We Interview John Rutherford, CEO at Invest Turks and Caicos.
CEO Inisght: How would you summarise Invest Turks and Caicos’ raison d’être, its ambitions, and the road map to realising these goals?
John Rutherford: Invest Turks and Caicos was created in 2015 to act as the lead organisation for attracting and facilitating foreign investment to the Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI); to support the growth of local business; and to manage the country’s Investor Permanent Residency programme. Internationally, we promote the islands in target markets to companies in industry sectors who we believe can secure a strong return on investment by having a presence here; and bring benefits to the islands through economic activity and job creation.
We provide bespoke information to support the company’s business plan; and if a company or individual expresses interest in locating here, we work with them throughout the investment process. Our ambition is to be the best investment promotion agency in the Caribbean within five years. Year One has been spent setting up the business and handling a pipeline of significant projects which were already in place. Moving forward we are developing a five-year strategy with key milestones to ensure we remain strategically focused.
The strategy will include a significant push to promote the islands as a leading IFC. This is a stated objective of the TCI Government which is providing financial, legislative and hands-on support for the further development of the sector, including the setting up of a public/private Financial Services Working Group.
CEO Inisght: What do you consider the Turks and Caicos Islands’ flagship products, services and credentials in respect of international financial services to be, and how do these distinguish it from other IFCs?
John Rutherford: TCI is a small British Overseas Territory that has established a name as an IFC with an emphasis on Producer Owned Reinsurance Companies (PORCs). With a portfolio of nearly 7000 PORCs, supportive legislation; a strong working relationship between our experienced regulator and the industry; and Governmental support; the PORC sector in particular, and the captive insurance industry in general, are poised for significant growth. TCI is also a well-known jurisdiction for Trust establishment and administration, and has a broad community of Trust Companies serving the needs of the internationally wealthy.
Add to this a significant number of investment fund managers and Swiss and Canadian private banks. Our development as an IFC is clearly aligned to our brand as a leisure destination: quality, not quantity, and focused very much on the high net worth (HNW) community. The overall cost of operating in the TCI compares favourably with other mainstream captive insurance jurisdictions. The jurisdiction is welcoming to new entrants to the market with a flexible and commercial regulatory approach.
CEO Inisght: How is the Turks and Caicos Islands’ pro-business investment climate best evidenced?
John Rutherford: The Turks and Caicos is a multi-party democracy, overseen by a British Governor, and all parties are fully committed to the further development of the economy through the strengthening of our operating environment. We have one of the strongest growth rates of any Caribbean island and run a healthy budget surplus. Confidence in the economy is evidenced by a S&P rating of BBB+ over successive years. We have no direct corporate, personal, inheritance or capital gains taxes and no exchange controls. There are also investment incentives and duty concessions for companies wishing to invest in our priority sectors, including Financial Services. The operating environment is underpinned by a strong judicial system based on English Common Law.
CEO Inisght: Which recent or forthcoming legislative and regulatory developments are you most excited about and why?
John Rutherford: We have recently enacted a cutting-edge suite of new Trust Laws and Regulations, making TCI one of the most flexible and user friendly jurisdictions in which to domicile a Trust. Very flexible, targeted regulation of Private Trust Companies, Vista style trusts and a host of other legislative initiatives have been enacted to enable TCI to compete with the very best jurisdictions in the world. TCI Company and Insolvency law is also undergoing a comprehensive review by the same drafting team who prepared the British Virgin Islands’ legislation with a view to creating the most modern corporate and insolvency legislation of any IFC in the world by mid-2017. The Banking Ordinance is under review, with a draft Ordinance being prepared for further consultation with the industry. A new International Insurance Ordinance will be prepared in 2017.
CEO Inisght: In light of the release of the “Panama Papers”, what reassurance can you provide to investors that the Turks and Caicos Islands constitute a clean, transparent and responsible jurisdiction?
John Rutherford: The Turks and Caicos is consistently ranked as a white listed jurisdiction, and has had no mention in the Panama Papers. Compliant with all international standards, committed to transparency, and with a strong regulator, the Financial Services Commission, TCI is an early adopter of CRS, and has fully implemented UK and US FATCA. Both the Private Sector and the Financial Services Commission are aligned behind a commitment to safe, responsible and transparent international financial services, and to continuing TCI’s well-deserved reputation as the cleanest IFC in the Caribbean.