The past 3 months or so have seen me teaching in the UK, the Channel Islands, the Isle of Man, Dubai, Bahrain and the British Virgin Islands. This is good for the airmiles, but also gives me a great insight into the demand placed upon compliance professionals who come from a variety of backgrounds, industry sectors and jurisdictions.
Having had the chance to reflect on what I have learned, it is apparent that there are some clear differences (you would expect) but also similarities.
The differences are varied. A lot depends on the concerns that apply in the various locations, but they are also reflective of the prevailing themes in the broader regulatory environment. Here’s a quick summary:
In the UK the regulatory environment seems to be continuously evolving – the existing regulators have only been in place for 14 months, and consumer credit regulation has just transferred to the FCA from the OFT. Add in the recent developments in mortgage regulation and we can see that change is a constant. So a nice straightforward environment for practitioners then…
In the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, the issue of credibility of the markets is high on the agenda – crucially centred on not being seen to be haven for tax avoidance (or evasion), especially with media attention on international firms and high profile celebrities’ tax affairs.
In the Middle East, the financial services marketplace is quite diverse. The Dubai International Financial Centre (regulated by the Dubai Financial Services Authority) is quite different from the UAE financial market (which is regulated by the Securities and Commodities Authority) and there are various economic and political factors in play across the broader region. The social unrest in some areas of the region also seems to pose additional challenges to regulators and firms in respect of stability and security.
In the BVI, which is one of the Caribbean offshore markets where ICT has a partnership with a local educational facility, there is a similar atmosphere to that in the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man – there is again a need for delegates to understand the efforts that are being made to improve credibility and transparency of the market – particularly where you hear the name ‘offshore centre’ in the media.
But the same
So what of the similarities? Well, despite all the diverse areas of focus, there is a constant which underpin all of the above – mitigating compliance risk, however it manifests. On a level more personal to our delegates, another similarity is to do with studying.
Many of the delegates I met were returning to study after a break and were understandably a little apprehensive about their ability to fit it in to their busy lives. So I am always pleased to be able to tell them that our workshops and online content/guidance are designed to help explain how this can be successfully achieved.
Finally - the one over-riding message I get from working with delegates in these various locations is that, without exception, everyone is there because they understand the benefits of the qualifications and they are keen to learn.
That is a great message to take away with me.
(Rod will be coming soon to a venue near you. Tour t-shirts and other official merchandise will be available from the ICT website in the near future)