Commerce House in Road Town is home to multiple financial services firms. (File photo: CLAIRE SHEFCHIK)

The Virgin Islands climbed four places to regain its title as the top financial centre out of 13 in the Latin America and Caribbean region in the 29th edition of the Global Financial Centres Index, which is released twice yearly by the London-based think tank Z/Yen Group.

As several other jurisdictions showed slower recovery amid the ongoing Covid-19 crisis, the VI climbed 14 places and 27 index points, becoming the top-ranked British overseas territory and ranking 58th out of 114 total jurisdictions.

First established in 2007, the GFCI provides evaluations of competitiveness and rankings for the major financial centres around the world.

“It is good to see the BVI increase its ranking in this global index,” said Elise Donovan, CEO of BVI Finance. “This is testament to the continued hard work of our outstanding financial services sector and the BVI’s world-class and progressive financial regulatory regime.”

The new index marks a big jump for the VI over the last index, released in September 2020, which saw the VI plummet 12 spots to a ranking of 72nd out of 111.

The previous index saw the VI ranked fourth in the Latin America and Caribbean region behind Bermuda, the Bahamas and Mexico City, only to top all of them this time around.

The Cayman Islands, meanwhile, climbed six places, and ranked fifth in the Caribbean and 72nd overall, up from 78th in the September index.

Regional report

Overall, the region showed an upward trajectory in the 29th index. Nine centres rose in the ratings in Latin America and the Caribbean after significant falls in the 28th index.

The average rating in the region rose 11.2 points. The VI was one of only three jurisdictions in the region to gain more than 10 places in
the rankings, along with Barbados and Santiago.

Meanwhile, Trinidad and Tobago and Bogota, Colombia entered the  index for the first time, ranking 97th and 100th overall, respectively, and 11th and 12th in the region.

In the overall index, New York retained first place with 764 index points, while London fell to only one point ahead of third-place Shanghai.

However, despite an “overall stability” in the top half of the rankings, nine out of the top 10 centres in the index fell in the ratings, with London and Tokyo each falling more than 10 points.

“With the top centres dropping, might this be due to central banks taking the reins during Covid-19?” the authors wrote.

Previous drop

The average rating of centres in the index dropped only 3.5 points the 28th index. By contrast, ratings dropped an average of 41 points from the 27th index (released in March 2020) to the 28th index, “which may indicate more confidence in the financial system
than in the first stages of the Covid-19 pandemic,” the authors wrote.

“The fact that overall ratings have not recovered to the levels that we saw in 2019 reflects the continuing uncertainty around international trade, the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and geopolitical and local unrest,”  the index noted.

Z/Yen partners with the China Development Institute, a thinktank based in Shenzhen, to produce the GFCI, which is updated every March and September and is created based on a combination of  quantitative data and survey responses from more than 8,500 financial services professionals.


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