Two recent events, although different in nature, caused me to reflect on the present position of the...
Two recent events, although different in nature, caused me to reflect on the present position of the Isle of Man and the future of the finance sector on the island.
The first was a call from an adviser who was struggling to submit a trustee investment where one of the trustees was putting forward objections that, fortunately, we do not hear very often these days. The usual old chestnuts were being trotted out about "dodgy tax havens", lack of regulation, risky, expensive, etc.
The second came about as a consequence of the take-over of our ultimate parent, Canada Life in Toronto by Great West Life which had commissioned a firm of consultants to look at the various financial institutions that Great West now own. Key questions were on the history of the offshore market and the future for the offshore industry.
Firstly, the development of the infrastructure of the Isle of Man has always been assisted by our government and the island maintains the highest standard of regulation, investor protection, anti- money laundering regulations and anti-fraud legislation and has received international recognition for implementing these measures.
Secondly, although the lack of direct taxation on offshore investments will always give the Isle of Man a competitive edge, the finance industry has long realised that this cannot be the only factor on which we rely for our long-term success. The response has been to ensure that we are competitive and to establish a high level of professionalism with regard to financial services so that the "offshore" status of the companies operating from the island is becoming secondary to the standard of products, level of service and financial security offered.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the offshore life assurance industry which has been the leader in providing UK IHT solutions and innovative portfolio bonds. Canada Life International offers highly competitive single premium and regular premium portfolio bonds and highly competitive premiums for whole of life assurance in the market.
The "offshore boom" of the late 1980s and early 90s was strongly tax driven. Today it can be seen that this has laid the economic foundations for the Crown Dependencies to establish themselves as serious contenders in the international market providing highly professional services in a stable and strong economic environment.
While the lack of taxation, especially of life funds, will continue to give companies such as CLI a competitive edge the Isle of Man finance sector has positioned itself so that this is not necessarily the major factor to be taken into account when investing into the Isle of Man.
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