10 years can make a vast difference to the business landscape and when you don’t know what the future holds it is difficult to plan for change. In my vision of 2030 the use of cash will be a rarity with changes being led by regulation and a drive to reduce money laundering and crime. Shops, restaurants and other public facilities will no longer accept cash and with this comes the ever increasing need for secure payment methods. The Isle of Man could easily lead the way by becoming the first cashless jurisdiction, a test bed for developing technology in secure payment methods and processing.
There has been a gradual shift in taxation towards operational indirect taxes and taxes based on where profits are generated and this may well continue to the extent that taxation becomes purely a compliance issue and not necessarily a consideration in where a business will locate its head office or branch. With employees becoming more mobile and being able to work remotely businesses will become less centralised. Where a business is taxed will move more towards where a business operates and where its markets are than where its employees, head office is based.
So what will be the driving force for where a business locates in 2030 and what can the Isle of Man do to bring business to its shores? My view is that providing a highly skilled workforce and access to technology will be key for the Islands success.
For the Island to continue to attract new businesses, maintain a stable economy and promote growth by creating jobs it is imperative that it becomes a centre of excellence in training the skills required for the workforce of the future. This creates a cluster effect with businesses locating where they can get staff and technical resources.
Focus will also be on the lifestyle a jurisdiction can offer with people wanting to live and work in environmentally friendly locations with a move away from centralised cities. The Island has a head start in this, there are few places that have such natural beauty and clean air. The challenge for the Island will be maintaining this beauty whilst encouraging the working population to grow in order to support the facilities that make the Island an enjoyable place to live such as good health facilities, schools, and leisure facilities.
But what is ultimately keeping CEO’s of 2030 up at night? It has to be compliance with regulations and data protection. The island's regulations need to keep pace with global expectations so that Island businesses can continue to operate internationally. A business operating internationally has to consider not only the regulations in its home jurisdiction but also all the compliance obligations of every jurisdiction in which it operates which takes up a huge amount of resource. The complexity of regulations will make compliance difficult for small and medium sized businesses and the only way forward is for compliance to become an industry in its own right, with businesses specialising in offering different compliance functions or complete compliance packages, centralising the use of technology and expertise and subsequently offering economies of scale. Maybe this industry will be the next phase of the Island’s economic development.