The Cayman Islands has been top dog when it comes to the formation and administration of hedge funds since hedge funds were invented, having created the perfect vehicle for international investors looking for the safety of offshore, operated by a strong team of professionals on island who oversee the process. Cayman’s reputation as a safe, secure and highly competent place in which to do business has set it apart from all the others, a world-class offshore jurisdiction with all the sophistication and finesse that high net worth clients expect.
Historically, Cayman has enjoyed unique success in this area, but officials realise that this success should never be taken for granted. As a case in point, over the past few years, Singapore and Hong Kong have created some new fund structures that have been wooing Asia-based investors, particularly from places such as China. Singapore has its new variable capital companies which have seen marked success since they first went to market in 2020, while Hong Kong’s open-ended fund companies have also seen keen interest.
These successes have not gone unnoticed by the Cayman Islands.
To have a presence in Singapore and/or Hong Kong would therefore put the Cayman Islands in a far stronger position when it comes to marketing its own tried and tested investment products. Being on the spot means it is far easier to raise Cayman’s profile on the other side of the world, making and reinforcing relationships with those who matter in the industry. The creation of an Asia-based Cayman Islands office has been in the discussion phase for some time, however, in light of the sudden sharp success of Singapore and Hong Kong’s new investment offerings, Cayman officials have been in Asia in May to further relations between themselves and both Singapore and Hong Kong, ramping up Cayman’s profile and reminding industry leaders why Cayman is number one.
The Cayman Islands Minister for Financial Services & Commerce, André Ebanks, led a team which included the Cayman Islands Government’s Asia representative, Gene DaCosta, who travelled to Hong Kong from 14 May to 15 May, and who then joined the Cayman Islands Intellectual Property Office (CIIPO) team in Singapore on 16 May for attendance at the International Trade Mark Association (INTA) meeting. This was an important event that raised the profile of Cayman’s CIIPO, with around 7,000 delegates from all over the world taking part. While in Hong Kong, the officials discussed with the Hong Kong authorities the requirements to operate a physical office in Hong Kong, while attending further networking and relationship-building events. Similar discussions were held in Singapore with authorities in that jurisdiction also.
Minister Ebanks said they found several opportunities in Asia for enhancing Cayman’s financial industry’s market share, as well as gaining insight into various developments in Asia and how Cayman could provide solutions for investors.
Mr DaCosta said he was looking forward to being based in Asia to support Cayman’s financial services firms and their clients, as well as work in partnership with counterpart Asian government officials to maximise opportunities to take their respective countries from strength to strength.
At the moment, Cayman officials have not made any decision as to where the Cayman Islands Government office will be located in Asia, but it is safe to say that the Cayman Islands is proactively ensuring that its reputation as being the best hedge fund jurisdiction in the world does not go unnoticed, especially in light of any attempts to beat it at its own game, and however far away from home that might be.