When any year draws to a close it presents a natural opportunity to reflect on the preceding 12 months.
2023 saw a number of highs for us as a business – but venturing even further back offers a fuller picture of where we are today set against the ambitions of yesterday.
Back in 2019, Suntera Global defined a five year strategy that zeroed in on three areas in particular; increasing our global footprint; diversification and innovation across our service lines; and collaboration between our offices and divisions.
It was a strategy that required investment, not just financially but across the board; we needed to invest in our knowledge, our people, our infrastructure, our time – and we had what seemed like some pretty significant ambitions that we would aim to achieve by the end of 2024.
As we look forward into 2024, the reality is that actually, one year ahead of schedule, we have already exceeded most of our targets. It’s an impressive achievement, made possible only by the joined-up efforts of all of our people, and belief in our mantra of ‘empowering responsible ambition’; a mantra that drives the culture of Suntera and continues to set us apart from our competitors.
One of, if not the biggest, contributor to that achievement has been our people. Back in 2019, for instance, we had a single employee focussed on HR. Today that figure is in the double digits. It has been a significant investment but one that has paid dividends, ensuring we have the professional frameworks to make us an attractive employer for those looking for greater opportunity.
And where we once had 200 staff, today we have over 560 team members working across nine jurisdictions – we’ve brought in some really impressive talent over the past year and continued to recognise the achievements of our people through promotions.
We are not complacent, however, which is why we are continually looking at ways to enhance our workplace environment and empower our people to help them thrive.
On that note, I was really pleased that the incredible efforts of our People team resulted in our own Global Management Development Programme receiving recognition status this year from the Chartered Management Institute (CMI). That’s an extraordinary achievement and reflects our focus on professional development.
In terms of growth, meanwhile, we have adopted an approach over recent years that has seen us make a number of key acquisitions and expand our reach into new locations.
The latest of these – Carey – saw us increase our presence significantly in the Guernsey market this year as well as our capacity in the core fund, corporate and private wealth service lines. This follows on from our acquisition of Nedgroup Trust in Guernsey and Socium Fund Services in the US in 2022. Acquisitions like this augment our organic growth and support our ongoing aspiration to have a greater profile in more Tier 1 jurisdictions.
Technology, of course, has continued to both drive and support our growth over the past year, and we’ve made significant investment in this regard - transforming and centralising our systems to bring greater efficiencies, and enable flexible working.
Technology has also been at the forefront of our thinking through our office relocation and refurbishment programme in recent years – most recently our Isle of Man colleagues moved into new cutting-edge facilities in Douglas, providing them with a space that meets our growing digital infrastructure needs. We’ll continue to invest in our office space across our network in the years ahead.
More widely, technology will continue to be a huge part of our focus, permeating all aspects of our business. There’s no doubt that AI solutions will increasingly help set us apart as a leading service provider in 2024 – helping us service clients better and creating new opportunity across the business. It’s an exciting prospect and we want to be ahead of the game.
Meanwhile, one of the things I’m proudest of over the past year has been our relentless focus on our role in the communities in which we operate.
The hugely successful Fill a Fish campaign, for instance, has had a noticeable impact on the local community in the Isle of Man with local school children helping to design marine-focussed recycling bins, situated in popular locations around the coastline.
In fact it’s been so successful – it helped remove some 30,000 plastic items from the island’s coastal areas – that it won an environmental award at this year’s Isle of Man Excellence Awards. Our aim is to mirror that success and roll out the initiative in Guernsey in 2024 and to then repeat the project in other Island jurisdictions over time.
In addition, our staff across the IoM, Bahamas and the Channel Islands took part in a Global Clean Up day, between them collecting almost 500kg of rubbish from local beaches; we initiated a tree planting project, planting land and marine ‘trees’ in vulnerable locations around the world; and we supported the high-profile Durrell ‘Tortoise Takeover’ campaign in Jersey.
There’s no doubt - we are a very different organisation now to the one we were in 2019. But we are always looking forward. So what about the next chapter?
We already have clear ambitions for the next three years of our journey. Amongst those aims will be positioning Suntera as a leader in ESG and sustainability; enhancing our business through technology; and cementing our reputation as an employer that the best want to work for. And we will get there in our own distinctive way.
We think we’re heading in an exciting direction. And it will be our people - the beating heart of our operations – who will take us there.
So buckle up for the ride. Here’s to an exciting 2024…!