Aiming for a Cayman chapter

Hedge funds are currently the buzz words in the financial services industry with a slew of events taking place in Cayman this year, such as GAIM Cayman hedge fund conference at the beginning of May and the MARHedge International Cayman Conference on Alternative Investments in December, that put the Cayman Islands firmly on the international map when it comes to these highly specialist investment strategies.

AIMA (the Alternative Investment Management Association) is a global, not-for-profit trade association for hedge funds, managed futures and managed currency funds, representing the global alternative investment community, which provides a centre of knowledge for professional investment practitioners.

Although there are currently 13 Cayman financial services companies who are members of AIMA, the association recently sent a representative to test the water here, to see if a full blown chapter could be established, in light of Cayman’s status as the top offshore domicile for hedge funds (with an estimated 70 per cent of hedge funds based in the Cayman Islands).

A cocktail party was held last week at Grand Old House, hosted by law firm Ogier and KPMG, to welcome AIMA and to give Mary Richardson, AIMA Director – Regulatory & Legal, the chance to highlight AIMA’s objectives to the industry.

Richardson is responsible for maintaining and developing relations with regulatory authorities and she also coordinates liaison and industry participation in regulatory consultation and developments.

She is also Cayman’s point-of-contact with AIMA, and, at the cocktail reception, explained how and why AIMA operates, ‘AIMA was established in the UK to increase investor education, transparency and promote due diligence and related best practices and to work closely with regulators and interested parties in order to promote the responsible use of alternative investments.’

She says that the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority has been a driving force behind the push to create a separate Cayman chapter of AIMA, ‘Regulatory bodies such as the FSA (Financial Services Authority) in the UK and IOSCO (The International Organisation of Securities Commissions) value and appreciate a unified voice from the industry to assist them with projects. These organisations gain a great deal from dealing with bodies such as AIMA because it serves as a better way for gaining industry’s input with regard to such issues as regulations, for example.’

Andrew Stepaniuk, Head of Alternative Investments, KPMG says, ‘We understand the formation of a Cayman Islands Chapter would be the first of its kind in the Caribbean and will give this jurisdiction a platform to liaise with regulators, service providers and trade bodies in the alternative investment industry globally. We believe AIMA’s presence will assist in furthering industry education and serve to promote best practices locally. This is indeed a significant and important step in solidifying the Cayman Islands as the offshore jurisdiction of choice.”

Twenty members are required in any one jurisdiction for a chapter of AIMA to be successfully formed and Richardson anticipates that, from interest already shown during her whistle stop tour of Cayman’s financial service providers, this figure will easily be reached.

About AIMA

Established in 1990 and spanning 46 countries on five continents, AIMA’s corporate members enable the Association to create global tools for the benefit of its members, institutional investors and regulators. AIMA provide education, information and research and address the key issues affecting the industry around the world – and are a co-founder of the Chartered Alternative Investment Analyst Association. Visit www.aima.org for more information.

Structure

The structure of the Association allows members the opportunity to shape the industry. The Council, democratically elected every two years, governs strategy. Specialist Committees, renewed each year, comprise members from around the world. These Committees drive development of specific projects relating to sound practices, education and research, educational events and the industry’s methods of communication with investors, regulators and the financial media. Members in 46 countries on five continents work together on national issues – such as regulation. The AIMA team in London co-ordinates activities throughout the world.