Although acknowledging that the industry is suffering from the effects of a worldwide downturn in the financial services sector, he says that there is no need for panic.He rejects assertions that he is unduly talking up the economy, arguing that he is actually ‘trying to inject realism and a sense of perspective’ into the debate.In a week when it was announced that the equivalent of 83 jobs are to go at Standard Chartered Grindlays Bank, Senator Walker is intent on putting into proper perspective the realities of the situation.’Although these redundancies are very regrettable, they are symptomatic of the restructuring that global financial services business are carrying out,’ he said.
‘However, the Standard Chartered Grindlays managing director has informed me that the bank has confidence in Jersey’s future.
We have been chosen as the bank’s only European booking centre when it previously had others in London and Switzerland, and the bank is also investing about £20m in technology.’He added that although there had been staffing cutbacks, some sectors of the industry were still recruiting additional staff.Meanwhile, he has strongly rebutted comments made by stockbrokers Collins Stewart that the Island is moving into a ‘vicious downward economic spiral’ that will increase projected States budget deficits.’Of course the Jersey economy is not as buoyant as it was two years ago.
That is unavoidable, given the global downturn.
However, I part company with the Collins Stewart newsletter commentary when they say that the Island’s economy is “”on the rocks””, implying that Jersey is doing far worse than neighbouring economies and others further afield.’We are doing better than many finance centres around the globe.
Look at the City of London, where 40,000 jobs have gone in the last couple of years.
That puts things in perspective.
There have also been layoffs in the Isle of Man, Guernsey and even in Switzerland, where bankers are looking for work for the first time,’ he said.’Given that background, the Collins Stewart commentary was totally inappropriate, unacceptable, ill-informed, anecdotal hearsay and therefore unprofessional.
That is particularly regrettable coming from a firm of major stockbrokers responsible for giving professional financial advice.’He said that suggestions from the firm that Jersey was an expensive place to do business because of the increased costs of regulation and compliance were also misleading.
‘This ignores the fact that every other reputable centre has incurred the same level of costs as they move toward introducing the higher standards that Jersey has already implemented,’ said the P & R president.The Senator contended that rather than losing business to competing jurisdictions such as Switzerland, Jersey was gaining significant business.’I know that we have gained significant amounts of business from Switzerland and elsewhere.
In addition, we have met key finance industry figures responsible for making decisions on the location of very significant investments and they remain confident about the Island’s long-term future as a viable and professional centre,’ said the Senator.