Nestor Alfred: How We Attract Record Application Numbers During a Global Pandemic

 

Riding the COVID-19 Pandemic
Saint Lucia has a positive story to tell in the midst of COVID-19. A story that speaks of how a small island state has thus far been successful in its management of COVID-19 with the American Center for Disease Control (CDC) identifying Saint Lucia’s COVID-19 risk rating as the lowest, Level 1, as one of only eight countries globally.  

Saint Lucia reports the lowest COVID-19 infection rate among Caribbean destinations, with only 27 cases, all of whom have fully recovered, with no deaths recorded; a finding confirmed by the CDC. Coronavirus rates average 1.42 cases per 10,000 people, the lowest among Caribbean countries, and a key factor in the government’s decision to re-open Saint Lucia’s borders to tourists. Thanks to the island’s proactive stance and the strengthening of its public education and behavioral change, it is now placed in this favourable position.  

The success of the Government’s strategic policy – very low COVID infections over a sustained period – created the foundation for a different and equally important level of success. The St. Lucian government and its agencies cannot afford to sit back passively. As a small island state, we have to work harder to create and sustain investment demand at the best of times, let alone during a global pandemic. Saint Lucia has been remarkably successful in attracting enhanced levels of international engagement and citizenship by investment during the COVID period. 

The Saint Lucia CIP has seen applications increase in excess of 50% from its total applications received from the start of its financial year April 2020 up until September 2020, as compared to the last fiscal year. Since the start of our fiscal year – April 1st, 2020 – we have already recorded 154 applications received, the best in the five years that we have been in operation.  

However, even before the pandemic struck, we had been on a clear growth trajectory, and it is patently evident from wider industry growth dynamics that international mobility is a desirable asset in standard high-net-worth-individual (HNWI) portfolios and that St. Lucia’s unique proposition of lifelong yield has been recognized by investors from across the globe. 

A new identity, a new narrative
In the midst of COVID-19 and the myriad of challenges that it has presented across the Globe, Saint Lucia CIP has taken the bold move of presenting to the market a new identity and narrative. A new identity displayed by the relaunch of a new website that is much easier to navigate and stands apart from every other website that you may come across within the migration world. A narrative, which undeniably embraces the remarkable beauty of our small Island State but brings to focus the Saint Lucia Citizenship-by-Investment Program’s unique identity of being a world-class, professional international investment program designed both to raise debt-free capital and to attract additional foreign direct investment (FDI). We take great pride in inviting you to view our new website.

The Saint Lucia Citizenship by Investment programme will be entering its fifth year and there was no better time to start the celebration. We also felt the time had come for us to distinguish ourselves and to create our own identity, one that is enshrined within the pillars of good governance, transparency, and rigorous due diligence. Also undergoing this full brand rejuvenation provided the platform for global investors, to see Saint Lucia as being committed to sovereign and corporate governance and diplomatic engagement at the highest levels.

Unwavering focus on accountability
What really sets us apart from other offerings in the region is our uncompromising commitment to the highest standards of good governance along with our dedication to ensuring rigorous due diligence. Our unwavering focus on accountability underpins the St. Lucia Citizenship-by-Investment Program as a strategic investment that offers long-term growth and legacy options that are able to yield ongoing and exponential value for international investors. And it is this message that lies at the heart of our launched new brand and website. 

Citizenship by investment programs should create significant long-term yields for investors, but this can only occur when there is an uncompromising commitment to impeccable standards of compliance and accountability. If this is not the case, there is a substantial risk that investors will see their visa-free travel rights diminished, for example. This is why we have invested heavily in our due diligence and governance processes to negate any risks for our investors and to ensure that St. Lucian citizenship retains its high integrity and value, creating a lasting return on investment for our clients. 

Ensuring lifelong returns for the investor
The St. Lucia Citizenship-by-Investment Program wishes to ensure a lifelong return on investment for our investors. This means that due diligence, governance, and transparency are at the heart of the program. It is this commitment that will guarantee ongoing visa-free access between St. Lucia and many other sovereign states, thereby creating enduring yield for our investors. 

The St. Lucia Citizenship-by-Investment Program remains a key source of funding for our island nation, which is why we are continually and vigorously engaging with key external stakeholders, including governments and supra-national organizations, to ensure that our investors continue to enjoy the international market access and returns that drove their initial investment decision.

Commitment to due diligence does not hamper our investors. We are delighted to note that it appears that our very public commitment to the highest of standards acts as a deterrent. We believe that those who might have unsavory intentions or nefarious motivations look elsewhere. As a result, our rejection rate is less than 1%. Legitimate investors can engage with the St. Lucia Citizenship-by-Investment Program with no qualms. Just as importantly, we have managed to maintain a highly efficient application process, with our average being an impressive 56-day application cycle. 

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Nestor Alfred AuthorSubscriber

Nestor Alfred is the CEO of the St. Lucia Citizenship-by-Investment Unit. His areas of expertise include domestic and offshore financial services, taxation, auditing, regulation, and supervision. He has held senior and executive positions within the banking sectors in Barbados, the Cayman Islands, and St. Lucia. Alfred is a trained IMF-Caribbean Financial Action Task Force mutual evaluator and serves as Commissioner to the CARICOM Competition Commission. Alfred holds an MBA from Henley Management College and Brunel University in the UK.