FOR those looking for signs of optimism in what has been a troubling 2020 for many, the week leading up to We Are Guernsey’s Guernsey Funds Forum Webinar was one to forget: surging coronavirus cases prompted fresh lockdowns across the world, there were fatal terror attacks in Vienna, and somewhat more predictably, there was chaos and confusion in the form of the US election.
The latter issue has since dissipated – albeit to a Trump Twitterstorm – as the world recognised Joe Biden as president-elect. There has also been a breakthrough in the fight against coronavirus, as Pfizer and BioNTech announced that their vaccine could be more than 90% effective. Twists such as these have become commonplace in recent months and in a world where the only certainty is uncertainty, core values are a welcome constant for fund managers and their investors.
It was fitting, then, that the panel on day two of the Guernsey Funds Forum Webinar praised Guernsey’s strong set of guiding principles. It’s a jurisdiction underpinned by a strong legal system, a robust regulatory framework and a body of experience and expertise accumulated across many professional sectors and numerous decades.
These core values of integrity and experience are the reasons why the jurisdiction is so well regarded by global investment managers, investors, and regulatory bodies such as the OECD, Moneyval and the Financial Action Task Force. The panel also highlighted the benefits of Guernsey being a jurisdiction of substance which has alignment with both the UK and the EU, but importantly remains independent of both and is therefore largely unaffected by the repercussions of Brexit.
In such volatile times, a suite of globally recognised products and the proven ability to deploy these to market quickly and efficiently is key. Not content with this, the jurisdiction continues to engage with global partners to understand how it can further support the global investment community. This can be evidenced by the introduction of limited partnerships regulations in July, which have made it easier for foreign limited partnerships to be migrated to Guernsey as they no longer have to terminate the existing entity and establish a new one. The move aims to serve an increased demand from investors to domicile funds in locations that are recognised for good governance and have a strong legal framework.
The panel also recognised the dynamism of Guernsey’s financial services industry. This could be seen when the island first entered lockdown and its financial services industry seamlessly swapped the office for the home office. This validated statements made over time about the robustness of the jurisdiction: from the foundations of the local infrastructure to the access granted to government decision makers, from increased communication across the industry to a practical regulator eager to engage in regular dialogue, it showed the forethought, measured professionalism and, most importantly, the trust shared across the sector to continue to deliver the levels of service excellence that the global investment community has enjoyed for decades.
While portfolios were crashing, investment managers were concerning themselves with how an upcoming transaction or fund raising would be supported. Lawyers, accountants, fund administrators and local non-executive directors stood up, and underpinned by years of trust, created the constant that ensured those in a world of chaos had a sanctuary on which to rely.
While a second wave of lockdowns sweeps the globe and the unknown ramifications of Brexit loom, Guernsey remains agile and the foundational bedrock of its core values presents a safe harbour to investment managers and their investors. Those with differing experiences in other jurisdictions are beginning to contemplate Guernsey as an attractive jurisdiction that provides shelter from the next meteor shower of volatility.