The Isle of Man is gearing up to ‘go to market’ in the autumn with its radical new funds initiative aimed at positioning the Island as a major force in the global fund management industry.

Proposals being considered include the launch of a US$100,000 new specialist fund designed to encourage major fund managers in London and other key financial centres to relocate their front and middle office functions to the Isle of Man.

There was an opportunity to brief industry leaders about the Island’s plans at Eurohedge Paris exhibition in April which was sponsored by Isle of Man Finance and to which I led an Isle of Man public/private sector delegation to the summit held at the city’s historic Palais de la Bourse. Now firmly established as a key date in the industry’s global calendar, the summit brings together top hedge fund managers, investors and service providers to discuss the big issues currently facing the sector. It is therefore a recognised stage for displaying the latest opportunities and risks in specific investment strategy areas.

Keen international audience

The Isle of Man fund industry had fabulous exposure to an international audience via the Island’s exhibition stand and the calibre of business leads generated by our team was excellent. As always, this event provided us with a branding opportunity that continues to keep the Isle of Man in the hearts and minds of our target audience of international fund managers and lawyers. We are confident this will evolve into significant new business for the Island.

The latest fund initiative, announced by Treasury Minister Allan Bell in his spring Budget speech, caused a flurry of excitement in the business media and has resulted in a steady stream of enquiries from leading City managers.

During the brief introductory period regulatory changes at the core of the recommendations will be established, and things are moving apace. An Implementation Committee has been formed to drive forward the proposals and we have set a target for a major marketing push at the end of the summer. By this time most of the key recommendations in relation to the new specialist scheme, the transition arrangements for the IAS and the new licensing categories for hedge funds should be in place.

We were very fortunate to secure the services of Paul Smith, formerly Global Head of HSBC’s Alternative Fund Services Division, one of the top three global providers of fund administration services, to work closely on the plans with Isle of Man Finance and the local fund industry. He believes the industry here has ‘both the capacity and the expertise’ to establish itself as the premier location for the domicile of specialist institutional funds and the preferred location for front and middle office functions serving fund managers currently based in London and other major financial capitals.

The global industry is expanding at a rapid rate and I am confident the proposed enhancements will secure the continued growth and development of the Isle of Man fund industry and enable it to meet its goal of achieving $50 billion of funds under management and $100 billion under administration by 2010.

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