Innovation and digital adoption key drivers for ambitious Jersey funds industry
Accelerated digital adoption, upskilling and product innovation will be key themes for a “confident and ambitious” funds industry in Jersey over the coming years, according to the findings of the third annual survey of Jersey Funds Association (JFA) members.
Presented by JFA Chair and Maples Partner Tim Morgan at a recent virtual event, the findings of the survey, which explored key opportunities and issues for Jersey’s funds industry and the sentiment of practitioners, will be instrumental in informing the JFA’s strategy over the coming years.
Tim was joined at the event by a panel of experts including Mike Byrne, Partner at PwC, Amy Bryant, Deputy CEO at Jersey Finance, Martin Moloney, Director General at the Jersey Financial Services Commission, and Alex di Santo, Group Head of Private Equity at Crestbridge.
Amongst its key findings were that digital transformation will continue to be pivotal to the core operation of funds businesses in Jersey, shaping approaches to regulation, tax and governance over the coming years. Highlighting the impact of Covid-19in particular, 92% of respondents said that the pandemic had changed the way their business uses technology to some degree, with 63% saying it had significantly accelerated digital adoption within their business.
Further, while the vast majority (62%) considered that current skills training was sufficient, around 37% suggested that greater support was needed to support upskilling for a more digitised future.
Meanwhile, on the regulatory front, the survey indicated that Jersey’s response to economic substance rules had been broadly welcomed by the industry, with 42% of respondents claiming that substance rules had had a positive impact on Jersey’s competitiveness, while 70% suggested that Jersey is striking the right balance between ease of doing business and regulation.
It also highlighted that Brexit is still seen as, on balance, a neutral or positive factor for Jersey’s funds industry, with almost a third (31%) of respondents anticipating an increase in business as a result of Brexit.
The survey also painted a picture of an industry that is looking to grow and diversify, with 69% of respondents saying they were confident that their business would grow over the next five years, driven largely by organic growth (69%).
In terms of strategic priorities, both in the short and medium terms, the focus remains on private equity, real estate, venture capital and debt funds, whilst geographically, Jersey’s funds industry is increasingly global in nature, with the US West and East coasts and Middle East markets seen as increasingly important, complementing the existing strong focus on the UK.
Commenting on the findings, Tim said: “Despite the challenges of the last year, Jersey’s funds industry has continued to see hugely impressive growth, with the latest figures for funds business registered in Jersey rising to a new record level of some £378 billion in 2020. The ecosystem Jersey provides for alternatives – its stable platform, quality regulatory framework, expertise and service quality – is clearly resonating with investors, and the outlook for the coming years remains very positive.
“Nevertheless, what this survey shows is that Jersey’s funds industry is both confident and ambitious, and continues to look to push boundaries, innovate and improve. The focus on digital adoption and upskilling comes across clearly this year, with the industry keen to position itself as an authority in the alternatives space, while there are also real ambitions to diversify and grow, including in the ESG space.
“These findings will be vital in informing how we continue to enhance our funds ecosystem, and I’d like to thank our membership for their time and support in putting their views forward.”