After years of deliberation, planning, and the launch of St Lucia into the financial services industry in March this year, the island is now establishing itself in the market as a unique and reliable model jurisdiction for financial services. The key ingredients in this winning formula are a suite of seven pieces of legislation that meet both confidentiality and regulatory expectations, committed regulated professional service, a state of the art public online registry system and a private sector promoter.
Regulation of the industry is carried out by the Director of Financial Services and the Financial Services Supervision Unit or FSSU. This is a dedicated regulatory body responsible for the licensing of local registered agents (LRA’s) and higher end entities such as banks, insurance companies and mutual funds formed under the offshore suite of legislation. Not only does the FSSU license the applicants, it is also responsible for the ongoing supervision and monitoring of these entities to ensure that they are solvent and not involved in money laundering or related activity.
There are 130 persons admitted to practice as Barristers in St. Lucia. As the profession is fused, these persons also carry the designations of Solicitor and Notary Royal. Most of these lawyers are part of long standing law firms with established reputations and international networks. The Accounting profession is also very well represented with about 100 qualified accountants. These persons are employed in large commercial organizations and in the big five firms, four of who are represented in the island. As is common in the offshore centers, all of the 10 registered agent companies are owned and run by accountants or lawyers.
Compared to other offshore centers, the island’s human resource base presents a major advantage. There is a well-developed educational infrastructure, fashioned on the United Kingdom model. The work culture has been both heavily and positively impacted by a strong international commercial presence including several international banks and other business interests. There is a semi professional core and strong middle management that has been nurtured in the private sector and also in the civil service.
St Lucia’s human resources offer a skilled pool of labor at a lower cost than more developed offshore jurisdictions such as Bermuda, Cayman and even Barbados. This makes establishment of service provider entities less expensive and far more expedient as most if not all of the staff required can be obtained locally. Therefore for back office operations for fund administration, asset management or other offshore services, St. Lucia has the level of skill at a cost that makes it an obvious choice. Further the government is committed to the sustainable development of the sector and there are provisions to allow tax concessions for persons employed in the sector provided certain criteria are satisfied. This makes the island very attractive to international investors wishing to establish a substantial presence in a financial services center.