Craig Allen, Head of Investment Management at Julius Baer in Guernsey, provides some background on the wealth management industry in Guernsey and why you should consider relocating to the island, along with your assets, investments and business interests.
The private banking and investment management industries in Guernsey have solid roots dating back to the 1980s. Many of the world’s leading private banks have a presence in the island, with 20 banking licences currently in place. Not all of these banks service the needs of clients living locally, but several look after private individuals, with many of these people having relocated to the island at some point. Guernsey also boasts a thriving investment management community ranging from larger UK and global firms to smaller locally owned businesses.
Private wealth in Guernsey
Competition is healthy and this typically translates into excellent service levels, first-class investment solutions and transparent pricing structures. To provide such services, all investment advisors need to be authorised and regulated by the Guernsey Financial Services Commission (GFSC). This involves obtaining UK industry-standard qualifications as well as ensuring continuing professional development with annual certification. All of this should ensure that client experience is excellent and that all investment advisors have a deep understanding of which products and solutions are suitable for Guernsey residents. Of course, with Guernsey well regarded globally and home to many leading trust businesses, private bankers will always fly in from the UK or further afield to offer their services. This further increases the competitive environment, although the ‘fly in, fly out’ strategy is rarely successful and these bankers may not be authorised and regulated by the GFSC.
Can our local thriving wealth management community compete with other financial centres such as London, Zurich or Geneva? For us, the answer is clearly ‘yes’ and this is backed up by clear evidence.
The benefits of moving to Guernsey
So, why move to Guernsey?
- Guernsey is able to attract top-level talent. Many of the people working locally across the entire finance industry have had experience further afield, with a stint in London being on many CVs. Some of these people have relocated to Guernsey from the UK when looking for the next career move and others have either returned to the island after several years away or have met a ‘local’ and have taken the plunge to relocate as a couple, often once children are born. The legal profession is particularly strong in terms of experience in top-tier London firms. Guernsey is also proud to grow its own talent and the local schools have produced excellent results for many years. Almost everyone in Guernsey appreciates the work/life balance and typically this results in happy, motivated staff who are able to work hard but then leave the office at a sensible time and commute by foot, bike or by a short car journey; no-one has to contemplate a long tube and train ride home.
- The second reason why Guernsey competes on a global scale is related to its size. With one high street, one daily newspaper and one airport, news of poor service levels and poor customer experience spreads quickly. No private banker can hide away on the 20th floor of an office in Canary Wharf and this ensures that only the best-managed and most ethical businesses survive, which can be a huge bonus for anyone considering moving their wealth Guernsey. Most new business comes through referrals or from local networks, so reputation is paramount. A strong Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) commitment is also expected by staff and clients alike. With forward-thinking companies committed to the island and staff who have the time and the energy to participate, Guernsey boasts a thriving sporting community with excellent cultural activities relative to its size.
Essentially, clients have a large amount of choice when selecting their preferred private banking and investment management provider in Guernsey. Some clients will opt for the smaller investment boutiques and some may prefer to deal with one of the global private banks with a local office. All clients will rightly demand personalised service, excellent reporting, a robust IT system and investment services that are suited to their specific needs and these are readily available in Guernsey, making the island a perfect choice to relocate or move your wealth to in confidence.