Once pioneers in boat building, agriculture and, further back, even a little privateering, Guernsey has consistently demonstrated an ability to adapt to commercial opportunities. For the past 30 years, the island has been recognised for developing a valuable financial services industry, which has grown rapidly to become the major employer of more than 6,500 people, contributing around 44% of Guernsey’s GDP.
The local finance industry prides itself on its reputation for innovation and a high standard of regulation. A wide breadth of services are offered – investment funds, trust and fiduciary, banking and insurance are all significant sectors, well supported by more than 150 Guernsey-qualified lawyers and more than 500 qualified accountants. The island’s tax-neutral status and record in tackling money-laundering and financial crime is recognised globally.
While finance leads, the capability and financial skill-set of the wider workforce has contributed greatly to the success of other industries. The island’s largest private employer is the optical giant Specsavers. The company was founded on the island and remains the headquarters for their global operation. The advent of the digital revolution brought with it an expanded creative sector, a prosperous e-gaming industry and has hatched a new generation of fintech startups that continue Guernsey’s proud tradition of developing new concepts and ideas.
A significant factor in Guernsey’s success is a stable government that enables and encourages business. As a self-governing jurisdiction, the island has created a competitive tax regime for both individuals and businesses. Corporate taxes start from 0% and personal taxes are set at a flat 20%. There are no taxes on inheritance, capital gains or goods and services. The open and transparent tax system is compliant with international standards and the island has a host of double tax treaties and information exchange agreements in place.
Guernsey’s small size – just 65 sq km – is viewed as a major advantage by those doing business here. All of the agencies, regulators, businesses and government departments are only ever a short stroll away, which makes it fast and simple to discuss new initiatives and proposals. For individuals, it also means a very short commute and the beach is never more than a few kilometres away. It’s simply the perfect home for those looking to rebalance their lifestyle while continuing to work at an international level. ν