Carey Olsen sponsors 21st IoD Guernsey debate

Posted: 10/10/2012

John Greenfield-Carey Olsen
Around 500 leaders from Guernsey businesses gathered at the annual Institute of Director's (IoD) Debate last week to discuss Guernsey's position on the global business stage and the future of the island.

The event, which is sponsored by Carey Olsen and, this year, was moderated by broadcast journalist Nick Ross, included panellists from Guernsey's finance, legal and commercial sectors as well as States of Guernsey representatives.

Reflecting on Carey Olsen's sponsorship of the event, the firm's managing partner John Greenfield (pictured) said: “We are not and should not be myopic. Hopefully the debate has encouraged our politicians and business leaders to, firstly, think seriously about the global changes that impact on our jurisdiction and, secondly, to define the areas where we need to remodel ourselves as a result of those changes. Guernsey has had to be flexible in the past and it is critical that we maintain that flexibility in the long term. ”

“Without a doubt, the IoD debate is the most important business event in Guernsey's calendar and provides a significant space for the island's leading professionals to gather, share their knowledge and experience and examine where Guernsey is and its possible future.”

The panel for the first half of the debate featured chief minister Peter Harwood, former Commerce and Employment minister Carla McNulty-Bauer, Doug Perkins, founder of Specsavers, and Andreas Tautscher, chief executive officer of Deutsche Bank in the Channel Islands. Horace Camp, chair of the Guernsey Investment Funds Association, Carey Olsen partner Tom Carey, investment expert Jon Moulton and Commerce and Employment minister Kevin Stewart were on the panel for the second half of the debate.

Key issues provoking debate on the night were the retention of local talent on the island and the island's housing and immigration policies.

Panellist Doug Perkins argued that Guernsey should consider a controlled input of world-class skills and experience and Andreas Tautscher supported this, stating that Guernsey's population would not need to grow by thousands but by hundreds of experts, imported to enable Guernsey's key industries to grow. It was noted by audience members that Guernsey is losing out on top talent to Jersey and other jurisdictions with more relaxed housing rules. Many attendees held that Guernsey's housing laws should be reviewed by the States of Guernsey as soon as possible.

It was also argued that Guernsey should provide incentives to attract young people back to the island in the future.

The second half of the evening focused on where Guernsey will be in the next 10 years, with Guernsey's relationship with Jersey acting as a significant catalyst for debate. Deputy Kevin Stewart reported that Guernsey will see significant generational changes in the next 10 years with a new breed of leaders taking the reins of some of the island's most established businesses. He highlighted that the island should be investing in infrastructure with digital technology noted as the most significant opportunity for Guernsey.

Members of the audience argued that Guernsey and Jersey's finance industries should not be seen as in competition with each other; instead the islands are competing with the rest of the world. Panellist Jon Moulton argued that if both islands are to succeed, consideration should be given to developing a single set of regulations that finance companies in both islands can use to attract new business to the Channel Islands.

Wilfred Emmanuel-Jones, otherwise known as the Black Farmer, acted as keynote speaker and delivered a motivational speech tracing his childhood, successful career as a producer and director for the BBC and marketer of food and drinks products, to fulfilling his lifelong ambition to buy a small farm and launch the Black Farmer products to supermarkets nationwide.

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