STEP forum helps promote Cayman in United Kingdom

Cayman’s expertise as a leading international jurisdiction in the field of trusts and private wealth structuring, charity and philanthropy, as well as wider business and commerce was highlighted at a forum in London hosted by the Society of Trusts and Estate Practitioners, Cayman Islands. 

The motivation for the forum, chaired by well-known BBC radio presenter John Humphrys, was to promote Cayman’s trust industry by showcasing its expertise in the field of wealth structuring and trusts for High Net Worth and Ultra High Net Worth individuals and their advisors, said STEP Cayman Chairman Carlos de Serpa Pimentel. 

“We also wanted to dispel some of the myths that are often peddled about Cayman by allowing negative as well as positive views to be aired in the forum.” 

To this end the forum ‘Cayman Uncovered: Live and Uncut’ hosted a series of discussions aimed at understanding and exploring the myths and truths behind doing business in the Cayman Islands. 

Each panel was presented by internationally renowned experts and professionals from leading onshore financial services firms.  

These speakers presented different aspects of Cayman’s financial services industry, spoke to their experience of Cayman and explained why they favour Cayman above other international financial centres, said Pimentel. “The speakers were able to present from an objective standpoint which gave extra credibility to Cayman as a jurisdiction.” 

Taking place at The Royal Horseguards in London on Wednesday 28 September 2011, the forum was attended by leading private client and trusts practitioners along with influential Cayman Island representatives.

Among the guests that attended the invitation-only event were Graham Brady MP, All Party Parliamentary Group for the Cayman Islands; Charles Parchment, deputy representative, Cayman Islands Government in the United Kingdom; Bruce Dinwiddy CMG, former governor of the Cayman Islands and John Owen, chairman, Friends of Cayman and former governor of the Cayman Islands.  

Providing their perspectives on the development of Cayman Islands as a trusts and private wealth jurisdiction were guest speakers Timothy Ridley, former chairman of the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority, Christopher McCall QC of Maitland Chambers; Farrer & Co Partner Mark Bridges, Frances Jennings, partner at Rawlinson & Hunter Ltd, and Richard Hay, international tax principal and head of Stikeman Elliott’s International Private Banking and Financial Regulation Group in London.  

Timothy Ridley started the day by highlighting the challenges facing the Islands. He remarked that Cayman is facing continued pressure from the world’s major economies but that actions have been taken to combat these challenges.

He pointed out that Cayman has a regulatory framework that is fully compliant with international financial, banking and prudential standards for exchange of information and maintains a dedicated anti-corruption commission to fight corruption and bribery. Cayman recently signed its 26th Tax Information Exchange Agreement with China.  

In addition Cayman remains at the forefront of developments in offshore trust legislation, in response to the needs of the international community. The innovative structures offered underpin Caymans efforts to maintain its position as a leading jurisdiction for the establishment of trusts.  

In his remarks to the delegates at the forum, Richard Hay noted: “Cayman regulation is near to the top of the global game. The island boasts a well developed legal and regulatory framework and a robust compliance culture.” He added that “IFCs are crucial to sustained economic growth.” 

Following the speaker sessions, John Humphrys chaired a question and answer session that saw questions from the audience being put to a panel of four commentators, which included Clare Maurice, senior partner at Maurice Turnor Gardner, Tom Burroughes, the group editor of WealthBriefing.com, George Hodgson, head of policy, STEP Worldwide and Timothy Ridley.  

Among the general themes coming out of the debate were that privacy with regard to trusts and private wealth management is essential and a fundamental human right. It was also felt that the offshore world needs consistent articulation of its contribution to global prosperity.  

“We were very pleased with the outcome because our event attracted a significant number of the most influential and senior lawyers and accountants in London as well as delegates from media and politics,” commented Pimentel.

“One of the main motivations for the event was to reach opinion formers from the world of politics and media to change their perceptions about the Cayman Islands and the professional services provided here by the high quality professionals who practise in Cayman.” 

In addition, the negative views and perceptions of Cayman and other IFCs, that are often bandied about by the onshore press without researching the real facts, do not tell the true story and the benefits that Cayman provides onshore economies, he said. 

“By holding the seminar in Whitehall in the heart of London’s political establishment and attracting the audience that we did, we were able to send the message that Cayman is a cut above the other offshore jurisdictions, is well respected by leading onshore players and a positive and necessary contributor to onshore economies in part through the services offered in the field of trusts and wealth structuring for high net worth individuals and through charitable and philanthropic solutions,” Pimentel added. 

Funding for the event was obtained from Cayman trust companies, law firms and accountancy firms. 

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From left: Tim Ridley, Christopher McCall QC, Mark Bridges, Frances Jennings and John Humphries. Photo: Submitted

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