It is rare that one of Cayman's busy cabinet ministers will stay long after giving the opening address at a business conference.
What was remarkable about the inaugural Spectrum conference on 22 July at Kimpton Seafire Resort + Spa was the fact that Minister of Financial Services and Commerce André Ebanks not only stayed for the entire event, but he also took copious notes and delivered spontaneous closing remarks that addressed some of the topics covered and comments made during the day.
The conference was partially sponsored by Dart and Provenance Properties sponsored the morning coffee break. It brought together members of the government, regulators and private sector experts to discuss the challenges and best way forward for Cayman's financial services industry. A series of four panel discussions addressed topics that included the regulatory outlook, the international tax landscape, top industry sector priorities and the industry's assessment of some of the global initiatives that could impact Cayman's financial services industry.
Panel participants included, among others, Cayman Islands Monetary Authority Managing Director Cindy Scotland and other members of her staff; Cayman Finance CEO Jude Scott; members of Cayman's Department of International Tax Cooperation; and private sector experts representing the legal, accounting, banking, insurance and funds industries.
Minister Ebanks had indicated that he considered Spectrum a stakeholder consultation event in which he would take into consideration the views expressed during the conference when evaluating the government's short- and long-term strategic plans for Cayman's financial services industry. In keeping with that intention, members of the press attended on the condition that nothing said during the conference could be reported in order to encourage frank discussion of the issues by all of the attendees.
Speaking after the conference, FTS Director Paul Byles — who organised Spectrum — said the inaugural event exceeded his expectations in terms of the value of discussions for the financial services industry.
"It has been a while since we have come together as an industry because of COVID, but it’s been an even longer period since we have had such a diverse group of industry experts and other key stakeholders together," he said. "It’s always important that the various industry sub-sectors, regulators and government policymakers zoom in to ensure success at the micro level, but it’s equally important that occasionally we all take a few steps back and come together to examine where we are at the broader jurisdictional level."
Byles noted that as an initiative, Spectrum has four focus areas, including strategic output, thought leadership, global presence and promotion/networking.
"This first event was definitely in the strategic output category, but there are plans to organise events in the other focus areas as well," he said. "Spectrum 2021 gave us an opportunity to start that process and based on the discussions throughout the day, it did just that."
This article first appeared in print in the August 2021 edition of Camana Bay Times, written by Alan Markoff.
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