The move follows Jersey Finance’s proprietary research revealing the partially negative opinions of the financial industry that Jersey’s home community shares might be based on misconduct by other financial jurisdictions.
This led to “building a new narrative,” with the rebrand, Jersey Finance chief executive Geoff Cook (pictured) told International Adviser.
“In our home community, our industry is well supported by the States of Jersey government and by the home population, but even they get disturbed and concerned when they see press coverage elsewhere in the world that says ‘tax havens are a problem’ and then they will list their names and put Jersey on that list,” Cook said.
The initiative aims to establish a clear differentiation between jurisdictions by distinguishing between good and bad examples.
“We believe we are a very good example of a cross-border international finance centre, and that’s what I would like to get across with greater clarity to enhance our reputation and help more people in and out of Jersey.”
Cook answered the following questions put to him by International Adviser:
What is the image of Jersey you’re trying to counter?
“We’ve conducted research into the perception and the understanding of what we do, and we’ve found that within some elements of the media and also people who are not involved in international financial services, there is a much poorer understanding of what we stand for.
“Sometimes we are tagged with the ‘tax haven’ label, which is inaccurate and not borne out by evidence. So, both at home and abroad, we want to explain more clearly what it is that we provide and how we make sure that our jurisdiction isn’t misused for the kind of things that attract that label.
“They would be things like secrecy, lack of transparency, aiding and abetting people to commit financial crimes, including tax evasion. Jersey didn’t do any of those things and it is strongly fenced to ensure that we’re not used in that way. But we need to find a less technocratic and more straightforward way of explaining that to people who aren’t involved in cross-border financial services.
What steps are you effectively taking with the campaign to improve people’s perception?
“It’s less of a campaign and more of a change in language, positioning and explanation that we will follow permanently in our communication. We want to get our message across in a different way by building a new narrative.
“We will do so by revamping our brochures, our website, at our events and at face to face promotions. We will liaise with the media and meet the people who have an interest in learning about what our jurisdiction does, which is building a brighter future, because by putting capital to work we contribute to creating jobs and growth, which benefits the citizens of the countries who receive our capital, creating wealth not just for the investor but for the constituencies and the people where the money is invested.
“We want to help people understand that we are a force for good and a benefit, and that we don’t engage in negative or suspect activity that they need worry about.
Why is Jersey’s financial industry viewed badly globally? What are the local people saying that prompted you to launch this campaign?
“There are kinds of cross-border financial centres that either through design or lack of attention or obstruction, are misused. The Panama Papers generated lots of news around that last year, and clearly, there are examples where cross-border finance is used in an inappropriate way – people create things like shell companies, hide their real ownership information, and invest money which has been acquired illegally.
“Part of our communication drive is to show there is a difference between centres. As an example we haven’t allowed shell companies to be formed in Jersey since 1989. For almost thirty years we haven’t permitted any kind of company to be formed here without knowing who the true owners are, and for us to be certain that they’ve come by their money legitimately.
“Most countries in the world don’t to that, most of our competitors finance centres don’t collect ultimate beneficial ownership information, so whilst they may not knowingly be supporting illicit activity, by not having absolute clarity about who owns these vehicles and where their money comes from, there is risk of financial crime being perpetrated.
“What we’re trying to do is to explain why Jersey is different from other centres and is not involved in that kind of activity.