Trinidad and Tobago: The Financial Nexus of the Latin American and wider region
Trinidad and Tobago has leveraged the economic success of its oil and gas economy to sustain its emergence as the hub of the Latin American and wider region for financial services. The country is a preferred destination for the issuance of debt instruments (over USD 12 billion as at June 2014); several international capital markets players to have a footprint; and a pool of well-trained, Capital Market-savvy professionals.
With credit ratings from Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s placing Trinidad and Tobago as the fifth and eighth best in the Western Hemisphere respectively, after countries such as the U.S., Canada and Chile – the international market responded overwhelmingly to the issue of a bond of USD 550 million. This demonstrated that there is heightened confidence in the nation’s economy.
In the last year, a new Securities Act and expanded insurance regulations have been put in place to support the continued development of the financial sector, while a Financial Intelligence Unit exists to deal with anti-money laundering and terrorism financing.
Best practices will drive future growth
Already recognised as the financial centre of the Caribbean with USD 12 billion worth of debt being issued in the market for governments of the region, Trinidad and Tobago holds great potential for international expansion. In this regard, the focus for the Trinidad and Tobago IFC has been on the development of transformative IFC-specific legislation, based on the best, most relevant, international standards and practices. The Company has also sought out and built strategic international partnerships to enable this country to achieve listings on leading IFC indices such as the Global Financial Centres Index, which would result in greater awareness of this country’s investment opportunities. The best-in-class, investor-protection legislation developed by the Trinidad and Tobago IFC will create a fully transparent, robust yet flexible and responsive framework that will further drive the growth of the financial sector. This legislation, based on standards used by emerging IFCs such as the Dubai International Financial Centre, will create a unique authority with a business development arm, a financial services branch, and a court to expeditiously address any disputes. Those institutions operating within the authority would function under specific rules and laws, and the court would adjudicate according to those laws. The Trinidad and Tobago IFC Authority would be managed by members of a board with oversight from a Trinidad and Tobago IFC Council that consists of relevant government ministers. Through market research and consultation, it was established that this framework is what is required to create the ideal business environment to attract international financial institutions, making T&T a game changer in the global marketplace.
BPO proposition a ‘silver lining’ for T&T
Conversely, the country’s FINeSS proposition is geared towards operations in Finance and Accounting (F&A), Banking, Financial Services and Insurance Business Process Outsourcing (BPO). With many qualified accounting graduates seeking opportunities to fully utilize their technical proficiency, the Trinidad and Tobago IFC systematically positions Trinidad and Tobago as the region’s premier nearshore location for F&A BPO services to the world’s leading BPO firms. The Trinidad and Tobago IFC has also been promoting and training these young professionals for the brand new careers which will become available to them, once these firms set up operations within the country. In early January 2016, a report released by A.T. Kearney placed this country at 42 out of 55 countries analysed for the Global Services Location Index. This was the first time that Trinidad and Tobago was listed on the report entitled On the Eve of Disruption. The report explored the top contenders in the global BPO market and analysed what sets them apart across three major categories: financial attractiveness, people skills and availability, and business environment. This rating demonstrates our increasing international profile as a BPO service provider and represents a ‘silver lining’ during the economic downturn. It also underscores the leading role that the expansion of the financial sector will continue to play in achieving diversification and ongoing economic prosperity.
A Clear Path to Diversification
We know that our vision to be a leading destination for financial services means that we continue to innovate and introduce practical solutions that breathe new vitality into our programmes and interactions with foreign direct investors. The Trinidad and Tobago IFC has been entrusted by the government, and by extension the people of this country, with delivering diversification and ongoing economic prosperity. In addition to serving as a source of fresh thinking and global insight, the Company is well equipped to deliver on its mission-critical assignment.