60-second interview with Roland Jones 2018

Roland Jones 2018, 23/4/2018

Roland Jones TEP is Managing Director of the Axebridge Group, Barbados.

What does your firm do?

Axebridge is a licensed full service trust and corporate services provider operating from Barbados. We offer full trust and corporate accounting and administration. In a nutshell, we help our clients grow and preserve their wealth.

What has STEP done for you, individually, or as a business?

Thanks to STEP, I have been able to grow as an individual, and Axebridge as a business. To start with education, I recently completed the STEP Professional Postgraduate Diploma in Private Wealth Advising, which I have already found extremely useful, and as a natural next step I’m now doing an MSc. Programmes such as these enhance and motivate our member base.

On the business side, STEP provides strong support on practical issues such as US Foreign Account Tax Compliance Act (FATCA), Common Reporting Standard (CRS) and Base Erosion and Profit Shifting (BEPS), and the team at STEP worldwide are easy to work with, knowledgeable and accessible. In my experience, volunteering for STEP at regional or executive branch level builds personal and business networks, and enhances strategy and leadership skills.

What is the most important thing STEP does, in your opinion?

Education, which protects our members and the public, and continuously develops and enhances member skills. I’d also say member support, particularly relating to public policy and reporting requirements. I believe support to members in the amnesty programmes, particularly in the Caribbean, is important.

Yours is the first firm in the Caribbean to be accredited as a STEP Employer Partner; how do you think that you’ll benefit?

The main benefit is in supporting our learning and development policy, and assisting our employees’ career growth. It will also be very useful to join the expanding network of accredited partners.

What do you most like about your job?

The client relationship, and there’s seldom a dull day. Our diverse client base and the changing needs of our high-net-worth clients keep me uncomfortable enough to carry on learning. We all know the importance, and indeed requirement as a TEP, of continuing professional development in this industry.

.. and what do you feel is most worthwhile?

Succession planning. Our clients are successful, and need a trust, or estate, or investment manager to grow and preserve their wealth. But they also need a roadmap to help the family adapt and develop that wealth, to set legacies and understand the culture that enables the family to continue its success. No-one wants to be a one-hit wonder.

What would you say to a young person thinking of a career in this industry?

It’s not for the shy or faint of heart. We are scrutinised both locally and abroad. It requires commitment to learn and adapt and the rules are constantly changing, but there are rewards. The exposure to families with large resources, international companies, cross-border transactions, and unique needs, makes for a fulfilling and exciting career.

Where do you see future growth, both in terms of sectors and jurisdictions?

I think growth prospects will continue in the LatAm region despite some of the turmoil being experienced, which is important to firms like us, based in the Caribbean. I envisage specialised firms like ours being able to explore and grow in the family advising business, partly because the entrepreneurial spirit relates to smaller boutique firms offering specialised services.

What do you feel are the main challenges facing your organisation at the moment, and how will you deal with them?

Firstly, changing demographics, as millennials and Generation Z have contradicting views on general issues, wealth and transparency. Dealing with this means keeping open-minded, and recognising that business will look very different in the near future.

Secondly, the ‘privacy versus transparency’ argument continues and is resulting in forced and potential changes to the legislation of various international financial centres (‘IFCs’).

Thirdly, unforeseen events, which might include economic and cyber war or terrorist attacks. I always like to say ‘hope for the best but prepare for the worst,’ so have a Plan A, B, and C ready, and preferably right up to Z.

Which social media channels do you use and why?

I favour LinkedIn as it’s useful for business, but I keep active on most of the channels. My current clients are not big users of social media, but that might change in future.

  • The STEP Employer Partnership Programme (EPP) launches in the Caribbean at the STEP Caribbean Conference in Barbados on 7-9 May.

Roland Jones TEP is managing director and CEO of the Axebridge Group, Barbados. He is a chartered accountant and banker and a trust professional and advocate. He is a past chair of the STEP Barbados branch and its Caribbean and LatAm Region. Roland was a 2014 winner of the STEP Founder’s Award and is an elected member of STEP’s Council and an emeritus member of the STEP Caribbean Steering Committee.