07 Apr The platform of economic growth
Manon Thamothiram, Managing Director, JTC Group Mauritius, the person on the ground for this world-famous financial services company, explains how well-positioned Mauritius is for future growth.
Since receiving its license to operate in Mauritius by the Financial Services Commission in 2015, JTC Mauritius has provided its clients with professional domiciliation, accounting and reporting services. If we look back on the last 7 years, particularly with the economic fallout of the pandemic and the EU designation as a ‘high-risk country,’ how has JTC steered the interests of its clients and emerged from these challenges?
JTC is more focused on client-driven business rather than just making money. We have not actually been too affected by the pandemic financially. There are a couple of clients who have unfortunately suffered, but we have tried to see what we can do to support them as best we can, because all of our clients are an important part of our business.
Looking ahead to the post-pandemic recovery and the removal from the EU banned list, what are your main priority areas as MD in the medium-term?
Our priority is to keep our existing clients and increase our client base, explore other markets, and also support the group. JTC Mauritius is not only a revenue-driven center, but it is also a shared service center for the group. Our team in Mauritius has become a center of excellence for services like bookkeeping, accounting, administrative services, AML/CFT compliance and support on legislative matters. This is how we are geared up for the future. Additionally, we are looking to explore new products and services and are significantly increasing our number of employees in the Mauritius office. JTC recently won a very large mandate for a top global bank, and all the accounting work for this client will be done from Mauritius. This demonstrates the importance of Mauritius to the wider group and also presents opportunities for our existing team and wider community to work with such a prestigious client.
One of the consequences of COVID-19 has been that business and financial services becoming increasingly global, digital and virtually integrated beyond borders. What territories are you exploring and what new products can you offer your clients?
Up until now we had a strong presence in East Africa, which was our main market. Gradually, we are expanding into Nigeria, Ghana and Ethiopia. In terms of new products, JTC Mauritius was more on the privatized services side. We are now expanding into funds and corporate services.
While digital integration presents an opportunity, what do you see as JTC and Mauritius’ competitive advantage to attract and retain international clients?
With the development of the fintech, virtual asset and initial token offering services, our advantage is that we get support from the group to explore new services to better serve our clients and how these can be added to our existing solutions. With our global network of offices (30 offices worldwide), we are highly experienced in working with clients who are based all over the world, including those with complex cross-border needs.
Could you share with us some insight into your portfolio, what some of the major projects have been that you’ve been involved with, and how your clients have benefitted from this jurisdiction and expertise?
As we were formerly more focused on the privatized side, we offered solutions that mainly involved trusts and foundations. Gradually we are moving into funds, compliance, FATCA/CRS services, as well as fund administration services. We have a huge amount of expertise in these areas around the JTC Group, which benefits our clients.
As our report is aptly titled “Live and Work in Mauritius,” we have to consider the fact that Mauritius ranks 13th on the Ease of Doing Business Index, and is considered one of Africa’s safest, most stable, and business-friendly destinations. In the shift to the ‘work from anywhere’ reality, why do you think businesspeople and their families should see Mauritius as an attractive destination to obtain residency or work for extended periods?
Mauritius is, first of all, a safe place. We are doing well, so anyone who would like to come and live here can easily do so, facing no language barrier whatsoever. By nature, Mauritians are friendly, welcoming, fantastic at accommodating foreigners, and always looking to help anyone looking for assistance. The environment is geared to providing excellent medical services, educational and recreational centers. We do not only have beaches and hotels. There are also top-notch golf facilities and many more activities available. The infrastructure is quality even in terms of shopping malls.
As a business involved in attracting foreign capital to the country, how does the attraction of these foreign players positively impact local businesses and the livelihoods of Mauritians?
They are bringing their expertise and contributing to the economy by creating jobs and bringing excellent value to add. There is more to gain by having these people in Mauritius rather than avoiding them.
A drastic shift in the global investment community sees a strong consideration for environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues, and, with $36 trillion already invested in ESG funds, this momentum will continue. How does JTC incorporate ESG principles into its business streams?
As a group, JTC is extremely focused on ESG and supports any initiatives regarding corporate and social responsibility. Every year the group allocates a budget to support local charitable organizations, whether that be in education, rehabilitation, or what have you. This is funding brought in at the group level to support these organizations. We have developed a range of services to help our clients with their ESG goals also. These range from helping them to develop a strategy to advising them on how to become carbon neutral or providing training.
As Mauritius looks to build on the strong policy foundations that had been laid pre-COVID, we are expecting GDP growth of two percent in 2022, with the services sector already contributing seven percent of GDP. What is your growth expectation for the financial services sector in Mauritius? As countries look to attract FDI, what role do you see leading players like yourself play in strengthening Mauritius’ brand appeal on the international stage?
I cannot comment on behalf of the financial services sector as a whole, but I can say that the plan for JTC Mauritius is to almost double the size of its workforce from 55 to 100 by the end of the year. That in and of itself is going to create new employment opportunities. JTC has confidence in local talent, and there will be an additional 45 professionals hired by the end of the year. We will be expanding our office space and all the value adds which are related to job creation. Every year, our revenue has increased by between 8 to 10 percent. That gives you an indication of our expectations for the future.
What is your final message for the readers of Newsweek?
One of the core values of JTC is shared ownership. That means that every employee of JTC is an owner at the group level. This is important for someone who is working to realize that they are both an employee and an employer. There is a distribution made to each and every employee at the end of the period. For example, last year there was a distribution made which included an accumulation of over $26 million to JTC’s global team from the previous three years. Everyone gets a certain amount of shares as JTC is listed on the London Stock Exchange. This is money coming from outside into the Mauritian economy.
Another value has to do with the well-being of the staff. From time to time we have online yoga and mental support training if required. The other benefit is around learning and development. At the group level, there is a dedicated team that ensures that there is constant learning and development for every team on top of the compulsory training, which enables each individual to achieve their full potential.