Mauritius ‘well placed’ as domicile for Southern Africa products: report

Mauritius is “well placed” to become an important offshore domicile for funds and investment products that are distributed in Southern Africa, according to a study conducted by a Mauritius-domiciled life company. 

Some 15% of the more than 200 independent financial advisers operating in Southern Africa who were surveyed by Providence Life said they currently make use of offshore products  domiciled in at least one international financial centre (IFC), the company said in a statement on Friday, unveiling the survey’s results.

Providence Life is an international life group which has its operational headquarters in Dubai. It was founded in 2010 by Austin Blair, the company’s chief executive, who has sought to position it as an agile and tech-savvy alternative provider to compete with such large, established providers as Zurich, Friends Provident International and Generali. Because it is privately held, little is known about who owns it, its revenues or other financial details.

Mauritius is an island nation located around 2,000 km (1,200 mi) off the southeast coast of Africa, giving it a geographic advantage in accessing the Southern African market, compared to many other traditional offshore jurisdictions used by life companies.

According to Providence Life’s research, Mauritius is “already well regarded as an international financial centre” by advisers in Southern Africa, with “some 13% see[ing] it as their first choice as a trust domicile for their clients’ retirement needs”, and another 49% of whom regard it “as a logical second choice”.

‘Flexible products’ sought

Providence Life CEO Blair said a key finding in the research was that the IFAs surveyed said they were looking for “imaginative product providers that offer flexible products”: almost half, or 43%, said this was the “most important” feature in their choice of provider.

“Another 13% highlighted product choice,” he added, with “credible protection of investors” the third most important consideration.

Among the other findings of the study were the fact that not much would need to change for Mauritius-based funds and investment products to attract much more attention from IFAs in Southern Africa than they currently do. Among the ways this could be achieved, Providence Life suggested, would be for there to be more and better collaboration between product providers and Mauritius’s regulators, in order to “strengthen the island’s reputation and appeal to new fund and product providers”.

Commenting on the findings of the research, Blair suggested that one of the results of last week’s UK referendum which is set to see Britain leave the European Union could be more and better opportunities for those international financial centres that are located further away from the EU – such as Mauritius.

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