Gibraltar’s financial services centre rebrands, restructures
A major rebranding and restructuring of Gibraltar’s financial services industry, aimed at raising its competitive profile and increasing its focus on particular market sectors, is under way, overseen by minister for financial services and gaming Albert Isola.
The restructuring is seen as having its origins in Gibraltar’s last general election, held in December 2011, when the party that had been in power for 15 years was replaced by an alliance government comprised of the Gibraltar Socialist Labour Party (GSLP) and Liberals.
Isola is a Gibraltar-born, part-UK trained barrister who was active in Gibraltar politics, as a GSLP member in opposition, in the late 1990s, until returning to private life after four years in 2000.
He took over as minister for financial services seven months ago, after winning a by-election.
The overhaul of the Gibraltar government’s financial services framework has been taking place without much fanfare or notice, apart from occasional, seemingly unrelated announcements that have received little coverage outside Gibraltar and southern Spain, such as the appointment of certain individuals to various new posts.
Among the most ambitious of the plans, and one that has captured some media attention, has been one involving the creation of a new, locally-owned and run bank. The idea behind the so-called Gibraltar International Bank (GIB) is that it would provide banking services both to residents and businesses in Gibraltar – including fund administrators and asset managers – that such multi-national banking groups as Barclays have recently been walking away from.
Gibraltar’s government formally approved the plans to launch the new bank in late December, and has said it is hopeful that it will be fully operational by the third quarter of this year.
As reported here last month, Gibraltar government officials are also in the process of consulting the territory’s pensions and trusts industries on new regulations that are understood to be aimed at tightening up on the way qualifying recognized overseas pension schemes (QROPS) are set up and run in the jurisdiction, in response to the sector’s recent rapid growth.
In particular, the focus was said to be on ensuring that key elements of any Gibraltar QROP scheme administrator were physically based in Gib and not “outsourced”.
It is understood regulations to allow for the administration of pension and trust products not now on offer in Gibraltar are also in the planning stage.
Expanded financial services team
Another important development has been the appointment of four senior financial services executives – reporting to the head of Gibraltar Finance, James Tipping – to oversee specific areas that are key to the territory’s financial services menu.
The four are Philip Canessa, whose area is funds and investment services; Paul Astengo, private clients, banking and fiduciary services; Michael Ashton, insurance; and Victor Galliano, the Gibraltar finance industry’s first-ever full-time London representative.
Even the name of the government entity responsible for overseeing the promotion of Gibraltar’s financial services industry has changed, according Tipping, whose office used to be known as the Gibraltar Finance Centre.
The URL of its website has been correspondingly changed to www.gibraltarfinance.gi,Tipping said.
Credit: International Adviser