Wayne Iton — from stock market to art market

BY DENNISE WILLIAMS
Observer writer

Sunday, July 29, 2018

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Wayne Iton — formerly the head of the Jamaica Stock Exchange from 1987 to 2004 then chief executive officer of the Trinidad & Tobago Stock Exchange and CEO of the Trinidad & Tobago Securities and Exchange Commission — calls himself a Caribbean citizen. And while for the better part of his career that meant being a financial regulator, Iton's interests has transformed to favour the world of Caribbean art.

Iton presently sits on the board of Sygnus Credit Investments Ltd. However, his passion is the abundant world of art.

“I want to be an international art dealer,” Iton explains. “Art is the richest asset class in the world and has a fair amount of snob appeal. Imagine, a piece of art can be worth sum of up to US$100 million. And so art is very important to civilisation and human development. And so my goal is to bring Caribbean art to the world.”

Iton also revealed that he is currently working with a group of artists that he believes has the international appeal that will bring them to the world stage.

That said, Iton is not letting go of his regulatory roots completely.

Of his relationship with the team at Sygnus, Iton explains, “When I got the call to be on the board of Sygnus from Berisford Grey (CEO of Sygnus), I thought it was a great opportunity to work with a fantastic group of professionals who were primarily focused on good corporate governance. And my role is to promote investor relations, where we have consistent and honest communications with investors. So I am very proud of the development and this is what a stock market is about.”

Iton is not the only finance professional that has turned to art collecting. Recently, in the Places & Spaces publication, former investment banker Clinton Brooks shared his new career as art collector. He states that his focus is not only about viewing the beautiful pieces in his home, but to liquidate the art for “tanigible returns”.

According to Denise Robinson, creativity consultant, “There is reconnecting in this age of technology, I think, that art answers. Art allows you to find your voice and self-determination.”

In terms of people who are looking to buy for investment, Robinson says that many people are going after “new kids on the block”. The trend is that people are looking for something new and exciting.

“The older artists are still in demand, however, so much new talent is emerging in Jamaica. And so with any investment there is some risk. So be guided by what appeals to you; do research as to what is trending in the world of art and visit art galleries to determine what catches your eye.”

Also, Robinson reminds art buyers that you have to balance the new emerging artists with the established masters.

“Empires rise and fall, but art will always be there to be a documentation as to what that culture was. So I believe that investing in art is a worthwhile effort.”

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