Guernsey Finance Chief Executive Rupert Pleasant reflects on his first few months in the job and the challenges the promotional agency has faced...
It wasn't so easy starting a new job in the middle of lockdown – particularly one where your mandate is to promote Guernsey around the world, and nobody is travelling.
But leading Guernsey Finance is a role I have been more than interested in for a while, and so to be given this opportunity – whatever the global circumstances – is both a challenge and a privilege.
After having met the GF team via Zoom and Teams calls, one of my first moves was to consider our global presence.
I am, by nature, a business development professional. I have worked in such roles across Asia, South Africa, Switzerland and in Guernsey, so it is an issue close to my heart, and one I am keen that we get right to maximise our opportunities in our chosen markets.
The first six months has given me the opportunity to see that we have got the right people in the right places.
We have bolstered the team in Hong Kong, attempting to take advantage of the political instability in the jurisdiction at the moment, and intend to develop more of a presence in 2021 in South Africa, Middle East and the US. We have never had a presence in the US – but we have evidence that business ties are strengthening, particularly in private equity, and it could be the right time for this.
Obviously, it has been a turbulent time and I would like to praise our team for being able to come away from a physical world and move completely into the digital world so quickly. Next year I expect we will be operating in a different, hybrid world.
I do think our reputation has been enhanced through the island's response to Covid-19.
I know people are aware of our regulatory regime, our stability, and now our response to Covid, and are thinking "that's a place we can do business with, that's a place where we can put our money".
Our green and sustainable initiatives now have to be at the forefront of everything we do. There is a lot of talk around now about those topics, and ESG, and building back better, and we were pioneering this before it came to the fore. So that remains important for us, and if we can be internationally recognised for that, I think it will help the island as a whole.
Over the next few years if we can persuade people that Guernsey is a force for global good, then that will give me a high degree of satisfaction without doubt.
Guernsey Finance has been frequently mentioned for increased funding by the new States of Guernsey's Policy & Resources Committee. We have outlined our plans for how we would use the extra funding to the committee – broadly I would see us investing more in business development, alongside more research projects and public relations effort.
As always, there is a lot to do. I look forward to getting on with it in 2021, and hopefully making some contacts face-to-face outside of the island over the next 12 months.
For more information about Guernsey's finance industry please visit www.weareguernsey.com.
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