It’s no secret within the Blacktower family that we’re throttling up into expansion high gear, as our company’s Group Managing Director, John Westwood recently announced at our virtual conference in March of this year.
But it may have come somewhat as a surprise when the Caribbean region was identified among those markets Blacktower plans to enter in the near future. Granted, it’s not a region financial services companies with footprints in the larger global markets tend to shortlist for expansion. But that’s certainly not the case with Trinidad and Tobago, where we propose to establish what can be the service hub which will cover the southern Caribbean and provide a possible future launchpad into the Latin American markets, the latter of which are now more developed than in previous years.
As a financial services business, we venture into markets we believe we can add value; and because our focus is foremost on prospective clients with a growth mindset, we’re convinced we have the best people with the right skillsets, systems and tools to effect positive outcomes in our clients’ lives with the quality of financial advice we offer. T&T and the wider region presents us with those opportunities, and being in the southern Caribbean can also be another business that contributes to the profitability of our Group. So we are looking forward to making our own mark as we extend our reach.
The presence of a number of global titans in energy, manufacturing and financial services have been here for decades, and have been catalysts for the generation of individual and collective wealth over many years. Their presence here is a clear recognition of the value Trinidad & Tobago adds to their businesses. Indeed, many visitors from the UK, Europe and the world over are often quite surprised at how developed in twin island republic has become since its colonial days, having changed ownership hands from the Spanish to British since the 1700s.Though small in size, with a collective population of just over 7 million, Trinidad and Tobago, with its 1.4 million and Jamaica at 2 million, have the two largest, and most dynamic and vibrant financial services sectors in the region. Both islands are natural business competitors in the region with active, sizeable capital markets, with the participation by local and international banks. Large indigenous insurance companies that manage huge pension funds and private wealth management firms also in the mix, competing to manage institutional and individual HNW assets.
Ours is a rich and diverse social and business culture that has been shaped by a harmonious blend of local and immigrant peoples who worked together in first sugar cane, then cocoa and an economy which has settled into the petroleum and natural gas sectors since the early 1900s. It is 1970s transition to an oil and gas economy that has generated much of the wealth of this small twin-island nation. The course of our economic history also maps the presence of business support service firms: banks, auditing and accounting firms, manufacturing companies have set up here and in the Caribbean region, feeding off the business activity. So it’s not surprising to see the likes of BP, Shell, RBC, Citi, Deloitte, EY, PwC and other global players very much a part of the corporate landscape today, with each having a long history in Trinidad and Tobago.
Today, Trinidad & Tobago still holds on to the financial capital of the southern Caribbean and this sector is as diverse as its population, with more new entrants seking to do business each year.
The Sister Isle: Tobago.
Tobago was ruled at one time or the other by the Spanish, Dutch, French, and British. Tobago is where locals go to relax and unwind and is also a major tourist destination for Brits and Europeans. It is home to a small community of British and German expats who have decided to retire on the island.
Tobago’s contribution to our nation GDP is through tourism and is one of the fantastic destinations in the Caribbean. The home of golf and regattas, and the annual Powerboats Great Race, Tobago gets its share of visitors from all over the globe via direct flights from the US, UK and Europe. With all that activity that happens there, Tobago has its own potential Blacktower client base of “yachties” in the high end ocean sailing market.
The wealth management firms, though smaller than the banks, are quite active and comprise ex-banker formations of management buy-outs, competing for former private banking clients who’ve made their wealth from Trinidad’s oil and gas sectors over generations.ack over in Trinidad, competition is indeed high with all the major banks and financial services brands with a branch network that spans the region.
In recent years, there has been a noticeable wealth transfer to younger generations, but the local financial offerings are still dated compared to what we’re accustomed using for our clients in the larger European and US markets. It means, too that naturally, the financial advice is as outmoded as the product solutions. This is a key service entryway for our company that allows us the opportunity to deploy the right people, supported by our existing robust administrative and compliance staff and systems.
As a born and bred Trinidadian who has worked the length and breadth of the region for over two decades, I am indeed excited at our prospects in a region. The regional market which is now very regulated, which is a plus for us and prospective clients are motivated buyers from financial advice firms with a high pedigree.
Blacktower Trinidad & Tobago will make an impact with our own Nexus Portfolios, and our NPML business will be competitive in the DFM space. I also look forward to making a pathway for my colleagues in the Cayman office and the trade desk to suit up for competition with the likes of JMMB and the other private trade outfits here.
We’re in the work of putting together a team of well-established and rising stars as we make our foray into the business of wealth management and financial advice in T&T.
We look forward to announcing our entrance soon as we’re into the necessary phases of seeking regulatory licenses and the usual activities that go into setting up operations. In the meantime, it’s about identifying possible collaborations, partnerships with other advice professionals here, over in Jamaica and the smaller islands along the archipelago. Fingers crossed, you’ll be hearing the good news soon!