More effort should be made to attract reputable international providers of banking, custody and fund administration services, to assist in placing Cyprus on the map of credible fund jurisdictions, says Fiducenter MD George Savvides.
Corporate, trust and investment fund services provider, Fiducenter, was one of the very first companies licensed for the provision of administrative services by the Cyprus Securities and Exchange Commission (CySEC) and is a founding member and the First President of the Cyprus Fiduciary Association. The company’s head office is in Luxembourg – a major international financial centre providing top class professional services – which has supported Fiducenter Cyprus to stay ahead of the competition, both in terms of quality standards of bespoke services but also in staying up-to-date with the continuously growing volume of new international policies and regulation.
What are the key strategic advantages of Cyprus as an international business centre, and why should companies choose Cyprus over other jurisdictions?
Cyprus is a fully compliant, modern international business centre, which has chosen to not only comply with the huge wave of international developments, but to actually lead the way. It presents a proposition which is difficult to be matched in terms of taxation, ease of doing business, access to qualified and experienced personnel, skilled professionals and a plethora of other advantages, such as its strategic geographical position, its EU membership and lifestyle to name a just a few.
Which countries traditionally seek services from Cyprus, and which markets are presenting new opportunities?
Although the proposition of Cyprus is not aimed at specific jurisdictions and it can be utilised by any person in any country around the world, it has nevertheless developed, over the years, as a popular jurisdiction primarily for Russia and other CIS and Eastern European countries. Business ties with China and India seem to be developing stronger year on year, for the former more on the incentives offered by Cyprus with regards to residency and citizenship, while for the latter more on channelling investments into India. Developing countries could be regarded as opportunities for Cyprus to widen the range of business partner countries, especially in the Middle and Far East, as well as in Africa.
What new trends and patterns do you see emerging in your sector that could attract more business to Cyprus?
The turn towards fully compliant and transparent jurisdictions is the greatest opportunity for Cyprus to enhance its position in the international business arena. The need for substance and good corporate governance are also important factors, which could assist in this effort.
What niche services should Cyprus focus on to become a stronger player, and in what other ways can the country improve its status as an international and regional business centre?
Being the location of choice for setting up head-office operations is an area in which Cyprus should put more emphasis. Streamlining of certain procedures in order to make the quality of services provided by the public sector even better, the establishment of a plan for the international business sector and the enhancement of promotional efforts, are all factors which could help the country improve its status as an international business centre. At the same time, a serious effort should be made for attracting reputable international providers of banking, custody and fund administration services, something which would greatly assist the efforts currently underway for putting Cyprus on the map of credible fund jurisdictions.
What key challenges are facing your industry at the moment and how is Fiducenter attempting to tackle them?
The key challenges are related to new and updated regulations, which seem to be popping up from everywhere. From FATCA to CRS and from the EU’s Fourth AML Directive to BEPS, there is hardly any week that something new does not get in the picture. Being not only compliant, but actually leading the way in terms of full compliance with applicable laws and regulations has always been one of the strong points of Fiducenter. So coping with the huge wave of international developments, although challenging, feels like home for us. We can mention substance as an example. Fiducenter has been promoting substance since its establishment in Cyprus in 2005, at a time when it was a relatively unknown concept, especially in Cyprus. The same holds for full ‘Know Your Client’ identification. The fact that, up until regulation was introduced in Cyprus, we had to comply with the regulatory requirements of CSSF, the equivalent body to CySEC in Luxembourg, because of our head office there. This has given us solid foundations for what concerns corporate governance, internal controls, policies and procedures, as well as with regards to the overall business mentality and philosophy.
In terms of economic growth and development, what are your expectations for Cyprus in the coming years? And in light of this, what is Fiducenter’s growth strategy?
Having recovered to a great extent since the near-collapse of 2013, the economy of Cyprus is improving slowly but steadily. The international business sector has always been among the pillars of our economy, showing remarkable resilience, even during the peak of the recession. The sector is expected to continue keeping its position, adjusting of course in order to cope with the ever more important international developments. The contribution of tourism to the economy continues to be very important, and indeed with the record numbers of tourists over the last couple of years this is expected to develop even further. The same holds true for the maritime industry, as Cyprus is a key player both in terms of shipowning and particularly in terms of shipmanagement. At the same time there are promising signs from the energy sector, especially following the developments in our Exclusive Economic Zone in terms of natural gas and oil explorations. Fiducenter aims at maintaining and even improving its reputation as a top quality service provider and to continuously monitor and develop its range of services in order to meet and exceed the needs of its clients, and to ensure that it is always next to them, supporting the implementation of their plans and to meet the challenges they are faced with.