Equity Bank targeting local private banking

Equity Bank And Trust (Bahamas) has become the latest “offshore” institution to target the local financial services market by offering private banking services to Bahamians.

The financial services provider, which said it has received approval from the Central Bank to act as an authorised Bahamian dollar agent, explained that the regulator’s recent exchange control liberalisation measures had made it more attractive to enter the domestic segment.

In a statement, Equity Bank and Trust said it will be able to give Bahamians greater access to global financial markets through expertise and knowledge its staff has built-up working for international clients over the past 30 years.

“Until recently Bahamians have been limited to traditional local investment options, such as shares in local companies and government bonds,” said Equity’s chairman Ivylyn Cassar.

“The Central Bank’s liberalisation of exchange control recognises the desire by Bahamians to participate in the buying and selling of shares beyond The Bahamas, and to access other international investment services.

“We believe our track record and experience in helping our international clients achieve financial success can be duplicated to assist Bahamians expand their investment options.”

Equity Bank and Trust’s move also coincides with regulatory reforms that break down the “wall” that previously separated the Bahamian financial services industry’s domestic and international/offshore sectors.

This move, designed to meet the European Union’s (EU) demands for an end to “ring fencing” - meaning the elimination of preferential tax benefits offered to the international sector but not its domestic counterpart - allows “offshore” institutions to enter the Bahamian dollar market once they have the necessary regulatory approvals.

Equity Bank and Trust’s plans follow those of rivals such as Corner Bank (Overseas), which recently launched its “Cornertrader” platform to enable Bahamians to directly invest in a wide ramge of international securities.

Equity’s product offerings to Bahamians include custody, brokerage and asset management services; investment fund incorporation and administration services; trust and creditor protection services; estate administration and retirement planning; FinTech (financial technology) consultancy and corporate services offerings. It will also facilitate the Central Bank’s approval process for exchange control requirements in relation to international investment opportunities.

“Our online banking and mobile responsive websites and terminals are testament to Equity’s forward thinking approach to digital banking. We are poised for FinTech consultancy and solutions for the local market,” said head of business development and FinTech, Delphino Gilbert Cassar.