28 Mar 2024

The Time Is Now: Why Guernsey’s Private Wealth Sector is in the Best Shape Yet

This article was first published on TheWealthNet.

2024 private wealth viewpoint by David Gilmour, Managing Director, Imperium Group.

As we hurtle towards the end of the third month of 2024, and while the global geopolitical uncertainty and economic fluctuations remain in focus this year, Guernsey’s private wealth sector is in one of the best positions it has been in for many years.

While the industry has historically been strong and Guernsey’s reputation well established in the broader market, there has yet to be a time in recent years where our offering is one of the most competitive in the global offshore market. Previously, we have had relationships with pockets of the world and focused on key markets where firms had established business opportunities or had synergies with a jurisdiction. Now, our footprint is becoming truly global.

So, what does Guernsey have to offer?

A stable economic and political system

A 2023 research report by PAM Insight, commissioned by Guernsey Finance, found that for under 35s, political stability remained the most important factor when choosing a jurisdiction.

The geopolitical uncertainty in some parts of the world has made people question where they want their wealth held. They are looking for somewhere with a stable economic and political system, such as the Channel Islands. A significant number of high-net-worth families are also becoming internationally transient, and placing assets in a base such as Guernsey is increasingly attractive.

Foresight to adopt strong regulation

The report also found that primary wealth management considerations for under 35s included being a good global citizen, with 86% of respondents marking it as important (35%) or very important (51%) for under 35s.

Guernsey’s foresight to adopt strong regulation, which at points may not have been viewed so favourably, has now reaped dividends. The financial climate has changed and in the past ten years a drive for transparency, demonstrated by the introduction of a raft of regulatory reporting, has placed those jurisdictions that deployed strong regulation at the forefront of international private client structuring. Guernsey is having its moment in the sun!

A supportive legal infrastructure

Furthermore, high net worth individuals and families now want to know that the jurisdiction they are doing business with has the infrastructure to support their structuring. Guernsey’s legal infrastructure, its Corporate and Trust codes, its well-regarded court system, and strong banking and investment management offerings are fundamental for clients and their advisers. Guernsey is globally recognised, credible and provides the necessary reporting to make it globally compliant. Other jurisdictions, once competing with Guernsey for US business in particular, have become less favourable due to their reputation and lack of regulatory credibility.

Unique products and structures

As well as Guernsey’s enviable reputation of being well-regulated, its commerciality sets it apart from many competitors; legislation with support from regulators has allowed Guernsey a number of unique structuring offerings that provide clients and advisers with options specifically tailored for clients. This breadth of structuring options undoubtedly plays to Guernsey’s advantage.

Access to independent providers

Clients and their advisers are increasingly turning towards independent providers as they understand that independent service providers deliver a service that is in a client’s long-term interest. Clients and advisers have confidence that the people they are speaking with can make effective, measured decisions and that we provide our management with the resources required to arrive at the correct course of action.

Ultimately, we have determined that it is relationships that are at the core of success. Face-to-face meetings and the willingness to travel off-island to meet intermediaries and clients go a long way for those you meet, and this approach continues to deliver success. As the business continues to grow its offering, new markets are being explored which only helps enhance the Channel Island’s reputation. New business has been core to Imperium’s growth, and it is important that we and Guernsey continues to punch above our weight.

2024 will be a year of growth for many as Guernsey remains one of the few credible international finance centres. It is essential that we maintain momentum, continuing to provide the high-quality, independent, reliable service that we have become known for, and to remain cognisant of a constantly changing world playing to our advantage.