Jersey funds industry well placed in increasingly complex marketplace
The recent strong performance of Jersey’s funds industry reflects ongoing confidence in the jurisdiction as a major funds centre, but there is no room for complacency in an increasingly competitive, politically charged and complex marketplace, according to the chairman of the Jersey Funds Association (JFA).
Speaking at this year’s annual JFA Dinner (17th April), Ben Robins told an audience of over 450 funds professionals, senior politicians and regulatory representatives that figures for Jersey’s funds industry painted an extremely positive picture of an increasingly diverse funds sector.
Pointing to the total value of funds business growing at the end of 2014 to reach a six-year-high of just under £230 billion, representing an annual increase of 19%, he highlighted stellar growth across the hedge, real estate and private equity asset classes, and steady growth in debt, credit, infrastructure, fin-tech, mining and shipping funds work.
However, he explained that the industry faces a number of challenges, including the growing need to demonstrate fund management substance, global political uncertainty and greater competition from other jurisdictions:
“The statistics don't lie – we’re busy and long may that continue, but there’s no room for complacency given the pace of change and uncertainty swirling around us. In spite of the potential challenges, however, I truly believe we remain well-placed to overcome them and turn them into opportunities.
“First, we need to be mindful of the challenge of demonstrating ever greater substance around fund management activity as the impact of AIFMD and the OECD's Base Erosion and Profit Shifting initiative are felt in full. The abundance of tried and tested local management experience in Jersey, however, gives us the opportunity to take these possible challenges in our stride, so long as we all take the time to understand and adapt to the new operating norms.
“We also find ourselves in a period of real political uncertainty, and the continued international engagement of our politicians, civil servants, regulator and promotional body will become increasingly important to our industry. Finally, the challenge of remaining competitive as other jurisdictions review and upgrade their own fund regulatory regimes remains crucial. Happily, the post-McKinsey review of our funds regime is well underway. We want less complexity but we must also retain our inherent flexibility - that's not easy and will take time to achieve, but it's essential to get it right.”
Meanwhile, as a result of growth in the funds industry, firms are looking to grow their workforce and are providing a growing number of career opportunities for local people, as Ben explained:
“Many firms in the funds industry are actively recruiting or trying very hard to recruit new people. The challenge for our industry is to encourage locally born or connected people to return and seek employment in our varied industry and, if people are unfortunate enough to lose their jobs in other areas of the wider local finance industry, to make them aware of the opportunities in funds, give them access to tailored skills training, and help them convert with real purpose to our area of business.
“We have much to be proud of in terms of how we have helped position Jersey amid global regulatory shifts and growing competition, and the dinner was a fantastic opportunity to celebrate our industry’s successes. Our thanks go to all those involved in organising this year’s event, including all our sponsors.”
The JFA annual dinner was held on Friday 17th April at the Royal Jersey Showground and featured comedian Romesh Ranganathan as guest speaker. Lead sponsor of the event was JP Morgan, silver sponsors included BNP Paribas Securities Services, Moore, Mourant Ozannes and Ogier, and the champagne reception was sponsored by Carey Olsen.