Guernsey's funds sector is well-placed ahead of the activation of the Island's 'third country' passport, a London funds audience has heard.
Approximately 300 delegates were in attendance at the Guernsey Finance-hosted masterclass on Wednesday 3 February to hear a panel of leading funds experts debate the current market landscape as it relates to the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIMFD) and National Private Placement (NPP) regimes.
Held at the British Museum, the event titled 'NPP or third-country passport?', considered the European Securities and Markets Authority's (ESMA) recommendation that Guernsey should be given access to the AIFMD passport scheme and how the industry generally was utilising NPP in relation to AIFMD.
Kate Clouston, Director of International Business Development at Guernsey Finance, said: "It was encouraging to see the event so well attended and that we were able to have such an interactive discussion between panellists and the audience. What came out very clearly from the debate was that Guernsey's national private placement regime is held in high regard by those in the industry and that once we receive our third country passport Guernsey's offering will become even stronger."
The panel session was moderated by Robin Fuller of Guernsey Funds Consultancy and featured panellists Cathy Pitt, Corporate Partner of CMS Cameron McKenna LLP; Rebecca Gordon, General Counsel of Liberum Capital; Storm Boswick, Managing Director of Brightwood Capital; Peter Gibbs, Chief Operating Office of Permira Debt Managers and Emma Bailey, Director of the Investment Supervision and Policy Division at the Guernsey Financial Services Commission (GFSC).
Since recommending Guernsey for a third country passport in July ESMA has been asked by the European Commission to complete, by 30 June this year, the passport assessments for the second wave of nations - Japan, Isle of Man, Cayman Islands, Bermuda and Australia - as well as the three outstanding countries from the first wave - US, Singapore and Hong Kong. As a result, Guernsey is waiting for the activation of the relevant provision in the Directive to extend the passport.
In addition, ESMA is planning to produce another opinion on the functioning of the third country passport and the current system of NPP after suggesting that the delay in implementing AIFMD, together with the delay in the transposition of the Directive in some member states, had made it difficult to provide a definitive assessment by July 2015, the initial legislative deadline.
"We appreciate that activation of Guernsey's passport may not now happen until later in the year, but the event provided a great insight into the various ways managers and advisers have been utilising the options currently available to them," said Miss Clouston.
"It was also positive to hear such strong endorsement of the Guernsey Financial Services Commission as a flexible and efficient regulator. Similarly, Storm's [Boswick]declaration that Guernsey emerged as the fund domicile of choice following an extensive due diligence process was equally pleasing as it reinforced the fact that Guernsey as a jurisdiction provides a high level of comfort to investors."
Ian Fox, Partner at Norton Rose Fulbright, was one of those in the audienceto echo Guernsey's good pedigree in the funds arena.
"I thought it was a useful session. It reinforced what I already think about Guernsey. I do a lot of listed funds and it's our jurisdiction of choice and nothing has changed that. We will continue to recommend Guernsey as a good jurisdiction in which to do business," he said.
Tim Lyle, Group CEO at City & Merchant, and Giles Vardey, Senior Adviser at Smith Square Partners, both found the discussion informative.
"What most surprised me was that the passporting regime and the AIFMD regime were not quite connected together. The opportunity to bridge both ends certainly came through today and I hadn't appreciated how the passporting regime will make life easier for us," said Mr Lyle.
Mr Vardey said: "It's important you do events like this. Things are happening and thoughts must be expressed. It's good that people turn up and interact."
The masterclass was hosted by Guernsey Finance in conjunction with the Guernsey Investment Fund Association (GIFA). Sponsors were Carey Group, Mourant Ozannes, Ogier and Providence. The event was supported by HFM Week and "unquote.
For more information about Guernsey's finance industry please visit www.guernseyfinance.com.
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