discussion with Highwater Managing Director Gary Linford.
You have operated under the DMTC branding
for more than three years, why the change?
When I established the DMTC Group in
January 2007 it was with the intent of building a multi-jurisdictional business
providing fiduciary services to investment funds and investment manager
entities domiciled in the major offshore fund domiciles. I decided to partner with regional experts,
Nigel Stead in Singapore and Bill Jones in Luxembourg. While we each owned our
local businesses, we operated as one under the DMTC brand, marketing ourselves jointly as a group of
like minded and experienced individuals committed to agreed standards of
Each office location grew at a different
pace and with a different focus. The Cayman Islands office added two partners,
John Lewis in July 2008 and Winston Connolly in July 2010, as well as eight
non-WP support staff. In Singapore, Nigel specialised in back office support
for Japanese-domiciled Investment Advisors while in Luxembourg, Bill was seeing
increased appointments to UCITS structures.
In Cayman we built our business around a
core service offering of directorships and believe that a high quality
directorship business is best achieved through a “limited capacity” business
with a focus on the highest standards of corporate governance. It recently struck me that this concept of a
“limited capacity” boutique firm conflicted with my original vision of
establishing a DMTC office in all the key offshore fund jurisdictions. Why take
on the headache of managing further offices and dealing with different
jurisdictional laws and regulatory regimes when our limited capacity can easily
be satisfied by Cayman business alone?
Winston and John confirmed my thinking and
we agreed that the case for a common brand was no longer compelling. We will
continue a close working relationship with Bill and Nigel as we sit on numerous
joint boards and will refer business to one another as preferred providers.
Where did the new brand HighWater originate
and how does it define your firm?
The term “high water” is a positive one,
both in hedge fund lingo that describes the high watermark for performance fee
purposes, but more generally it stands for “the peak of something, especially
an achievement”. This is how I feel
about the business we built in the Cayman Islands. I believe we are continually
raising our own personal high watermark when it comes to building a portfolio
of clients to be proud of, retaining a professional, dedicated and happy team
in the office that services our clients and maintaining key contacts at service
providers in our important fund jurisdictions to better serve our clients. The
brand HighWater is simple and just made sense when defining our business and
our key relationships.
Are you not putting all your eggs in one
basket by focusing on Cayman?
We are well-diversified by client,
originating jurisdiction and investment strategy. But we are placing a
significant bet on the continued attraction of the Cayman Islands as a
prominent investment fund domicile and to a lesser degree, that for the
We are betting on the Cayman product not
only surviving this global downturn but retaining its dominance in the hedge
fund sector. In a capacity-constrained
business, we have little fear that we will have much spare time on our hands.
Do you only offer director services?
We do focus on director services to the
alternative investment business and have stayed away from company incorporation
and registered office work.
However, in addition to our core director
services offering, we also accept appointment to funds that find themselves in
distress and that need independent directors to monitor conflicts of interest,
guide the board through difficult investor discussions and provide service
providers and regulators with comfort that appropriate direction will be
We also provide offices of substance for
investment managers that require more than a “brass plate and an offshore
board”. We assist with establishing a presence in the Cayman Islands for those
onshore investment advisors that have sought robust transfer pricing advice
from a respected tax advisor.
Does this mean you no longer travel as
As strong as our connections are with local
service providers, we know that we cannot rely completely on them for
referrals. Rather, we believe that
business is won through personal relationships and face-to-face contact in the
key fund origination jurisdictions of New York, Chicago, London, Singapore,
Hong Kong and Tokyo. It is also our philosophy to meet all clients physically
in their offices on an annual basis and this requires frequent travel. All of
our support staff travel internationally to experience our key jurisdictions as
we feel it is important they can relate to the places where our clients are
doing business. So while I personally do not travel as much, there is still a
lot of travel for everyone in the office. It is simply part of our business.
Tell us more about Winston and John
We are very excited about our recent
addition of Winston Connolly. He is a Caymanian funds attorney with significant
experience gained at both Maples and Walkers and he is well-known and regarded
locally. Winston is Deputy Chairman of the Cayman Islands Business Staffing
Plan Board, Chairman of the Cayman Islands Financial Services Council as well
as the immediate Past President of Rotary Sunrise.
John has lived in Cayman for the last eight
years and was previously the Managing Director of Butterfield Fund Services in
Cayman as well as Regional Head of the Americas before joining me in July 2008.
John is the Chairman of the Cayman Islands Fund Administrators Association
(CIFAA), sits on the Council of the Cayman Islands Society of Professional
Accountants (CISPA) and is also involved with the board of Cayman Finance.
Earlier you mention Simon Cox. Who is he
and why Hong Kong?
Simon has been based in Hong Kong for over
20 years and has been investing in global and Asian hedge funds and other asset
classes since the mid 1990s.
Having Simon in Hong Kong gives us not only
an additional director resource for funds that are sensitive to local time
zone, but also gives us an on the ground presence to maintain relationships and
identify new opportunities. Simon knows
the Asian investment community really well and typically finds out about new launches
way before any service providers are selected.
More importantly, it helps having someone on the ground to secure rugby
sevens tickets each year!