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Opportunities to diversify alternative funds offering highlighted at Jersey funds conference

Jersey has an opportunity to diversify its alternative funds capabilities and a growing role to play as a European domicile supporting US fund managers, according to panellists at this year’s Jersey Finance Annual London Fund Conference.

Discussing global opportunities for Jersey, the panel at this year’s conference, which took place on 19 March at 8 Northumberland Avenue and was entitled 'Winning Moves', highlighted that there was real potential for Jersey to build on its strong track record in the real estate and private equity fund asset classes, galvanise its hedge fund offering and diversify further within the alternative asset classes.

Pointing to predictions that alternative assets will grow by more than 9% each year to reach GBP13trn by 2020 (PwC), panellists also identified the hedge fund asset class as an area of growth for Jersey, following a number of managers choosing to establish a presence in Jersey in recent years, and the latest figures showing that the value of hedge fund business in Jersey grew 46% year-on-year at the end of 2014. Last year, Jersey also introduced a change to legislation to make Jersey more attractive for hedge fund managed account structures

A specific role was also specified by panellists for Jersey as a European funds jurisdiction that is outside the scope of European regulation and that, through its private placement regime, can enable US managers to access global and European capital without the onerous requirements of an AIFMD passport.

The conference was moderated by former Newsnight anchor Jeremy Paxman, who also gave a talk in which he offered his thoughts on the forthcoming election, emphasising the unpredictability of the outcome and suggesting that British politics needs a ’root and branch review’ to address disillusionment amongst the electorate. 

With keynote speakers including Dr Gerard Lyons (Chief Economic Advisor to Boris Johnson), Bill O'Neill (Head of Investment Office UK, UBS Wealth Management) and Simon Witney (Partner, International Funds, King & Wood Mallesons), the conference was attended by more than 300 London, UK and European funds professionals. 

Panellists included Joe Moynihan (Director of Financial Services, States of Jersey Government), John Harris (Director General, Jersey Finance Services Commission), Ben Robins (Partner, Mourant Ozannes), Lisa Cawley (Partner, Kirkland & Ellis International LLP), Robert Milner (Partner, Carey Olsen), Mike Newton (Managing Director, Private Equity and Real Estate at State Street), Bridget Barker (Partner, Head of the Investment Management Group, Macfarlanes LLP), and Neil Robson (Partner, Katten Muchin Rosenman LLP).

Geoff Cook, CEO, Jersey Finance, who introduced the event, says: “A key message to come across at this year’s conference was that, whilst there are clearly ongoing challenges for funds domiciles, Jersey is well placed to rise to those challenges and not only retain its appeal for international fund structuring, but to grow into new and emerging areas and in new alternative asset classes such as infrastructure investment. There is genuine confidence in Jersey’s platform and in its ability to manage the high standards required globally.

"The global growth in alternative funds offers Jersey some real opportunities, with investors becoming more international in their decision making and alternatives no longer sitting in the periphery of investment decisions but now sitting at the core of investment portfolios. Europe remains key for Jersey and, eight months since its introduction, AIFMD has not turned out at all to be a barrier to entry for Jersey, whilst we are also seeing more interest from managers in overseas markets, including in the US, and this is an area where we will be focusing greater efforts in the months ahead.” 

The latest figures for Jersey’s finance industry, collated by the Jersey Financial Services Commission for the period ending December 2014, show that the net asset value of funds under administration in Jersey grew over the final quarter of last year to stand at GBP228.9bn, an annual increase of 19%. The value of Jersey’s hedge fund business grew by 46%, real estate grew by 32% to its highest ever level, and private equity maintained a steady increase of 5%.

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