This article was first published in the Financial Times.
The 2023 Salary & Recruiting Trends report by recruitment specialist Hays found that a third of workers consider work-life balance the most crucial consideration when looking for a job.
Given those statistics, it’s no wonder that lifestyle factors are rising up the agenda for companies looking to set up shop in a new location.
Brenda Ainsworth, who has recently relocated from South Africa to Guernsey to set up CI Global Fund Managers, explains the motivations behind her company’s choice of jurisdiction: ‘We looked at various locations and to us, the quality of life was just as important as the regulatory environment.
‘We visited and fell in love. Having grown up in a small town, Guernsey feels like home in many respects. You bump into people you know on the high street, but it’s big enough to escape. There is so much packed into one little piece of the planet. My husband and I said: “If you are sending us to Guernsey, we’ll pack our bags”, and a couple of months later, we did just that.’
‘We wanted a jurisdiction that has a mature regulatory environment, substance and a regulator that engages. Here we can email the regulator – something not always possible in other jurisdictions. But importantly, Guernsey has the quality of life for us and our employees with younger families.’
The island ticks many boxes for people like Brenda, offering a unique combination of advantages that make it an exceptional location for a financial services business while ensuring employees can enjoy lifestyle benefits and achieve a good work-life balance.
The island, situated between the UK and France, has a long-established reputation as a leading International finance centre. Its stable political environment, robust regulatory framework and sophisticated business services infrastructure make it an attractive destination for financial institutions, asset managers and investment firms.
It’s well-connected to major financial hubs like London and other European cities despite being a small island. This accessibility facilitates efficient business operations, global capital flows and international collaboration.
While it is in the same time zone as the UK, Guernsey is independent and has never been an EU member so Brexit has had little to no impact on the way the island does business in Europe.
Those who settle find a breadth and depth of expertise, tried and tested trust and company laws and an accessible and pragmatic financial services regulator. The Guernsey Financial Services Commission has established forward-thinking fund regimes like the Guernsey Green Fund and the Natural Capital Fund that aim to channel capital into nature-positive initiatives. That stance, alongside the island’s annual Sustainable Finance Week and green initiatives across the island’s private wealth, insurance and pension sectors, has made the jurisdiction a genuine leader in the sustainable finance space.
While those factors are all important, the island lifestyle also draws in entrepreneurs and growing businesses.
That sentiment is echoed by Marc Cohen, Sole Partner at unbundled vc, which invests in early-stage digital and tech start-ups, who moved there with his wife and four young children in 2018.
‘Having had a successful business elsewhere, we wanted to move somewhere we had space to think, could build the next business, but where was nice to live. I can work anywhere, but easy access to London is essential.
‘The physical proximity of everything on the island makes living a full life easy, and it’s meant both myself and my wife can pursue our careers without needing a full-time nanny.’
The island also boasts a burgeoning arts scene, good healthcare facilities, three different private schools, low crime rates and a strong sense of community.
Guernsey’s picturesque landscape and pristine beaches, surrounded by the stunning blue waters of the English Channel, provide an idyllic setting for an active lifestyle. It’s normal for business leaders and their employees to enjoy healthy hobbies like cycling, sailing, surfing or sea swimming. Commute times are low, which means the pace of life feels that much more relaxed, even in the thriving and fast-paced financial services sector.
‘When you arrive at work here, you are in the right frame of mind to start your day,’ says Brenda.
Attendees learned of the many benefits of living and working in Guernsey and network with others who have made the move at the Relocate to Guernsey Show, which took place 3 October 2023 in London.

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Guernsey Finance

Guernsey Finance - the promotional agency for the island's finance industry internationally - is a joint industry and Government initiative responsible for the promotion of Guernsey. Under the leadership of Chief Executive Dominic Wheatley, the agency ensures that the core values and competencies of Guernsey's finance sector are accepted and respected by the global community and that financial business development flows are enhanced to the island.