Equity Bank And Trust Bahamas
It is no secret that considerable consolidation has occurred and will likely continue to take place among the larger global private banking institutions.
Offshore jurisdictions are dominated by these global giants; however, the evolving wealth management environment is not only forcing them to examine how they deliver services to clients, but instead from which centres these services are to be provided. For jurisdictions like The Bahamas, it means the door is slowly opening for home-grown and managed institutions to compete with the larger players in the industry.
Equity Bank And Trust Bahamas Limited is one of a small group of Bahamian owned and managed banks and trust companies, which are competing successfully on the international stage. The bank has been in business for more than 30 years, and sees itself as a forerunner for the growing need for locally owned private banking institutions.
“It is important and desirable to have a larger number of Bahamians exercising greater control over the private banking industry,” said Ivylyn Cassar, Equity’s Chairman. “An increase in Bahamian ownership of private banking institutions in The Bahamas, is the basis of a healthy competitive environment for both local and foreign owned firms. Also, it influences the level and quality of service, as well as reducing the operating costs and product pricing. As more locally owned institutions come about, there will be less of a need to import foreign management staff thus avoiding the frequent changes in personnel – which is often the case with foreign-owned banking entities,” she said.
As an independent boutique bank and trust company, Equity competes with a vast array of multinational players – many of which are located in The Bahamas. The Bahamas is one of the leading international financial centres in the world, with more than 280 banks and trust companies from 36 countries, managing approximately US $200 billion in total assets. Many of which are branches or subsidiaries of financial institutions operating in countries such as the United States, Canada, Switzerland, the U.K. and Japan. These institutions have located in the Bahamas to take advantage of the country’s stable political and economic system, to offer private banking services to high-net-worth and ultra-high-net-worth individuals and families.
Despite the far reaching implications of FACTA and a higher global focus on compliance, the Bahamas still maintains its position as one of the leading offshore financial centres. Against this global backdrop, The Bahamas has joined more than 108 countries in the OECD’s Global Forum in formally acceding to The Multilateral Convention on the Mutual Administrative Assistance in Tax Matters (“The Multilateral Convention”). Arriving at this point, required much collaboration between the government and industry stakeholders in The Bahamas in order to address the risks to tax compliance posed by non-cooperative jurisdictions.
The Bahamas has also entered the Inclusive Framework on Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS). Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS) has been defined by the OECD as tax avoidance strategies that exploit gaps and mismatches in tax rules, to artificially shift profits to low or no-tax locations. Under the inclusive framework, over 100 countries and jurisdictions are collaborating to implement the BEPS measures and tackle BEPS.
“The Bahamas indication of a definitive position on BEPS December 2017, demonstrates its proactive engagement with international stakeholders as a means of strengthening the positioning of the jurisdiction,” said Ms. Cassar. “The Bahamas reputation for financial services is just too important to be compromised.”
Equity believes its boutique nature is an advantage when competing with other larger institutions in its home base of Nassau according to Ms. Cassar. “Ironically, like our large international counterparts, we too have the advantage of size, or rather our relative lack of it. We are convinced that our strength is our size. With growing emphasis on the individual, focusing on the client is essential – which is a message that we have taken to heart. With our size, we avoid unwieldy bureaucratic structures, being free to concentrate fully on the client and their needs – treating them as if they were our one and only client.”
Those clients are now located in all corners of the world, and while wealth is still primarily in the hands of an older generation, wealth transfers from one generation to the next. With the rapid and growing emergence of a younger wealth class, there are challenges that are facing both large and boutique firms.
“The world stage is changing as the old pass on and a new generation of HNWI(s) emerges,” said Ms. Cassar. “The younger generation is more demanding and requires a greater level of reports. However, they are generally less concerned about costs but have high expectations in terms of service quality, flexibility and performance. Also, they have a tendency to purchase homes or condominiums in different jurisdictions away from their home base. This necessitates the establishment of locations beyond our head office to better service our clientele.”
The latter has prompted the recent establishment of an affiliate office in Dubai, which is now part of the Equity Group of Companies also located in British Virgin Islands, Panama and Switzerland. “The breadth of our multi-jurisdictional group of companies and affiliates, provides us with the flexibility to devise and establish entities and relationships which are not only in the Bahamas but elsewhere – if this is in the best interest of a client,” said Ms. Cassar.
For those clients who are considering relocation or a second home away from their home base, Ms. Cassar says the advantages of living in The Bahamas are as clear as the crystal waters that surround it.
“The Bahamas is located in one of the most idyllic tropical settings in the world, offering many incentives to relocate permanently or to establish a second home. The most advantageous conditions have been created for wealthy individuals and their families to live and work in a tropical paradise, where their assets are protected and their confidentiality is assured,” she said.
The constantly changing global economic environment, demands an increasingly complex process for personal wealth management, as well as a service provider that understands the intricacies and challenges that come with that responsibility and mandate. Private banking is the foundation of the Bahamas comprehensive financial services offerings. Equity Bank and Trust Bahamas Limited is at the forefront of independent Bahamian banks, with the knowledge, agility and experience to meet the evolving needs of international clients. Since its establishment in 1985, Equity and its affiliates have continued to evolve the broadest range of banking, investment funds, trusts, foundations, corporate products, trustee of pension funds, private trust companies and related services.
Equity recently introduced full banking services with the approval of it banking license by the Central Bank of The Bahamas. The addition of full banking services, means clients now have access to the broadest range of financial products and services from Equity.
“Our banking capability and services are a natural extension of our product offerings,” says Ms. Cassar, “and also meets a growing demand for these services by many of our clients. We expect banking services will become our fastest growing area in the
next five to ten years, so it was critical to establish a full service banking department.”
Equity’s growing funds business has also led to it establishing Equity Investment Funds Services Ltd. (Equity Investments) to operate within The Bahamas and to conduct business exclusively with non-residents. It will operate as a wholly-owned subsidiary of Equity Bank And Trust Bahamas Limited, a non-resident licensee of the Central Bank of The Bahamas.
Funds services have been a steadily growing area for Equity, spurred by such innovative products such as SMART Funds and ICON. Establishing an investment funds subsidiary, is seen as a logical and appropriate step to oversee this growing area of business.
“Our in-house fund expertise and relentless focus on client stewardship, has solidified Equity’s stellar reputation in the investment fund industry, elevating us as one of the fastest growing fund administrators in The Bahamas and the Caribbean,” said Ms Cassar. “Equity Investments will focus solely on our funds administration capability, strengthening our internal guidance throughout every stage of a fund’s life cycle, and ensuring our clients’ investment funds are administered to the highest professional standards.”
In addition to SMART Funds and ICON, Professional Funds, a class of funds for sophisticated investors, and Recognized Foreign Funds, which are licensed or registered in a prescribed jurisdiction, are core components of Equity’s private investment funds offerings.
Such a broad range of services for a bank built on a boutique framework, is a pressure point for training and professional development at Equity. “We espouse a high standard of service to our clients, and we back that up with ongoing training for our key personnel to meet the diverse needs of our clients”, said Ms. Cassar. “Our skill goes beyond our core competence as we have learned over time that those who cling to the past, generally find themselves left behind.”
“This is why we set ourselves new standards for efficiency, quality discretion and authority with each new client. This can also mean that we may find ourselves specializing in areas tomorrow that do not yet belong to our core competence today. For us, as a comprehensive and boutique bank and trust company, there is simply no other way to ensure that our clients’ complex requirements receive the attention they deserve – whether we are advising individuals, business owners or companies.
“Our range of bespoke products and services gives us the confidence and strength to deliver creative, responsive advice and solutions for the most complex client requirements. Also, our independence ensures that the integrity of our advice and solutions are clearly and solely focused on what is best for the clients we are proud to serve. Equity’s reputation is built on these pillars. Without compromise, we are fiercely committed to our clients’ success.”
Company: Equity Bank And Trust Bahamas Limited
Contact: Ivylyn Cassar
Contact Email: [email protected]
Address: Equity Trust House, Caves Village, West Bay Street, P.O. Box N-10697, Nasau, Bahamas
Contact Telephone: 001 242 676 8181
Telephone: 001 242 676 8188