Exclusive interview: New Jersey Finance CEO on the challenges ahead

Pedro Gonçalves
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Exclusive interview: New Jersey Finance CEO on the challenges ahead

In his first interview since taking the role of Jersey Finance chief executive officer, Joe Moynihan talks to International Investment's Gary Robinson about the challenges facing the industry in the jurisdiction, the relationship between the sector, the regulator and government. He discusses the importance of delivering insight through research and a forward-thinking attitude which anticipates opportunities for the financial sector based in Jersey.

Moynihan started his professional life in the banking sector, rising to the position of CEO of Jersey and the Isle of Man for a major bank, which included responsibilities for trust and investment management businesses.

In recent years, he expanded his focus as director of financial services within the Government of Jersey, where he worked closely with industry and the regulator to maintain the Island's position as a leading international finance centre. Before joining Jersey Finance in February 2019, Moynihan was working to establish high-reputation regulatory frameworks and business models for IFCs in the Middle East and Africa. 

Jersey Finance plays a key role in that, working with the industry and the government to move those opportunities forward"

How are you enjoying your new role?
So far, so good! It is such a varied and interesting role, no two days are the same! I am not a complete stranger to Jersey Finance, obviously I've had contacts with Jersey Finance as an industry member and then naturally when I worked in the government, so I know the people and have worked with them before, albeit in a slightly different relationship to the one that we have now. So far, I have been very much focused on trying to understand all the moving parts in Jersey Finance because it's a very dynamic environment, with a lot of work that's happening on a continuous basis here.

Jersey Finance's strategy has been very successful and effective over the years, so the challenge is to continue to drive the business forward positively for the industry.

What is Jersey Finance's key role today?
Jersey Finance was originally set up in 2001 to represent and promote Jersey's international finance centre, funded by the industry and the government. The organisation has expanded quite a lot over the years in terms of its core purpose. Today, it's very much about delivering insight. Jersey Finance's role is to represent and promote Jersey as an international finance centre (IFC) of excellence. We are a central contact for journalists, and anyone connected with the finance industry, both locally and internationally, as a source of comment, industry updates and information. We provide, news, views and insights explaining the added value that Jersey as an IFC can bring to economies around the world. We work closely with key stakeholders to provide tools and resources that create opportunities for our finance industry professionals to successfully promote their individual organisations, products and services.

What type of insight?
We developed a bank of evidence-based research to highlight the positive impact Jersey has, not just on local and global economies, but on individuals around the world too. Our library of knowledge reaffirms the significant value we add, not just to the global economy but also to the international finance industry's transparency agenda. We are also keen to ensure that we are future-focused so we continue to be innovative and set ourselves apart from other jurisdictions. Jersey for example, is a world-class centre for fintech with a forward-thinking regulatory framework, which cements our standing as a highly-successful digital jurisdiction.

Is it still all about promotion?
As an award-winning jurisdiction, we have to avoid being complacent, so we have to keep evolving strategically, making sure the industry remains competitive and attractive to global investors while adhering to international standards and regulation. Based on our strategic plan and core objectives, we deliver an extensive overseas programme of visits and events in key target markets including the UK, Europe, Africa, Greater China, India, North America and the GCC. Through this structured activity, we are able to build strategic, meaningful relationships with investors needs in mind. We produce a wide range of engaging communications to support our stakeholders, to promote the many benefits Jersey offers as an award-winning IFC and to raise awareness about the value our jurisdiction adds to individuals and businesses in local and global economies.

You have some really strong people on the team, and you got some really strong people from the industry working alongside you. How is it possible to attract that level of talent?
I believe Jersey as a location has an extremely good reputation. We have a huge body of expertise and experience within the financial services sector, with experience across a broad range of different disciplines within financial services. People who work in our industry are passionate about its success and our industry's performance reflects this dynamic. With a great reputation, it makes it easier to attract good people. If you have a reputation for doing a really good job, you will have people who will be keen to work for you. 

How challenging is it to get several competing voices to speak as one?
One of the things that I have been doing since I got the job is touching base with people in the industry just to get feedback in relation to Jersey Finance and basically saying: ‘You know, tell me as it is. You don't have to be nice to me, I just arrived'. So far, the messages are all pretty consistent: The industry is very happy with Jersey Finance's role and the support it offers. We believe our collaborative relationship with industry, the regulator and government and other key partners, as well as our future-focused approach plays a positive and vital role in the success of Jersey's international finance centre. This collaboration helps us to ‘speak with one voice', making the right decisions together with the best interests of our industry and its success in mind.

Is there anything specific you want to bring to the table as the new CEO?
I think that one of the challenges of coming into a role that is has been historically successful is to ensure that you don't start changing things just for the sake of it. I have government experience and international experience and I think moving forward that can be used to evolve Jersey Finance in a positive way. Jersey Finance through its promotional work lays the foundations of opportunity for our industry to thrive, broadening and deepening relationships and forging links in key markets. So, if one comes in and says ‘I'm going to implement a lot of changes' that could infer some negativity towards what has been done before and that is certainly not the case. As a new CEO, I can clearly see the strategy is working and the industry is doing well, so it is my job to lead, inspire and support my team and the industry for our future success.

What do you think about Jersey's strategic approach to some of the current challenges it faces currently?
We cannot stay still because the financial landscape is continually evolving - we have proven that we can adapt quickly to not just opportunities, but to any challenges too.  The government and the regulator work hard to ensures Jersey is an internationally cooperative jurisdiction, for us to be seen as a good neighbour. That means that, we support the highest regulatory standards alongside offering the most attractive products and services to suit the needs of global investors.