Offshore banking played a key role in the development of the Channel Islands (CI) as a leading international financial services centre. Major banks from Continental Europe, North America and South Africa first opened offices in the Islands over 40 years ago. And banking continues to be central both to the CI local community and financial services industry.
The islands banking industry services a wealth of private and corporate customers locally, internationally and within the wider financial service sector, including investment, fiduciary and custodian management. It is this rich and diverse spectrum of financial services activities that attracted and retains the presence of major international banks. The CI also have a long track record as innovators in the offshore securitisation industry, creating sophisticated lending packages, structured finance vehicles and other bespoke products to support international capital markets activity and institutional funding. There are currently 75 banks licensed in the Channel Islands, 40 in Jersey and 35 in Guernsey, with total deposits in the region of £256bn as at 31 March 2012 (sources: JFSC & GFSC Q1 Banking statistics: March 2012).
As the new financial services legislative and regulatory landscape continues to take shape, and with major global economies continuing to battle for economic recovery, the banking sector is under more scrutiny than ever. And as Jersey and Guernsey are ranked 21st and 31st respectively, in the Global Finance Centres index, and are place 1st and 2nd of the Offshore rankings, the branches and subsidiaries of the major international banks established in the Channel Islands must meet strict local and international regulatory requirements as well as industry best practice. Investor protection and confidence is of utmost importance to the islands and relies on banks maintaining the highest standards. For instance the way risks are managed by banks and other financial institutions has never been more scrutinised, and new and proposed regulatory changes have challenged them to expand and strengthen their corporate governance. Banks are also tackling an increase in the complexity of financial accounting and disclosure requirements, and increased responsibilities being placed on audit committees, management, and independent auditors.
We help make sure they are not just regulation-ready as new requirements come on-line, but positioned for competitive advantage.
Our long track record of supporting the local banking industry though major regulatory reform such as Basel II and more recently FATCA, means we are trusted as experts in our field. And when the need arises, our real connectivity within the global PwC network of Firms means our clients get easy access to whatever additional specialist expertise is required. The depth and quality of our insights is evidenced when our PwC representatives chair meetings at financial regulators, IMF, World Bank, ECB and other leading institutions. We share our insights with our clients and keep them well informed of our latest thinking on the issues they need to know about.