days and about $10 million short of where we should have been.

He praised the new government for its enthusiasm for bi-lateral treaty negotiation and execution which he said had made a marked difference to Cayman’s standing in a very short period and noted that the government was in negotiations with eight other jurisdictions.

Lamenting the OECD ‘s approach—Travers said he was still confident that if Cayman has more treaties than any other offshore jurisdiction it should prevail before the September meeting. He also noted that  provided the Cayman Islands private sector continues to properly fund PR in the future things will continue to get better. He said he had been delighted with the access that Jack Quinn and Manuel Ortiz had given the Cayman Islands to Washington and the US media as he introduced the two men who were the guest speakers at the special C?IFSA diner held so that the PR gurus could update the sector on their work so far.

However, it was apparent from the presentation that their work on Capitol Hill remains in the early stages and that they had not yet been able to gain access to any more of the movers and shakers in Washington that previous delegations from Cayman had accessed. They did however point out that Travers had written an open letter to President Obama which gained media coverage along with a number of other letters, interviews and articles about Cayman and the financial industry across the international stage.

During his presentation Quinn made it clear to the audience that he understood the problem and that message that Cayman wanted to get out. Ortiz explained how they were going about getting that message out with media campaigns and lobbying of the movers and shakers. Ortiz also said they were keeping a keen eye on blogs and internet sites and were ready to respond. However, the Tax Justice website stated recently that it is still waiting for a response from Travers regarding an exchange on the site, (a well know blog that discusses all issues relating to global taxation), that centred around Cayman being a tax haven.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Many of those individuals who blocked past Cayman Islands governments’ attempts to prepare these Islands for the 21st Century financial services world are many of the same ones who are now saying "sign here, sign here, why did it take you so long?".  Many of the posters on this thread are correct – private business needs to focus on its business, spend to protect its business, and assist and support (rather than block) the government in those areas which private business truly does not understand.  Hopefully this lesson has now been hard learned and the future cooperation between Cayman’s government and private business will stand to gain in a big way.

  2. Anonymous says:

     Apologies I had meant to say TJN however what I actually posted was unclear I , it should have read 


    Any one who gives any credibility to those two disaffected souls who run the tax justice network should first spend half an hour reading the CIMA website .Then they can work out why  no one takes TJN seriously.™

  3. Anonymous says:
    It’s encouraging to see that the industry is finally taking the initiative, especially in the current economic and political climate. Mr. Travers pretty much summed it up when he said that if you leave a vacuum you can be sure someone will fill it with negativity. It’s public relations 101 – you have to be in the conversation to influence it. As Jack Quinn observed, the Cayman Islands have the truth on their side. It’s about time someone got it out there.
  4. Anonymous says:

    ‘Words! Words! Words! I’m so sick of words.’  As have been noted by others your words are not enough Mr Quinn and Mr Travers.  See

    Are you able to ‘show me’ any evidence this progress you claim to have made? Given that you are clearly not unbiased participants when your claims of success, some objective benchmark would be of particular valuable to us.  What are the actual factors that determine this success you claim? Further, how is this success weighed? 

  5. Anonymous says:

    The author of  Any one who gives any credibility would appear to be less than optimally informed or perhaps misguided or his or her assessment.

    One of the principals of the TJN had a major piece published in the financial journal which Mr. Ridley and his colleagues edit just a few days ago.

    It would seem that well informed people do take them seriously.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Interesting debate but to say that no one takes the CIMA website seriously seems a bit harsh.

    On the other hand, if the previous writer intended to question the relative degree of influence of the TJN, then perhaps it should be noted the TJN has been regularly cited by UK and US politicians and news agencies, at least prior to the recent and very low cost dismissal of some of their work. By way of example;

    Sadly it was a representative of the TJN and not a representative from CIFSA that was invited by Gordon Brown to ask the first civil society question at the London G-20 meeting in April 2009. Why would that be given all the money that was spend and the "traction" claimed?

    BTW – large bold font does not actually increase credibility.

  7. Anonymous says:

     Any one who gives any credibility to those two disaffected souls who run the tax justice network should first spend half an hour reading the CIMA website .Then they can work out why  no one takes it seriously.

  8. Anonymous says:

    The private sector probably has been reckless in protecting Cayman’s interests and I have no problem with CIFSA members spending/wasting as much of their own money as they want on whatever makes them feel good. My concern is that they may try to persuade government to spend our money on this nonsense, or that they may try to use the fact that they are spending this money to influence our government against the interests of the Cayman people. Past reckless behaviour on the part of the private sector is not a good reason for the government to do what the leaders of CIFSA say to do now.

    Regarding the request for evidence, take a look at the Tax Justice website referred to in the above CNS article and you will find links which demonstrate that this critic of Cayman seems to be susceptible to evidence of the truth, , and

    Others have figured out how to use credible evidence rather than diatribe to effectively neutralise some of Cayman’s critics at virtually no cost – maybe CIFSA should take note.  

  9. Anonymous says:

    Evidence please.

    If only prefacing assertions by referring to Ferraris travelling at high speed always made the assertions which follow accurate. Clearly some people are hoping that unquestioning personality based decision making is alive and well in the Cayman Islands. It also appears that once again solutions are offered and in some cases accepted based on assumptions and baseless aspirations not supported by any reliable evidence whatsoever.

    I imagine that the messages received by the audience may (should) possibly have included:
    Why was it that I paid to listen to this sales pitch?
    Wow – something approaching a million dollars has been spent on this “media relations” circus to no positive effect whatsoever;
    What evidence is there that if 10 million had been spent in the past 5 years with this or any other PR firm, then the onshore jurisdictions would have left Cayman and its lucrative financial sector alone? Those speaking apparently had never heard the adage about throwing good money after bad and would like others to contribute as much of another 10 million as they can get their hands on, 
    Everybody except the one who advised chasing after treaties with OECD countries whatever the cost now recognises that that was really bad advice,
    I could have been at home reading something much more informative on CNS.
    PS – to remove any doubt that may be out there, people selling their services as solutions for assumed problems that in any event they don’t understand, do not count as unbiased.


  10. Olivaire Watler says:

    Dear CNS,

    Thank you for accurately reporting the comments at this event. For some reason the Net News article* misattributed Mr. Travers’s comments to Mr. Quin. I pointed this out in an online comment on the article but apparently they declined to publish my comment or correct their article.