Why OFCs Need Less ‘Strategic’ Planning and More ‘Tactical’ Planning.


Any mature OFC worth its salt should already have a strategy on how it will provide world-class, competitive but compliant international business and financial services, to fuel its development agenda.

If the vision or mission of the OFC is forgotten or unclear to those whose job it is to implement the strategy it should not automatically trigger a wholesale revision of the OFC’s strategic plan.

Indeed, all that might be required in such a circumstance is a ‘memo’ from the ‘leadership’ restating the key elements of the strategy in clear, precise and authoritative terms; rallying the ‘troops’ towards the common goals of the jurisdiction.

A restatement does not of course obviate the need for ‘refreshing’ a strategic plan from time to time.

Indeed strategic planning is by nature a process that should give rise to a ‘plan’ every 5 or 7 years. That said however a strategic plan by an established OFC should always refer to certain ‘constants’ that need not be ‘rehashed’ and that repetition regarded as an exercise in strategic planning.

For a serious OFC strategic planning should be a three-way conversation involving the public sector, its customers (present and potential) and the interest groups in its society without whom the OFC could not exploit its strengths; address its weaknesses; exploit opportunities; and guard against threats.

This high level ‘big picture’ activity evaluates the past; tries to understand the present; and attempts to predict the future. It focusses on the core of ‘who’ the country is as an OFC; what it wishes to achieve; how it will be done; and in what timeframe.

However,in a protracted and unpredictable recession, characterised by:

  • ‘double-dips’;
  • a likely reconfigured Eurozone;
  • aggressive, multi-dimensional attacks on the business model of OFCs by countries with strong ‘onshore’ and ‘offshore’ features but desperate to plug largely self-inflicted ‘tax’ holes;
  • and against the background of a shift in wealth-generation away from markets long serviced by OFCs,

This is not the time to second guess the future because it is already here.

Instead OFCs convinced of their right to market share and importance to an efficient global financial system need to focus their energies less on ‘strategic’ planning and more on ‘tactical’ planning.

Tactical planning takes the world as it is not what it ought to be or how the OFC would like it to be. It is a reality check, based on the premise that the ‘future’ is something to be implemented now not later.

A tactical plan is necessarily grounded in an existing strategic plan but the plan is micro-oriented and fixed on short term goals with an implementation timeframe of months (1-18) not years. It is geared towards supporting the operational management of the OFC and is about the ‘how’ of getting things done such as:

  • quickly exploiting new market opportunities using existing or complementary products and services;
  • improving customer experience in specific areas;
  • or partnering with like-minded OFCs in brand management.

It assumes more effort spent on identifying ‘who’ will do ‘what’ and ‘when’ to best accomplish the OFC’s mission.

Tactical planning though not as grand an activity as ‘strategic’ planning is nonetheless the essential ‘back office’ work that underpins the successful implementation of an OFC’s strategic plan especially in uncertain times.


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