In 2020 I remember looking back to 2008 when I had returned to the Island from working across other locations and reflecting on the changes we’d seen in such a relatively short period of time and clearly noting that the pace of change had outstripped anything that had come before – both globally and on our Island.
More generally we’d seen the economic crisis of 2008 leading to a whole decade of financial prudence, we’d seen unprecedented political turmoil across major continents – not least of which President Trump and Brexit, and we’d seen unimaginable technological revolution - the release of the first iPad transforming tablet working and of course mainstream adoption of cloud technologies.
On the Island whilst long term economic growth continued, the period marked again a more prudent approach following what was commonly termed the VAT adjustment where the Island lost 1/3 of its revenue over a few years. The political turmoil affecting the globe largely left the Island unaffected but the technological revolution clearly started to permeate across Island life in the same way it did across the rest of the world.
Now sitting here in 2030, and looking back to 2020, it’s clear that despite the level of change that preceded 2020, the pace and scale of change that has since occurred has outstripped it – and then some. At an economic level, at a global level, at a technological level and at an Island level.
The pace of change simply got faster and faster and business, and society and industry embraced a revolution that transformed every aspect of our daily interactions, and fundamentally our way of life.
In terms of financial services, it’s now fifty years since the sector first developed on the Island, and although there have been many challenges along the way, the Isle of Man has continued to have a strong international client appeal across a broad range of areas.
In line with the Island’s strong heritage in innovation and reinvention, the Island was able to positively capitalise on the huge surge in wealth and global employment that occurred in the early 20s.
Our banking industry remains a strong proposition for the British family of globally mobile workers and expats whose numbers have increased dramatically as more and more people live and work in new locations, with 20 international banks from all corners of the globe now here - traditional and more recent ‘challenger banks’. The Isle of Man is well renowned as a safe and expert jurisdiction for wealth management, and international banking underpins this whole proposition.
International insurance has also continued to develop, with the Island still home to the largest concentration of international life firms focused on the British family, anywhere in the world.
And our fiduciary sector remains as strong as it did 10 years ago, with the need for asset protection and global structuring in increasing demand.
Jobs however have fundamentally changed with compliance roles as an example - once a source of growth in demand, having been all but automated using sophisticated algorithms and artificial intelligence - and the compliance expertise now being much more about understanding and creating the rules, flagging and investigating the exceptions, as well as monitoring the logic that fuels the complex systems that operate around the clock.
Customer service has continued to be important though - more so than was probably envisaged ten years ago where predictions of automation were rife. We are in a technology driven world, where time pressured citizens across the planet value their time and the ability to speak to an expert when they want to, and importantly value that the advisor and firm are located in a responsible jurisdiction that has outstanding credentials in sustainability and climate responsibility - things the Island is now as well known for as the TT and Manx Cats.
Of course technology has transformed all of our sectors - which have continued to evolve and adapt. Our farming industry has harnessed agri-tech to a large extent dramatically increasing productivity and quality and has tripled in size using vertical farming techniques to grow exemplary vegetables and crops in demand across the globe based on the islands long standing biosphere credentials.
The Cannabis and hemp industry have also been transformed from humble roots ten years ago to what is now our number one export, again based on the high bio diversity credentials and strong regulatory regime that the island has boasted for many years across other sectors.
As the world around us has transformed, we have hugely benefited from the influx of people who were once called digital nomads who now have found their home on our beautiful Ellan Vannin. We have successfully attracted young people with new skills from all around the world - a complete reversal of what was historically an annual outflux of young talent away to university.
Of course some of our young people still do travel away, and increasingly then experience the global workplace, but we have successfully attracted the brightest and best from around the world to create a rich and diverse eco system - people who greatly value the unique blend of working for global brands inside a safe and tranquil setting that offers a spellbinding location and extraordinary adventure , whilst still being instantly connected to the rest of the world and physically connected with great transport links.
Our biosphere credentials have helped differentiate us and appeal to a whole new audience of new citizens.
Despite all this change and technological transformation, our culture and heritage continues to play a large part in Island life , and has been picked up by a new wave of ‘new Manx ‘ who have embraced the Island and everything she has to offer.