09 Jun Adjusting in the modern era of global citizenship
Micha-Rose Emmett, CEO, CS Global Partners, breaks down the three main pillars for the investment migration industry
The pandemic has reshaped the USD 21.4 billion global investment migration industry. The overall growth trend seen in the last decade continues, but new dynamics have emerged during these last 14 months. Certain industry experts speak of investment migration having matured to become a sophisticated investment choice and a powerful diversification tool. In your opinion, in what ways has the pandemic precipitated these new dynamics and what are some of the most significant elements influencing the decisions of high-net-worth individuals today when it comes to investment migration?
Since the pandemic we have seen a new type of investor emerge from western, developed countries: wealthy individuals who are feeling restricted, due to large governments imposing strong rules against them. The reasons for wanting to invest in a second citizenship have also shifted to more practical ones such as healthcare and stable governance.
I always look at three pillars when it comes to investment migration. Firstly, lifestyle and mobility. Being stuck inside due to the pandemic, feeling immobile and restricted, has left many taking strain. The ability to shift from that closeted environment to a better life – outdoors, surrounded by nature – is invaluable. The positive impact that has on your wellbeing, your productivity, and your and your family’s lives, is immeasurable. The Caribbean island of Dominica prides itself on its natural beauty and its ability to give citizens a renewed lifestyle, particularly to those who have desperately needed it during the pandemic. Their excellent response to COVID-19 resulted in zero fatalities, a low number of cases and an effective and ongoing vaccination process. Dominica is also one of the few countries that instituted a sensible and manageable travel policy – reflecting the forward thinking and civic minded approach of the government. They are now able to confidentially welcome travelers to the island and, provided you have been fully vaccinated, you do not have to undergo a COVID-19 test on arrival. In terms of mobility, with many countries on red lists and travel restrictions in place for a long time to come, a second citizenship can open doors to better access – giving you mobility in a restricted world.
Access to quality healthcare is key and has become a focused concern for many, particularly for the younger investors. Quality medical centers and access to COVID-19 vaccinations is a necessity. The vaccination process has been handled well in the Caribbean with a swift and effective rollout. St Kitts and Nevis, for example, has already vaccinated 44.6 percent of their population.
The second pillar is financial planning. The financial stress and pressure of the pandemic has put many economies in a downward spiral with wealthy individuals having to pay the price to help repair the damage. As such, these individuals are looking for better options to protect their wealth through diversification. We have also seen a rise in the crypto high net-worth investors that will also play a big role in how they plan their lives – certainly an alternative passport will be a necessary accessory.
The final pillar looks at safety and security. In times of crisis, certain countries feel the turmoil more keenly than others. Particularly in America the restlessness and concern for safety due to civil unrest is making citizens feel unsafe. It is important to have the option to leave should you wish to take it. There are quieter and safer communities who have been able, for the most part, to get on with life due to how they have handled the pandemic and cared for their citizens. Dominica, St Kitts and Nevis and many countries, particularly in the Caribbean, have seemingly not had to change their way of life too drastically due to their stringent focus on healthcare and the safety of their citizens.
Currently, one of the most notable shifts in the industry can be seen in the surge of enquiries coming from The Global North, countries like the U.S., Canada, or the U.K. Emerging markets from the Global South continue to dominate the top 5, however the U.S. has shot into 2nd place, growing over 200 percent as compared to the previous year. Is this reconfiguration simply a short-term cause and effect triggered by the pandemic or is it a lasting trend?
The concept of having dual citizenship has been highlighted by the pandemic and in a way, it has been the catalyst in showing investors that it is an easy option and a sound investment into having a Plan B. It is a vital insurance policy for a small outlay. The pandemic has been a leveler for the world as nobody has been left untouched by it in some way or another. People have felt exposed and vulnerable and, while this time may pass, the effects of this tumultuous time will long be felt and has forced people to ensure they have options available to them.
Last year’s U.S. elections and Brexit were also important global events that most certainly have had some effect on investment migration. How do you foresee other global events or global issues – things like climate change or population dynamics – affecting the industry? How is CS Global Partners anticipating these effects and working together with host governments to prepare and account for such changes?
For the Commonwealth Small States and Small Island Developing States (SIDS) it is important to continually monitor environmental issues and to keep climate change a focus. Dominica has worked incredibly hard over the years to become as close to climate-resilient as possible with eco-resorts being built as well as a geo-thermal plant nearing completion – they remain dedicated to preserving the natural beauty of the island. CS Global partners are focused on sustainability and working together with host governments to ensure that we are proactively advising on Sustainable Development Goals. We have to be cognizant that we are all global citizens, and we have a responsibility to preserve the earth and the countries that are a part of it.
In our discussion with Bruno L’ecuyer, we gathered that industry-wide standards are being designed and implement together with industry stakeholders including key players like yourself. However, from the legal aspect, the industry is governed locally by its own set of legislation, even in the EU. As a legal expert in the industry, what do you see as the biggest challenges in adopting a standardized legal framework for all participating countries?
Yes, as an industry we ideally want an industry standard at a sub-agent and agent level. At a country level it becomes difficult as they are entitled to operate differently and follow their own course and direct their sovereign intentions through developing their own regulations. What works for the EU may not work for the Caribbean, so it is difficult to standardize throughout. But within the industry it would be welcomed as an effective means to eliminate inconsistencies.
As a distinguished advocate for gender equality and education, it would be interesting to explore the linkages of these important issues with investment migration. Could you share with us your experience in lobbying and promoting gender equality and how the investment migration industry can further strengthen its role in this?
Gender equality is extremely important to CS Global Partners. We are a diverse company made up predominantly of female employees – all of whom have been the most qualified for the position they have taken on. However, as an industry this is not the case as it is very male dominated. There is an archaic approach to gender equality and while many will argue that they are ticking the box, the real implementation of this is lacking. We need to do more and, as a company, we practice what we preach.
It is something that, as a female CEO in a male dominated industry, I am extremely passionate about promoting. There are not many females in top positions on the board or in the c-suite – the representation is very low – and that should not be the case as there are highly qualified women in this field. We need to uplift strong, skilled women. To this end, I have a personal charity organization called Daffodils for Doris, a female mentor/mentee programme aimed at boosting confidence, capability and helping women achieve ambitious goals.
What would be your final message for the readers of Newsweek?
Citizenship by investment has always been an option for savvy investors. What we are seeing now is the big influx in interest from individuals who, before the pandemic, thought a Plan B was not essential or who did not fully appreciate the scope of mobility and security it would give them. We are living in a new world and one where we should all consider ourselves global citizens – where we participate as responsible citizens to work together to create a brighter future. Multiple citizenships enable individuals and families to move more freely for business, lifestyle and to provide their families with the best opportunities available. Having my own family, I cannot reiterate the importance of having this freedom. Citizenship and residence by investment programmes can do that and are constantly evolving to meet the needs of investors. The pandemic will also see several nations thinking they can join the CBI bandwagon, however, the older, more established programmes will remain the leaders of the CBI pack as people always revert to trusted options in times of uncertainty.