Comment: Jersey's digital Registry

Written by: Jersey Financial Services Commission Posted: 12/01/2021

BLDigital_JulianLamb_JFSC_jan21Julian Lamb, Registrar at the Jersey Financial Services Commission, on building a resilient digital Registry for Jersey

The past year has been a year like no other. But it didn’t stop us at the Jersey Financial Services Commission (JFSC) from taking on one of our most substantial and ambitious projects to date – totally upgrading the Registry and moving all our services online. The new Registry is ready to be unveiled to customers in February 2021. 

It has been a huge undertaking for the organisation, but an essential infrastructure investment to ensure that we continue to meet and lead the way in international standards – as well as giving all our customers the levels of service they expect. 

Jersey’s strong infrastructure continues to evolve and contribute to the attractiveness of the jurisdiction – as one of the world’s leading international finance centres. Coordinated efforts between island agencies and businesses continue to develop a safe, stable and well-regulated environment for the international business and investment communities.

The island’s international reputation in financial services is also critically linked to the reputation of the JFSC. To preserve and grow that reputation in a fragmented and fast-changing international marketplace, we must be dynamic, robust and increasingly effective. 

The new Registry will allow us to be just that, thanks to the technology in which we have invested. We have worked hard to make sure that the new systems we have put in place deliver efficiencies for our Registry team and offer easier to use self-service facilities for the many businesses that use the Registry.

Primarily, though, we have prioritised security – with the amount of data we hold on our multiple registers, we needed to make sure that it is protected.

We have done these things by building new platforms and an application programming interface (API). This will dramatically change how we interact with customers and how we manage the data we hold.

It also provides Jersey trust companies with new opportunities to move to the next stage in their own digitisation programmes.

The new digital Registry, which includes the customer portal myRegistry, is more accessible and efficient, and gives registry users more flexibility to manage their own information. 

Two key changes

The new Registry will have a significant bearing on how the finance industry operates post-2021. Companies will no longer have to submit an annual return before the end of February each year. 

Instead, they will just need to confirm that all the information we hold on the register for them is up to date, by filing an annual confirmation statement.

This will be pre-populated with the information we already hold in the Registry, so verifying its accuracy will be done with the click of a button. 

The second change is that now, under the new law, we will be collecting more information about Jersey companies. As a result, businesses will need to provide us with details of their directors and secretaries, which will be held on the central registers moving forward.

Recognising these are big changes for Jersey companies, we have extended the deadline for the first digital annual confirmation statement period, so companies have until the end of April to get up to speed with the system and submit their statement.

As the Registry becomes larger (there are currently 12 different registers), and new legislation and policies increase the requirements for us to provide accurate, adequate and timely data to law enforcement agencies and financial intelligence units, it is important that Jersey can demonstrate this data is correct. To do this, we will need to be able to enforce compliance. 

From April to June, we will be reviewing the data we hold on the new system and will start our work to implement automated and enhanced vetting, in accordance with changing international standards. We will also need to continually verify other higher-risk disclosures, such as activity and ownership.

We will be populating the central register of directors (and significant persons) between January and April, with the aim of making this public for the first time from 1 August 2021. 

In addition, we have started our preparation for the introduction of a public register of beneficial ownership, in line with emerging international practices and within the indicated timelines.

Jersey and the JFSC are committed to continuing to invest in our regulatory and registry infrastructures for the next decade, to ensure the quality of our regulation and our Registry capabilities continues. 

We know that we cannot serve the island and the finance industry by standing still. Throughout 2021, we will continue to review our digital policies and to roll out market-leading improvements to our systems and how we service our customers. This is, after all, intrinsically linked to Jersey’s reputation as a first-class finance centre. 

This article was first published in the Digital Edition of Businesslife in December 2020

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