Minister for Financial Services, Labour, and Trade, Honourable Lorna Smith, OBE, demonstrated her commitment to the growth of the financial services sector during the Solutions Forum held on June 27. With a resolute focus on driving the industry's expansion, Minister Smith shared her vision for the newly established Ministry, which aims to create a prosperous and inclusive society with a robust, sustainable, and future-ready economy fueled by innovation, digital transformation, and global competitiveness. 

Speaking to an engaged audience of close to 100 professionals, she outlined the strategic direction for the Ministry and its role in shaping the future of the financial services industry and emphasised the critical role of integrating labor and trade to achieve its success.

Her plans include streamlining bureaucracy, reducing red tape, and expediting decision-making processes to foster entrepreneurship and business growth in the British Virgin Islands (BVI). She further announced the appointment of a new Chair of the Labor Arbitration Tribunal, demonstrating the government's dedication to supporting the financial services and wider business community.

Recognising the importance of a strong economy, Minister Smith highlighted the need to nurture local talent and attract outstanding individuals from the BVI community. She called for increased leadership and mentoring from the financial services sector and proposed the establishment of an industry-wide programme to support young people.

In terms of trade, Minister Smith emphasised the untapped potential to attract investment, support innovation, and build resilience in the BVI. Plans for a more integrated approach to trade missions were unveiled, aiming to benefit not only the financial services industry but also other sectors of the BVI. She announced the upcoming trade mission to Guyana in August which will serve as an example to this approach.

Despite the challenges faced globally by the BVI, Minister Smith expressed confidence and assured the audience of her Ministry's commitment to collaborating with senior officials from the Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office.

Minister Smith went on to explain the need to refresh the narrative for BVI's financial services, expand and diversify the sector, and harness the BVI's position as a large ocean state. She proposed quantifying natural assets to protect and restore them, enabling the establishment of businesses based on their value, contributing to government revenues, and creating new opportunities.

Concluding her speech, Minister Smith announced the Fintech on the Seas 2024 conference, set to take place in the beautiful waters of the British Virgin Islands. The conference aims to bring together fintech innovators, startups, investors, regulators, and other stakeholders to foster collaboration, showcase innovative solutions, and promote the BVI as a leading fintech and digital assets hub.

Minister Smith conveyed her enthusiasm and determination to work with industry stakeholders to continue to develop a strategic vision and plan for the business and financial services industry. She encouraged practical measures to address current challenges and invited input and collaboration from the private sector.


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Adrianna Soverall
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