Action needed on immigration

| 07/12/2010

(CNS): Cayman’s financial services industry needs to prove to the outside world that a substantial amount of that business is physically done on island and the most important way to do this is to immediately reform the country’s immigration policies and woo people to come and live in Cayman, according to Cayman Finance Chairman Anthony Travers. Travers said that getting immigration policies in line with the reality of what was required of Cayman by onshore authorities (in particular the OECD) was crucial and required immediate action. Travers also called for the issue of security for work permit holders to be separated from voting rights.

Speaking to the 1,000 plus international as well as local delegates at the Cayman Captive Forum held at The Ritz-Carlton last week, he said the lack of ability for incoming professionals to reside in Cayman for the long term was a massive impediment to business.

The knock-on effects of business moving elsewhere meant that it was not just ex-pats that were losing jobs in Cayman; local people were also losing out on the job front. Looking at statistics from 2007, Travers said that around 50 percent of financial services sector jobs were undertaken by Caymanians and 50 per cent by ex-pats.

“800 fund administration jobs exported to Canada as a result of the roll over policy and immigration issues generally means therefore 400 fewer jobs for young Caymanian professionals in the Cayman Islands. This policy must be corrected,” he commented.

In particular, Travers said that Cayman had to address the 800 lb gorilla in the room – namely what he termed the “heresy” that the highest quality financial professionals can be attracted to the Cayman Islands to develop the financial services industry with the requisite substantial presence on the basis that these professionals are here for a finite term and with the view to being replaced. This, he said, was an “unrealistic delusion”.

“We understand the long term concerns of the Caymanian public but these must be addressed by decoupling the issue of work permits and security of tenure for financial professionals from the issue of status and voting and this conundrum has not yet been effectively solved in the minds of the voting public,” he continued, a tricky issue since European law says countries need to give certain rights to long term residents.

Nevertheless, Travers said that getting more of a physical presence of financial services business on island was extremely important because the OECD, in its 1998 paper on harmful tax competition, had outlined a lack of physical presence as an indication that a country was a tax haven. Cayman had successfully dealt with other issues that the OECD felt were also indicative of a tax haven, namely lack of transparency and lack of information exchange, but had not as yet dealt with the issue of a substantive presence on island.

Thus, Travers said, Cayman needed to encourage a wider range of financial services business and it could only do that if immigration issues such as the rollover policy were changed. This in turn would provide much needed revenue for government.

“If we cannot elevate our financial services industry by providing substantial presence and verifiable value-added, the recent fee increases borne by the financial services industry will not be sustainable and we face a further exodus of organisations and employment opportunities, and then the inevitable race to the bottom on fees with lower cost jurisdictions, which will ultimately see government revenues from financial services decline, not increase. That, in my view, is the stark choice,” he said.

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  1. slowpoke says:


    While I agree that the “roll over” policy was misguided and
    is a disaster, its repeal should not be limited to the financial services
    sector.  For example, if the Narayana
    Cayman University Medical Centre is going to be a real success and a third
    pillar of the CI economy, the top professionals there will also need to enjoy
    safe tenure.

    Furthermore, the idea that we can create another level of “Caymanian”
    (we already have electable, status, voter, naturalized, PR, etc.) and that this
    is going to work is absurd.  Migration
    and immigration is a reality in the Western world, as are basic human
    rights.  I simply cannot believe that this
    type of intelligent and well-resourced individual will accept being a second
    class citizen in the long run (and they should not).



  2. Anonymous says:

    Are you sure it is the rollover?    Before the rollover came into affect it was stated that the immigration records showed that most expat professionals tend to seek employment elsewhere after 4 or 5 years.  It would be helpful if we could have the true facts regarding the rollover instead of assuming that it is the rollover that is causing them to leave.  Maybe it is the increase in violent crime that is contributing greatly to the exit of these professionals and why other may no longer desire to come to the Cayman Islands.

    • Bean Counter says:

      While many do come for a "5 year plan" and it may be the most common length of stay in the terms of the mean, the ones that have valuable Cayman experience and who have successfully become part of a business team are the ones that have been here for longer and want to stay.

      Roll over does encourage short termism.  It is a question that is asked by candidates on almost every interview.

    • Smoke and Mirrors says:

      This is a perfect case of using statistics to support a flawed theory (Causation). We are led to believe that the rollover has caused many expats to leave Cayman and look elsewhere for employment when in actual fact it was already established that most Expats only stay in Cayman for an average of 4-5 years and the rollover policy was crafted to fit with that fact.

      So now that the rollover is in effect and things progress naturally, we see individuals try to make the point that the cause was the rollover when in fact this has always been the case. 

      We are also overlooking the fact that the Global recession started around the same time as the rollover implementation and is a more likely culprit.

       This is like saying low income households have more juvenile delinquency and alleging that poor people are bad parents, when in fact the cause of juvenile delinquency is linked to inadequate education facilities, day care and lack of supervision because both parents work and cannot afford helpers.

      Open your minds Cayman, and do not be so easily convinced! if it looks like swamp land it is swamp land no matter how much fill and fixing up they do to it before they sell it.


  3. Smoke & Mirrors says:

    Smoke and mirrors Mr Travers. Yes there is a needto give more security to expats and the "experts"  however, there is the perception that every expat coming to Cayman is an expert and that they perform duties that Caymanians are not able to perform which is a crock really.

    Only those at the very top can get away with calling themselves"experts". In the offshore industry there is little room for creativity and most individuals are trained and expected to follow a strict set of rules when doing their jobs. Indeed the average Lawyer, Accountant, Administrator is not busy at work brainstorming and coming up with creative ideas to offer new and exciting services and products to the world. Instead they are FOLLOWING INSTRUCTIONS.

    Take the average Lawyer for instance! they work based on precedents and are reprimanded when they go outside the lines and stray away from the "House Style", so basically any well trained Lawyer can perform that role. Now after years and years of this the Lawyer may come up with a brainstorm every now and then, and this idea hopefully makes it to the market but these occurrences are rare and indeed I can’t remember the last time I heard of any Lawyer doing anything "out of the box". My point then is if you hired an expat for 5 years they become profitable after the first 6 months of training and the Firm makes money. I don’t see how this results in jobs leaving the island due to rollover. Individuals are leaving and being replaced as fast as they go.

    Where jobs have been lost as we have seen, has been the result of the GLOBAL RECESSION and the actions of the so called "EXPERTS" overseas. So now we are expected to employ them here so they can screw things up at the source. I know of many many individual who lost jobs in the USA and were scooped up by certain Trust Companies before they could cash their severance checks, then plans were put in place to employ their spouses at the expense of Caymanians. 

    What the rollover is preventing is anyone being here long enough to claim specific rights and standing in the way of Caymanians who are qualified.

    An interesting by-product of the rollover is resentment however. Many "Expat" bosses are now deliberately ridding their firms of qualified Caymanians and cloaking their deliberately racist and discriminatory actions in excuses such as this.

    Sorry Mr. Travers but I am not convinced and frankly I am tired of individuals such as you bending the Premiers ear about our policies and telling us what we need to do.

    We know what needs to be done, but unfortunately no one seems to have the "cahoneys" to do it.


    • Anonymous says:

      Enjoy your bankrupt little island, Smoke & Mirrors (your post does suggest puffing and snorting). 

      Having been inside a Cayman law firm for years I can promise every reader that what this person says about how it works is simply not true. 

      Mid-level lawyers are profitable within the first year, to the firm, but as they get to be the senior lawyers they become more valuable as a result of their experience, their contacts on-shore, and their ability to generate business with which to employ more mid-level lawyers and staff.  It’s those people that won’t want the risk of being turfed by a bad policy.

      Further, the experts on-shore should be invited to come here and bring business that would otherwise be done back in London, but which of them who have an established book of business are going to uproot it and try to replant it in Cayman, only to be run off by a bad policy?  No one.  They’ll keep their business in London or New York (which are the ACTUAL sources of all work done in Cayman).

      Oh, and where you say "I don’t see how this results in jobs leaving the island due to rollover. Individuals are leaving and being replaced as fast as they go.", you hare demonstrated that you clearly are not in touch with what is really happening here.  Expats have left by the thousand and Caymanians are suffering the resulting unemployment and crime has exploded as a further result of that.  Pay attention, and don’t try the "global recession" excuse as your fall-back.  All the jobs that have gone to Canada and Ireland are doing quite well over there and our people are now unemployed.  The work is leaving to be done elsewhere – it’s not "only" drying up copmpletely (though some is drying up genrerally), a lot is going elsewhere.

      I hope all your unemployed neighbours thank you and your type for driving off the business that used to provide them jobs.

      • Smoke and Mirrors says:

        You are also delusional. So all that business went to Ireland and Canada because of our Immigration policy? Please try to use your brain, the business left because of developments that made those jurisdictions more attractive. The average client of the offshore world has no clue what our immigration policies are so how is that going to factor into where they do business. We still offer the same services and products don’t we? What IS driving away business is the fact that Ireland and Canada marketed and offered more incentives, at the end of the day itsprofits that influence those decisions not the fact that some expat Lawyer now feels secure and can stay longer.

        Cayman made a mistake when we setup this industry and put reliance on expat labor ahead of training and education for our own people, but I guess when all those suitcases of money started flying in, we lost our ability to look ahead and plan for this.

        Your comment that I am not in touch is also incorrect, I am very much in touch. I work in one of these firms and I can tell you without hesitation that the exodus of expat workers is due to the loss of business and not the rollover, a very small percentage of the Lawyers who come here actually plan to remain and a 5 year deal is actually not a bad situation for them, they scrape and save and wire that money elsewhere as soon as they get it. Those few who remain after 5 years are probably those who were made Partner etc and the rollover does not apply to them because they are given Key Employee status.

        What I have observed over the years is that the Caymanian Lawyers are marginalized, not given work, not trained, not exposed to the major clients, not sent on marketing trips and are instead tossed around and given mundane, elementary work and paid less than the expats simply because they do not have "International Experience". Mind you, the expat may have worked at 1 firm in London for a few years doing 1 type of law while the Caymanians from the start are exposed to it all. so what we didn’t work in London, factor in that we worked in Cayman, and are equally qualified.

        I am not buying the rollover excuse and any politician who changes the rollover policy is simply bending to expat pressure and selling out the Caymanians who are ambitious and want to make it to the top as well.

        I worked with Mr Travers Firm for a few years and I know first hand what their policy with regard to Caymanians was back then, so I dont know why he is coming galloping on his white horse to rescue us now.


        go sell that story elsewhere!!!


        Thank you.


    • C Miller. Tampa,Fl says:

      Ezzard I have an idea what Mr. Travers is saying. XXXX

      Grassroots is thicker than water.

      So Ezzard in layman terms so everyone can understand please EXPLAIN to the people the average Joe what EXACTLY IN DETAIL IS MR. TRAVERS SAYING AND IF IT WILL HURT THE CAYMANIAN PEOPLE ANY WHAT CAN THEY EXPECT?. Call Mr. Travers before your letter is released to us get on the air as well and Cayman 27. We need an interpretation on this for the less intellectual so they can understand. In future Mr. Travis speak so that the man  on the street corner can understand what you are saying.

      Is he saying that We can bring professional experts in on work permits but make it clear to them that this is not CITIZENSHIP, it is just a business opportunity with no claims to voting rights and no right to dictate or politics and make political decisions here correct?

      That’s reasonable. But this recent generation of guest workers are trying to not only run for office but actually trying to dictate our laws to screw the Caymanians and make life better for themselves! That we will not tolerate.

      I hope this is not a UDP trick or Ms. Cowan pulling Mr. Travers coat tail for help to go through with their plans to accommodate the whole world while our  people suffer. Mr. Travers mentioned what happened in the past he has not mentioned any suggestions or solutions to help fix joblessness amongst  Caymanians.   Continued importation of x-pats to this country demanding voting rights is nothing but a TAKE OVER OF OUR COUNTRY QUIETLY.  These people are determined to control our financial industry!all we have is banking and tourism.  They want it all!

      • Anonymous says:

         "…this recent generation of guest workers are trying to not only run for office but actually trying to dictate our laws to screw the Caymanians and make life better for themselves."

        Name one expat, or even a "new" Caymanian, who is trying to run for office.  Just one.  Go ahead…

  4. Anonymous says:

    If we had a Governor and residents from England, like former English Administrators/Commissioners, who were willing to stand up to preserve rights of Caymanians (this is based on historical letters from Administrators in Cayman to Jamaica) and monitor growth of development to ensure that other nationals did not dominate, then maybe Mr Travers would not find this issue so problematic. But the newcomers from England did not care to integrate with locals and other groups have taken over the reins, despite still having a Governor.

    You see most foreigners tend to look out for their own people and this melting pot is about to run over. The powers to be were scared to control immigration and now the MLAs have to be concerned about the employment and prosperity needs of many aggressive new Caymanians, who will fight against Caymanians like Mr Travers.

    Also, I disagree with the ideathat professionals would not relocate to Cayman, even with the knowledge that time will be limited. Many professionals will make the most of the opportunity, if they chose to work in a top financial centre with tax-free earnings.

    • Anonymous says:

      "…I disagree with the idea that professionals wouldnot relocate to Cayman, even with the knowledge that time will be limited. Many professionals will make the most of the opportunity, if they chose to work in a top financial centre with tax-free earnings."

      The evidence is to the contrary.  Profesisonals and their related businesses are leaving in droves, and new business is not coming to Cayman in any meaningful quantity.  You parrot the "Caymanian v expat" lines like there is actually someone in Cayman who will benefit from that. 

      Let me break it down for you: Running off the professionals means that them, their business, and the money they generate and spend will all go somewhere else, and Cayman will suffer a breakdown in employment and finance as a result.  This is actually happening before your eyes.  Disagree till you’re blue in the face, the facts won’t change.  Cayman might get the mid-level younger professionals who want an adventure for a few years, but the older senior professionals who generate the actual business are unlikely to uproot for a few years and then go re-build a life somewhere else.  Stability is important in life for the senios people.

  5. Anonymous says:

    well said… its a pity that educated people like tony traver cannot be elected as mla……

    instead we are stuck with the likes of mckeeva, arden, ezzard……zzzzzz

    • Anonymous says:

      Who said Tony could not be elected? 

      He works pro bono( "for the public good"/for free) for Cayman. He has no personal gain, what he does is for the best of Cayman and I’m sure also his future generations. I’m sure Tony could live anywhere in the world if he wanted to, yet he stays here, in Cayman his home since the early 70s.

      I hope Tony’s advice is listened to and that he continues to help our "Beloved Isle Cayman"!

  6. Anonymous says:

    Good luck Tony.  

    The experiment in rejecting the (professional) expats has had the predictable results for business on the island, and the results were entirely predictable, but inexplicably the powers that be continue the experiment.  It makes me wonder if they are just a little "off" for expecting different results as they protract the experiment, of if the results achieved are actually the intended and desired results?

    I got out early on in the exodus so it’s just a point of abstracted curiosity for me now, but it is regrettable that the FS industry in Cayman suffered a full-on disembowelment at the hands of the immigration policy.  Most regrettable indeed.