Matthias Knab: Like many other on- and off-shore jurisdictions, The Bahamas financial services industry had to tackle many different regulatory and legal initiatives over the last few. Let’s start with a review of how the industry has responded, and if the response and the recent developments here were more on the passive / reactive side or also proactive?
Christel Sands-Feaste: The SMART Fund has been around now for 16 years and clients love the flexibility in terms of how it can be used. The vehicle demonstrates that The Bahamas is able to balance not just international obligations and regulatory requirements, but also capable of leveraging clients’ needs, and so a product that was relevant 16 years ago continues to be very relevant. It has the necessary elasticity so that it can be as a flexible vehicle, but it can also be utilized in more regulated ways.
It is useful not just for startups, but also for family offices and other clients who want to establish a track record and for other purposes.
The other aspect I want to mention is the time horizon. It’s one thing to come up with a solution, but being able to design and implement it on a timely basis is maybe even more important. From that perspective, it is very relevant and positive that we are able to respond quickly and that as we develop products, we are also able to develop the legislation and ensure that it’s rolled out in a timely fashion.
Currently we are working on rolling out a new Investment Funds Act that will bring together not just our international obligations, satisfy the needs of existing participants in the marketplace from a regulatory perspective and provide the necessarily regulatory oversight, but also recognize realities of 2019 in terms of new concepts that didn’t exist two or five years ago. So I am confident that The Bahamas is able to leverage its ability to utilize private sector expertise as well as governmental oversight to develop products that are robust, versatile, and can withstand the scrutiny and the real testing to which those products will be subject.
The above excerpt is taken from the Opalesque 2019 Bahamas Roundtable event in which Christel Sands-Feaste was a participant. To access the full report, download the PDF below.