Ambassadors in the making

US students visited Cayman to learn about ‘offshore’

A class of 27 Year 2 and Year 3 law students from Chicago’s DePaul University visited the Cayman Islands as part of their studies last week.

The annual programme, organised for the seventh time by professors Andrew Morriss and Craig Boise, has brought 250 students to Cayman to learn about the financial services provided here, as well as about the islands’ culture and history.

“Over the years we have created 250 ambassadors for the Cayman Islands as well as potential business partners,” said Mr. Morriss, now at the University of Alabama. “This is really the idea, that we equip students with a list of contacts who they can draw upon when their future clients need certain services.

“Some students have even gotten a job because of the course,” he said, explaining that one student found employment because he was able to draw the structural diagram of a captive insurance company during a job interview.

More than just the credits

For the students, the course is about more than just credits. “I guess we could have had this class back in Chicago,” said second-year law student Anuolu Fasoranti. “But actually being here gives Cayman some context.”

“We definitely get a different image by coming here,” fellow law student Anne Fan said. “All of our speakers are from here. They are very well-versed in the industries and I feel that they give us the real perspective. It is not, [as the programme’s speakers called it], the Grisham effect.”

In addition to presenting a more real image of the Cayman Islands, the speakers also help to spread the word, she added.

“It is nice to immerse yourself,” agreed Christopher Fischer, another DePaul student.

“One of our first speakers yesterday talked about how there is this perception outside of Cayman and to be here and get this perception here, and the history is just a great context,” he said.

Delaware ‘surprise’

The students also heard that they don’t have to leave the US to go offshore.

“I think we were all surprised to hear about Delaware.” Mr. Fischer noted. “Every speaker brought up the quote by [US President] Obama about the Cayman Islands and the Maples building. And they always followed it up with, there is a bigger one in Delaware.

“From the US perspective, you get [the impression] of a fast and loose environment,” Mr. Fischer said. “But when you get here, they are all very pro regulation. In many cases they actually think that regulation has strengthened their business.”

All three emphatically agree that offshore finance is something that they would be interested in for their future careers. “Absolutely, I think that is why we are all here,” said Mr. Fasoranti.

“For me it is the cutting edge of finance,” said Mr. Fischer. “That is what you have here. You have got 90 per cent cookie-cutter things, and then you have got these 10 per cent, where somebody every day is thinking of doing something new. “Generally, the birthplace of that is here, or a nexus through here, with the people and the context they have.”

Over the seven years many of Cayman’s firms and organisations have been willing to send presenters to the four-day course.

“We are greatly indebted to our speakers and local firms like Walkers, Stuarts and Maples and Calder, who have been very generous with their time,” Mr. Morriss said in reference to the course’s lineup of local industry experts.

The course programme this year featured the array of locally provided offshore financial services, including hedge funds, fund administration, asset securitisation, captives, banking, and shipping registration, and it detailed certain regulatory issues, such as confidentiality laws and anti-money-laundering provisions.

In addition, students learned about Cayman’s constitution, the court system and the Cayman Islands from the journalist’s point of view.

James Osterberg, aka …

The highlight of this year’s course, however, was the presentation by James Osterberg, better known as Iggy Pop, who spoke to the students about the reasons for individuals to choose the Cayman Islands as a place to live.

The Department of Tourism supported the university course by facilitating a Sunset cruise for the students that ended the week.

Plans are already under way for next year’s programme, which will draw students from the University of Alabama, Mr. Morriss said.

LOCALambassadorsSTORY

BDO’s Paul Arbo speaking to DePaul students during their week-long course at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.
Photo: Michael Klein
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