Interview with Vistra Seychelles MD, Neil Puresh | 18 December 2019
‘We are proud to be one of the largest corporate service providers in the Seychelles’
Vistra Seychelles, an offshore corporate services provider, has been offering its services in the Seychelles for a total of 15 years. Vistra is a global firm, with headquarters based in Hong Kong, which is present in 45 jurisdictions including Seychelles. Ranked in the top three corporate service providers globally, Vistra prides itself on delivering top-notch, quality services to its clients.
Its Seychelles’ office is based on Eden Island at the Plaza. As Vistra marks its 15th anniversary in Seychelles, the managing director of Vistra Seychelles, Neil Puresh, provided an aperçu on the significance of this milestone.
Seychelles NATION: What does Vistra Seychelles do exactly? Vistra has been present in Seychelles for around 15 years; what have been its major achievements and challenges?
Neil Puresh: Vistra began as a small operation in Hong Kong specialising primarily in company formation, and has gone through a rapid growth journey, both organically and through mergers and acquisitions around the globe, to become a global market leader in trust, corporate services, and fund administration. Currently we have over 4,500 employees in 45 jurisdictions across Asia-Pacific, the Americas, Middle East and Europe.
Vistra’s presence in Seychelles dates back to 2004 when the organisation first entered the market as OIL, later rebranded to Vistra, and has been a fully-fledged operation since November 2017. We have doubled our work force since then, the majority of whom are Seychellois.
With full company management, foundation and trust licences, Vistra Seychelles’ specialist team provides a full range of services including set-up and administration of various types of structures (predominantly International Business Companies) as well as directorship, nominee shareholders, Councillor and Trustee services.
We are proud to be one of the largest corporate service providers in the Seychelles, with a market share in excess of 25%.
The ever-evolving and increasing regulations in the pursuit of greater transparency have posed challenges to companies operating or investing around the world, however, it also creates opportunities for corporate services providers like Vistra to help clients understand and stay compliant with tax, compliance or other regulatory requirements.
Seychelles is a small nation with a population of 90,000. The limited pool of available qualified and experienced staff locally is another hurdle faced by many industries. At Vistra, we are very fortunate to be able to attract high calibre talents through providing them robust training and development opportunities as well as international exposure by tapping into our global network.
Seychelles NATION: What were the initial business objectives of Vistra Seychelles when it started out, and are these still relevant in the present economy?
Neil Puresh: Vistra’s business objectives have continuously evolved over time but its ambitious vision of becoming one of the global industry leaders have never changed. In fact, we have now successfully become one of the top three global corporate service providers and a service provider of choice in Seychelles.
However, what was relevant 15 years ago would have undergone a paradigm shift on multiple aspects, without however, affecting our predominant product (i.e. the International Business Companies), which still remains a key focus to Vistra in Seychelles.
Seychelles NATION: How has Vistra adapted and evolved as a result of the changing global and local economy as well as the changing regulations?
Neil Puresh: Changes in the macro environment meant that we have had to evolve and adapt ourselves. We invested in resources and infrastructure to adapt with the ever-changing regulations, among others. We continue to react quickly to changes and create corresponding solutions to our clients, in order to help them stay compliant with the latest regulations, maximising opportunities for their businesses within a regulated framework.
With a fully operating office in Seychelles, this would now automatically lead to expanding our services locally by attracting foreign investors and our international client base to our shores.
Seychelles NATION: What is your future outlook for 2020 and beyond?
Neil Puresh: With even more changes expected in the coming decade, we believe the industry will continue to adapt and strive. We will stay resilient and continue to develop in order to retain and attract loyal clients.
Seychelles NATION: How would you describe your role in the Seychelles’ jurisdiction?
Neil Puresh: Having a presence in major international financial centres and other similar popular jurisdictions such as Seychelles, we are keen participants at various industry-level forums and committees, as we feel that sharing knowledge and expertise can help, not only in improving on current standards/practices, but also in overcoming hurdles faced by industry practitioners and other stakeholders, including the government.
You will recall that we co-hosted a roundtable event with Seychelles International Financial Services Association (SIFSA) earlier in June where we presented key trends and issues highlighted in our “Vistra 2020” annual corporate services industry research.
Vistra is also represented on Seychelles Financial Services Authority’s (FSA) Products and Legislation committee and often engages with SIFSA in various high-level discussions and forums.
Seychelles NATION: Seychelles has been considered as a conduit international financial centre (IFC), what does that mean and should we opt to try to change this to become more of a regional hub for investors like Mauritius?
Neil Puresh: The need for increased transparency and elimination of double non-taxation or low taxation regimes will continue to be enforced by major organisations like the European Union (EU), the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Financial Action Task Force (FATF).
Therefore, the country needs to be able to implement the appropriate framework and necessary infrastructure to enable a broad range of services to be offered to our clients. If we get it right, this in itself has the potential to transform our industry and allow the Seychelles to evolve as other jurisdictions are actively doing, including Mauritius.
Seychelles NATION: How will the stricter AML/CFT regulations and laws, which the government is hoping to implement to receive a better rating with the ESAAMLG, impact on the company and its sector?
Neil Puresh: Like any regulatory change, stricter regulations and laws are bound to have an impact. It’s the level of impact that we have to manage, which remains within our control.
At Vistra, we continue to adhere to the highest international compliance and regulatory standards. With an experienced team that understands both the local and international legislative environments, we are well positioned to ensure we remain compliant while also providing clients with a wide range of external compliance support.
As for the wider industry, such impact can be minimised with:
- sufficient consultation processes between both the public and private sectors;
- through developing the appropriate mechanisms; and
- carefully drafting the relevant legislations.
Compiled by Elsie Pointe