Local association says enthusiasm bodes well for the industry and for its own upcoming STEP event
NASSAU, BAHAMAS — The Bahamas puts its best foot forward with an impressive presence at the annual STEP LATAM Conference held in Bogota, Colombia, with industry experts from around the world showing strong interest in Bahamian financial services.
The Society for Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) held this year’s Latin American Conference under the theme: ‘Building Knowledge Across Borders: Advising Families Today and Tomorrow’. The sold-out event attracted more than 420 delegates from 32 countries from around the world.
As the Bahamas gears up to host its own second annual conference in 2024, local organizers reported that they were very encouraged by the enthusiasm for the jurisdiction among attendees.
“There was a lot of interest in the Bahamas expressed by the delegates in Bogota and we expect a large international representation from delegates at our 2024 STEP Bahamas Conference,” said Theo Burrows, Chairman of STEP Bahamas, who was in attendance in Bogota.
Don Stubbs, Director of Scotia Wealth Management Miami, said: “The STEP LATAM Conference had an awesome program with forward-thinking topics presented by world-class speakers. The networking opportunities were excellent and allowed him to continue to showcase solutions that the Bahamian market can provide.”
Among the participants were the presenting sponsor of The Bahamas, Michael Halkitis, Minister of Economic Affairs, who underlined the importance of the conference, The Bahamas’ permanent participation in STEP and the financial services sector to the country.
“The Bahamas is always happy to support STEP LATAM. The Ministry of Economic Affairs’ Financial Services Unit as well as a wide range of our private sector stakeholders, make it a priority to actively participate each year as we fully support STEP’s mission to advance the sector,” said the Senator. “The financial services sector is quite important to The Bahamas as a source of employment and diverse contributor to our economy.”
Halkitis also spoke on the inherent advantages of The Bahamas: “Our financial services industry is built on three foundational elements.The first of these elements encompass our inherent jurisdictional advantages, which refers to our proximity to the US (our main trading partner) our status as a tax-neutral nation and our political stability and relative economic success.
The second core element is what we describe as measured innovation. Carefully crafted innovations like the Investment Condominiums (ICONs), the highly adaptive SMART Funds and our framework for the regulation of digital assets have positioned us as a highly competitive jurisdiction and the third element is our unparalleled local expertise”.
The conference brought together many of the best thinkers in the industry, discussing a wide range of topics, including advisors’ and trustees’ accountability in estate planning; the Corporate Transparency Act (USA); trusts and forced heirship rules; trends in substance and other such requirements in international tax planning and more.
Conference delegate John Lawrence, CEO of the Windemere Group and immediate past president of the STEP LATAM Conference, stated that he was impressed with the overall turnout at the conference, which included 25 representatives from The Bahamas.
“The presentation by Minister Halkitis was well-received by the delegates and affirmed that The Bahamas should be on your short list of jurisdictions for international estate planning.”
The Bahamas Financial Services Board and The Winterbotham Trust Company Limited were present among this year’s sponsors. The Bahamas Ministry of Economic Affairs Financial Services Unit, Presenting Sponsor, hosted the final day’s Gala Dinner.
This year’s conference also represents the 12th Annual STEP LATAM event which has rotated through Panama, Mexico City, Playa del Carmen, Montevideo, Sao Paulo, Cartagena and Miami.