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IFCs’ role to be in focus at STEP conference

The role of international financial centres (IFCs) in promoting global economic growth and stability will be one of the key themes for the upcoming Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners Caribbean Conference set to be held in Bermuda this summer.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with

The Royal Gazette, conference chair Fredrica Butterfield said that the conference, which will be hosted at the Fairmont Southampton between May 16 and 18, would seek to dispel some of the notions that IFCs are tax havens and caused the economic crisis.

Ms Butterfield said 200 speakers and delegates from across the Caribbean, the US and Central and South America, including Barbados, the British Virgin Islands (BVI), the Cayman Islands, Panama, Uruguay and the Turks & Caicos as well as from as far afield as Europe, Austrialia and Singapore were expected to be in attendance, following up on the success of last year's event in Barbados which was a sell-out.

She said that while Bermuda was still in the throes of a recession and while the trust industry like every other sector had taken a big hit it was now was moving forward and leading the way - a fact that the conference would serve to highlight.

Ms Butterfield said that despite IFCs being perceived as one of the “elephants in the room” it was important to keep an open mind and it was essential to promote the reputation of the Caribbean region financial centre as a whole in terms of regulatory achievements and earning the respect of the international community.

“Some people think we exist simply as a safe tax haven,” she said. “But we want to dispel some of those myths and that is what we are going to seek to do at the conference.”

She said that while there were competitions for levels of service between the jurisdictions there was also a sense of complementing each other and working together to provide the best resources available, and she believes that the event will provide the ideal platform for Bermuda to showcase itself and bring in some business.

Ms Butterfield said that the highlights of the 13th annual conference included the Hamilton Lecture on ‘IFCs - Partners in Economic Growth', ‘Caribbean Financial centres - Are We Our Own Worst Enemies?' presented by Robert Mathavious, managing director and CEO of the BVI Financial Services Commission, who will look at the Caribbean responses to global regulation, and ‘Question Time: Ask the Experts' - an interactive panel session featuring Alec Anderson of Conyers Dill & Pearman in Bermuda, Chris McKenzie and Andrew Miller of Walkers, Tim Prudhoe of Krobe & Kim LLP, Heather Thompson from Higgs & Johnson, and Bruce Zagaris of Berliner Corcoran & Rowe LLP and covering all of the issues of trust and law practice.

Tracy Tepper of Lombard Odier Darier Hentsch Trust (Bermuda) Ltd will also be a panellist in the ‘We Will Survive' debate on the future of IFCs.

Other seminars to look out for range from ‘IFCs and the US Government: Analysis and Critique', which will be led by Richard Horowitz of Richard Horowitz & Associates Attorneys at Law and examine the US Government's views and perceptions of IFCs as safe havens for tax evaders and fraudsters and what the reality is to ‘Technology and the Increasing Mobility of the High Net Worth Client and Business', exploring the phenomenon of wealthy individuals mobility.

‘Working Together to Address Misconceptions About IFCs' and ‘LATAM - Estate Planning' will provide other topics for discussion at the conference, as will the latest Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development developments, the family office and all its complexities, the increasing trend to regional co-operation and the regions' close ties to Latin and South America and what that means for trust practitioners.

The event will kick-off with opening remarks from Ms Butterfield, Business Development and Tourism Minister Patrice Minors and STEP Worldwide chair Michael Young, while award-winning Harvard psychology professor Dr Brian Little will give a unique insight into the physiological differences that determine personality and the impact on people's daily business lives in his presentation ‘A cross between Robin Williams and Einstein'.

Business Bermuda is the presenting sponsor for the conference, while the Government of Bermuda's Ministry of Business Development and Tourism will be the Sunday launch sponsor and there are a host of other local sponsors.

There will also be a number of hospitality events for networking and idea exchanges as well as the opportunity to sample some of Bermuda's beaches and historic buildings.

For more information visit the website at www.stepcaribbeanconference.com

Fredrica Butterfield: Chair of the Caribbean STEP conference 2011 (Photo by Tamell Simons)

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Published March 24, 2011 at 9:58 am (Updated March 24, 2011 at 9:57 am)

IFCs’ role to be in focus at STEP conference

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