How are you innovating your business?
Indrani Foster: In this ever-changing dynamic business environment, companies must continue to evolve to keep pace with the rapid business and policy changes in all areas e.g. IT, Tax, Corporate and Accounting. Platinum keeps abreast of these changes by attending conferences, following key participants in the local and international business sector and limited aspects of social media. We learn about the successful approaches and, if they are considered relevant, we embrace them to suit our environment. We have combined effective administration and IT to create a readily available electronic filing system which allows us to respond promptly to clients queries.
Continuous education, current IT hardware and software, networking and improvement in areas relevant to our business are keys to our success.
What opportunities do you see in internal/external markets for your business?
Stephen L. Greaves: Notwithstanding the fact that Platinum has provided limited services to local clients to date, we monitor opportunities for the business through legislative changes and staying informed of trends in business process outsourcing based on the needs of local enterprises. There is much talent in Barbados and with the ongoing support and encouragement for entrepreneurship, Platinum is receptive to certain opportunities as they arise.
With regard to the external environment, we stay informed of changes in legislation in the overseas source markets or developments in global markets, negotiations of new treaties, attending seminars both local and overseas, monitoring changes in requirements established by institutions such as the OECD (e.g. Base Erosion and Profit sharing ‘BEPS’ and Common Reporting Standards (CRS)).
We are excited about future opportunities for the sector with new products like International Securities Market, Private Trust Companies Act, Foundations Act and Incorporated Cell Company Act.
What is the key to your continued success and expansion e.g. human resources etc.?
Indrani Foster: We believe our competitive advantages are timely and accurate responses, value added services, understanding our clients corporate needs and a robust administrative system which includes reporting schedules of systems and procedures. These systems allow easy retrieval and submission of reports when required and clients are often impressed by fast turnaround times.
Platinum does not provide these services in a vacuüm; we are supported by very strong local legal, tax and corporate service providers whom we work with to meet clients’ needs. Some of the global projects we work on often involve as many as 20 jurisdictions, numerous departments and over a hundred personnel and there has never been a failed or late submission from Barbados’ office represented by Platinum.
What major challenges are you encountering if any?
Indrani Foster: As a jurisdiction we all need to play our part in removing several impediments to the continued growth of the sector. Over the years it has become increasingly difficult to recruit employees who appreciate the demands of the IBFS sector and its stakeholders and who are therefore prepared to do more than is necessary to get the tasks done accurately, efficiently and thoroughly. The qualifications of the workforce are not an issue in Barbados. Platinum is fortunate to have a strong team who understand our clients and are trained to respond accurately and timely to ensure deliverables are met.
There are concerns about the high cost and bureaucracy of doing business in Barbados. While some of our CARICOM neighbours seem to be improving in these areas, Barbados appears to be losing favour. As Team Barbados, we need to overcome the poor customer service which is being offered across industries.
What is the potential impact on Barbados in terms of employment, foreign exchange earnings and national competitiveness?
Stephen L. Greaves: Should Barbados fail to implement the necessary steps to facilitate the growth of the IBFS sector, the potential fallout is huge, too significant a risk to Barbados’ prosperity. Reportedly there could be more than 4, 000 high-end, value-added jobs at stake. These are the tertiary level jobs that can propel an individual’s career, including providing potential opportunities to export Barbadian skills overseas in various professional areas.
It is estimated that $670M of foreign exchange is earned annually by the IBFS Sector. The primary economic beneficiaries are the Government’s tax and foreign exchange revenue coffers, the hospitality sector, the banks, real estate owners and so on. By far the next most significant benefit of the IBFS sector to Barbados is the transfer of knowledge and technology to our shores. This is a priceless commodity which has helped the jurisdiction to remain globally competitive during the past 50 years.
What should we be doing to more of in Barbados to facilitate your business?
Stephen L. Greaves: The service departments should be providing a faster turnaround time and less bureaucracy for business transactions which seek their approval. Corporate Affairs and Intellectual Property Office recently did some training for Registry’s Online Filing System and this should expedite the process.
There should be a faster tax refund payments cycle by the local tax authorities which will allow entities to expand their business by marketing, IT, networking etc.
If BIBA had the resources, collaboration with the institutions like UWI could improve the knowledge of service providers in Barbados’ IBFS sector on Double taxation treaties, BITS, product legislation and Anti-money Laundering etc.. But agencies now have limited resources with the reduced budget allowances to complete their mandate.
Some form of tax rebate to small businesses who invest in Technology, AML procedures and developmental training for its employees which are very costly could go a long way in helping businesses become successful.
Barbados is a great place to live and work, we have challenges but they are not insurmountable and we have the capacity to rise above them. We are a resilient people, we are Champions!