60-second interview with Tanya Hanna

Tanya Hanna, 7/4/2016

Tanya Hanna TEP is a Partner at Graham Thompson, Nassau, The Bahamas.

What does your firm do?

Graham Thomson is a full service commercial law firm with three main practice group areas: property and resort development (including mortgages and other securitisation); commercial, trust, labour, insolvency and matrimonial and family law litigation; and financial services including banking, company law, and trusts and estate advisory work.

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

STEP’s most important work is in training. It provides an invaluable service in upgrading the technical skills and knowledge of industry practitioners in general, and novices and newcomers to the profession in particular. The emphasis is always on the practical rather than the abstract. STEP helps to complete the professional preparation and development for trust professionals in ways that universities and law schools and other areas of traditional learning are simply unable to.

You were recently given a Founder’s Award. What does this mean to you?

I am absolutely delighted that I was recognised by STEP, a society that I have so much regard for, and one that is so highly respected around the world.

How and why did you get involved with STEP?

I joined STEP Bahamas Branch in 1998 just one year after it was established. I was a relatively junior attorney and wanted to chart my career in the field of trusts and estate planning, so I determined to become a part of an organisation that would provide the necessary professional training and exposure.

What benefits has it brought you?

It has given me the opportunity to develop not only in the area of trusts and estate planning but to learn so much about the financial services sector in general through STEP publications and other media channels. STEP conferences and other events provide wonderful opportunities to network and build valuable professional and personal relationships with people from all over the world.

What do you feel are the main challenges facing your branch or region at the moment, and how are you planning to deal with them?

We face enormous uncertainty as to the industry’s future in the face of the continued pressure of the OECD and its member countries on offshore centres including The Bahamas. In addition to assisting our government in defending our industry against these external pressures we also have to reposition our industry so that it has less of a Eurocentric focus. This explains why there is so much attention being given to the development of new markets in Latin America. I’m also encouraging my branch to continue with information and training seminars and events to promote re-tooling and brainstorming about changes that we can effect in this industry/sector to help it not only survive but to prosper.

What do you most like about your job?

I like the interaction with clients and industry colleagues, and what I learn from it.

.. and what do you feel is most worthwhile?

Helping clients acquire peace of mind through the settlement of complicated family-oriented worries affecting the passing of wealth to the next generation, either through trust structures or wills.

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

I would say they should face the future with both a sense of realism as to the current challenges and at the same time a sense of optimism that through ingenuity, perseverance and consistently excellent application of skills, they can have a bright future in an industry that has served successive generations of Bahamians extremely well.

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

Latin America is one of the bright new spots on the changing map for the financial services industry. Brazil, Mexico, Peru, Colombia and Guatemala are focal points of particular interest. Most of this business is completely tax-neutral and the business tends to grow exponentially and covers a wide and diverse spectrum of products. The opening up of these new markets augurs well for our future as we move away from Europe and North America.

Which social media channels do you use and why?

I use Linked In to keep up with, and expand my professional contacts.

Tanya Hanna TEP is a Partner at Graham Thompson. She is a former Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson of the Board of Directors of STEP Bahamas Branch, and is an active member who provides assistance to the Board in relation to special training events and whenever called upon.