Nassau, The Bahamas, April 3, 2014.  The University of the West Indies and the Bahamas Institute of Financial Services have agreed to work towards the establishment of the Caribbean Centre of Excellence for Financial Services.

The announcement was made at the 3rd Caribbean Conference on the International Financial Services Sector, hosted by The Caribbean Export Development Agency, on Wednesday afternoon by the Minister of Financial Services Commission for The Bahamas – Ryan Pinder.

“Based upon over three decades of experience in providing professional certification and expertise in the financial services sector, the Bahamas Institute of Financial Services is eminently placed to provide the level of international credibility to the centres offerings, this in conjunction with the University of the West Indies places the region in a extremely advantageous position to strengthen and advocate on behalf of a sector so critical to the region’s overall economic development,” he said

Pinder who made the announcement at a press conference said officials at the third Caribbean Conference on the International Financial Services Sector endorsed the agreement. “To be able to bring our talents to a regional level for human capital development, is certainly a paramount goal of the region through the leadership and direction of the Caribbean Export Development Agency, for me I am very proud to make this announcement today.”

According to Pinder the Centre of Excellence was also given the nod by governments across the region.

In endorsing the proposed establishment of the Centre of Excellence, Barbados’ Minister of Minister of Industry, International Business Commerce and Small Business Development, Donville Innis said this symbolizes a new level of commitment to facilitating growth in the sector.

“Our meetings have highlighted the importance of the financial services to our various economies and the need for us to work in a stronger collaborated manner. Many of these challenges that confront us, emanate from outside the region, but we have a wonderful opportunity now to seize the opportunities that present themselves and to run forward with them. I’m sensing a renewed level of energy and a renewed level of  energy and commitment to work across the Caribbean Sea to ensure that we fully understand the challenges….,” Innis said.

And Dr. Clarence Henry, Antigua and Barbuda’s Ambassador to the Caribbean Community (CARICOM) said the Centre will allow all IFC’s to further develop their products, “For Antigua and Barbuda this marks a hallmark of something that has been long looked for, the establishment of a school of excellence – an institute that can provide enhance training in financial service disciplines. It will allow all IFC’s in the region to further develop their products and this bodes well for the economies of the individual territories.”

As it relates to funding  – Pinder said the details are being fine-tuned.  “We will look to a variety of sources ….we have been speaking and have cooperation we think with the European Union. A planning committee will also be put in place as we continue to build on the work being done and hopefully we will be in a position in the very short term to finalise the plans.

Concerning the role of the University of the West Indies, Deputy Dean n the Faculty of Social Sciences at the UWI’s Cave Hill Campus, Dr. Don Marshall, said the University has been committed to providing institutional and research support into the activities of international financial service centres.  He noted that for too long the area has been under researched.

“While the UWI has been serving the region well in relation to building up skills and so on, we have not paid enough attention as a University in producing sufficient knowledge that would assist in defending the sector, setting quality benchmarks and responding in a much more proactive way to the kinds of pressures that we face as we are asked to undertake a treadmill of ever changing regulations,” he said.

The creation of a regional centre of excellence in financial services has been touted as the only way forward if the region is to face the challenges and volatility of the global world of financial services.

At the start of the conference on Monday, Pinder said the Caribbean must commit to developing a platform of education and training regionally as international financial centers, particularly those in the region are being forced to re-assess their positions, their products and service offerings.

By Kathy Barrett

Pictured from left:

1. Dr. Nicola Virgill-Rolle, Director of Financial Services, Ministry of Financial Services of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas

2. Dr. Don Marshall, Deputy Dean, Faculty of Social Sciences, University of the West Indies

3. Pamela Coke-Hamilton, Executive Director, Caribbean Export

4. The Hon. Ryan Pinder, Minister of Financial Services of the Commonwealth of The Bahamas

5. The Hon Donville Inniss, Minister of Industry Business Commerce and Small Business Development, Barbados

6. His Excellency Ambassador Dr Clarence Henry, Antigua and Barbuda