Fund experts present at UCCI

The fund industry has grown since the early Nineties into a hugely successful industry in the Cayman Islands. In 1997 there were 1,037 registered mutual funds, whereas as at March of this year there were 7,861 mutual funds that had registered with the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority.

The industry in the Cayman Islands is represented by the CIFAA (Cayman Islands Fund Administrators Association), a body whose corporate members include over 30 Cayman-based, licensed Fund Administrators. Within those companies around 750 people are employed.

According to the Association’s Chairman, John Lewis, the CIFAA members have always worked behind the scenes with government, the CIMA and other professionals to help maintain and enhance Cayman’s position as the premier global jurisdiction for hedge funds. However, recently the Association has become more active within the community, as he explains, ‘We were recently able to award a $10,000 scholarship to a young Caymanian, Leah Gibbs, to allow her to sit her CPA exams in the United States.’

He continues, ‘As an extension of this initiative, the CIFAA began working with the University College of the Cayman Islands, writing a two day course as a general introduction into the industry. The first running of this oversubscribed course was held at the end of May at UCCI and the expectation is that it will be rerun to meet the demand.’

Lewis states that the course was specifically designed at an entry level to introduce employees new or relatively new to the industry so that they develop an understanding of funds from all aspects of the industry, not just that which they may be currently employed in.

He says, ‘The course consists of nine separate sessions that cover a wide range of hedge fund topics and featured many experienced and senior practitioners in the industry all whom were happy to contribute their time and energies for free. In this way we were able to offer the course for free to interested people.’

Lewis gave two presentations at the first session in May and other instructors included Angela Mele from BISYS, Victor Murray and Toni Pinkerton from Maples Finance, Laurice Fraser from Caledonian Fund Services, Trinda Blackmore from Fortis Bank (Cayman), Judiann Richards and Heather Smith from the CIMA and Ken Krys from RSM Cayman islands.

Toni Pinkerton says, ‘We were very pleased with the turn out – a full house. I think this clearly demonstrates that there is a need in the industry for this sort of opportunity to bring everyone together and ensure that knowledge is shared. The course was well received by the students which was clear from the discussions that arose during the sessions and continued through the breaks. We hope to hold the course again later in the year and ultimately, we would like to share the course with the students at UCCI, some of whom may emerge as the next generation of fund administrators in Cayman.’

Angela Mele furthers, ‘The two day course was a great way for us in the industry to inform young Caymanians and local residents about what is on offer within the fund industry as far as job opportunities are concerned. We took an informal poll of students who attended the course and about 60 per cent had between zero and two years work experience in the fund industry, around 10 per cent had between two and five years experience and 30 per cent had over five years experience. So we were really reaching out to those with a certain level of knowledge who had an interest in expanding that knowledge further.’

Mele says the two day course was intensive and packed in a good deal of information as the CIFAA felt it was important to as wide an overview of the industry as possible.

She says, ‘As the fund industry touches on such a wide range of professions there is sometimes a tendency to view the business from just one angle. For example, those in the register and transfer agency business might not be familiar with the corporate side. This course therefore gives attendees a good grasp of all aspects of the business. Our attendees worked mainly in the register and transfer agency field (50 per cent), 40 per cent were in accounting and 10 per cent in compliance, business development and fiduciary services.’

Lewis and Mele say that it is hoped the course might eventually be expanded considerably and included into a separate degree course provided by the UCCI, such is the importance of the subject to the local community.

John Thompson, Chair – Business Studies at UCCI says, ‘We are excited to work with CIFAA toward the development of a new course at UCCI which would give students an introduction to the fund industry in the Cayman Islands. It makes sense to have the industry leaders contribute to such a course, and I’m sure UCCI Business Studies students would be eager to acquire such valuable applied knowledge.’

With that in mind Lewis concludes, ‘We hope that we can continue to work with UCCI to build out the content such that it could be incorporated into one of their formal courses so that young Caymanians deciding on their future career tracks develop an understanding of the industry and are able to make informed choices to enter this thriving global business.’

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