STEP Caribbean Conference, Cayman

George HodgsonI have just enjoyed a highly informative STEP Caribbean Conference in Cayman from May 1-3, which attracted well over 300 delegates from across the STEP world.

Presentations ranged from the emerging theme of cryptocurrencies, which I suspect is a wholly new topic to many in the audience, to the use of firewall provisions in fending off matrimonial claims.

What really stood out, however, is the changing mood across much of the Caribbean regarding transparency and the rising regulatory burden. Yes, these developments are providing major challenges, particularly in driving costs up sharply across the board.

This was a theme very clearly evidenced in STEP’s Offshore Perceptions research report last autumn. But the message from a string of eminent speakers is that the time is gone to complain about this; it’s time instead to ‘get on with it’ and ensure that businesses adapt to the new environment they are now working in.

This obviously echoes the mood in the UK regarding Brexit, where whatever the views of STEP members on the issue, I sense most agree that we need to now accept it is going to happen and plan on that basis. Indeed Brexit and its potential implications for the offshore world was another key issue which attracted a full house.

The Caribbean Conference, which is now in its 19th year, remains one of the flagship STEP events in the calendar and I look forward to next year’s meeting in Barbados.

 

George Hodgson is Chief Executive of STEP

Brexit: Focus must be on cross-border families

passport control

The UK’s historic vote on 23 June to leave the European Union has caused huge uncertainty, particularly for the three million EU citizens currently living in the UK, and the two million or so British people who live in other EU countries.

Brexit has huge implications for cross-border families, both in the UK and in Europe, but the practical consequences are not yet clear. Many families are worried about their futures: will they be able to stay? Will they need a visa to visit their families? Will they need work permits? What about reciprocal public healthcare arrangements? Will there be restrictions on studying and doing business? Will they face higher taxes on foreign property ownership, and cash transfers between member states? How will foreign pensions be treated?

It is essential that these families’ interests are central to the negotiations that will take place over the coming months and years. Their position will need very careful consideration and STEP will take an active role in highlighting their concerns to help provide certainty and enable these families to plan for their futures.

 

George Hodgson is Interim Chief Executive of STEP