Responsible Finance Forum

Offshore Financial Centers for Financial Inclusion

Financial Inclusion Equity Council (FIEC) and Center for Financial Inclusion

The words “offshore” and “tax-haven” are often taboo rhetoric within the investment space. In this paper, the Financial Inclusion Equity Council (FIEC), with support from CFI, explores why and how equity impact investors use offshore vehicles. Our findings reveal that offshore vehicles offer key operational, legal, tax and reputational advantages and are a key part of the impact investment landscape.

Through interviews with Financial Inclusion Equity Council (FIEC) members, we sought to better understand the scope of offshore usage in financial inclusion and the factors at play when impact investors select a fund domicile. Convenience, transparency and reputational advantages are among the strongest drivers for choosing to offshore. However, divergent views exist among FIEC members regarding the tax implications of offshore vehicles.

Major Findings

Impact investors have legitimate reasons for using offshore financial centers (OFCs)—and tax status is not the driving factor. The main factors for choosing OFCs include:

  • Administrative Efficiency: OFCs have the legal, financial and administrative infrastructure in place to facilitate investment.
  • Human Capital: Accordingly, OFCs have specialized staff on hand to manage investments, such as lawyers, accountants and auditors.
  • Reputation: OFCs are reputable vehicles in international investing, which helps to validate their use for financial inclusion.
  • Convenience: OFCs may serve as a neutral base for multiple investors. Favorable time zones, shared language and currency also add to their accessibility.

Two divergent perspectives exist between North American and European investors regarding the tax implications of OFCs. The North American perspective prioritizes tax minimization for shareholders/investors, while the European perspective prioritizes paying their fair share of taxes to the offshore country.

Challenge your assumptions about offshore funds and learn more about how these financial instruments contribute to financial inclusion.