At the influential financial services conference Spectrum this year, one of the key panel discussions will focus on the future of fund administration in the Cayman Islands.
Visiting panelist and fund administration expert George’s Archibald, Chief Innovation Officer and Regional Head of North America, Apex Group, talks about where the global market is headed and where the Cayman Islands fits in.
Check out Spectrum 2022 on September 8th as Georges’ joins a number of other experts to discuss key issues affecting Cayman’s financial services sector.
What do you see as the key global drivers of fund administration over the past few years?
Recent years haves seen a maturation of a number of trends in the asset management and private markets driving the growth of fund services. Private market assets continue to evolve and become more accessible with greater transparency and better access to information for investors. In addition, the growing consideration of ESG factors has led managers to seek the experience and insight of independent providers in order to evaluate and improve the ESG credentials of their portfolio.
How does the Cayman Islands fit into Apex Group’s global strategy?
The Cayman Islands remain the world’s leading domicile for offshore funds, a thriving banking center and a hub for digital assets, and as such continues to be a key strategic location for our clients and the Apex Group business. Cayman continues to recognize its important role as a leading global financial services hub and has worked over the years to evolve its legislation and regulation in a balanced, forward-thinking and robust manner. Local legislation is kept in line with international regulatory standards to meet the needs of investors and managers around the world ensuring Cayman remains one of the most sought-after domiciles for funds.
Its mature financial and professional services ecosystem, robust and forward-thinking regulatory framework combined with the logistical and time zone proximity to the US, continue to create a compelling jurisdiction.
As Apex Group has expanded globally to over 85 offices in 42 countries having a large Cayman Islands footprint allows our clients to work with a provider that can leverage its presence and expertise in a leading offshore jurisdiction. Apex Group continues to invest in the Cayman Islands. This level of local experience gives clients the confidence to further evaluate their jurisdictional options.
As a major global player in the fund admin space what does Apex Group see as potential challenges in the investment funds sector over the next 3-5 years?
Volatile equity markets, rising interest rates, geopolitical instability and ongoing disruptions from global pandemic have resulted in allocators turning to credit strategies in order to achieve their targets. In addition, at the start of 2022, the private equity industry was sitting on a significant amount of dry powder that needed to be deployed and we have seen strong leveraged buyout activity, driving demand for our capital markets and escrow solutions.
Private market assets continue to evolve and become more accessible with greater transparency and better access to information for investors. The two key themes that have had a place in most every strategic discussion about what the landscape will look like in the coming years are data and digital. These two inter-related principals are cornerstones to private markets democratization because they allow for more certainty around ascribing value.
We expect existing players to continue allocating larger proportions of AuM to private credit, alongside the diversification of established managers into new strategies. Service providers must be equipped to support increasingly complex and granular private debt portfolios with more sophisticated and demanding service requirements.
There appears to an increasing trend in fund managers outsourcing various functions. What do you feel are the reasons behind this trend?
Downward pressure on costs and fees, as well as a global talent shortage, are continuing to drive outsourcing as managers seek greater time, resource and cost efficiencies. Fund managers are increasingly seeking a “single-source solution”, whereby they can access all the services they require, via one relationship. Forrester Consulting published an independent study earlier this year on the Total Economic Impact of Apex Group – the report found that clients using our single-source solution achieved a return on investment of 105% and cost benefits of $5.39m, with a net present value of $2.75m over a three-year period.
Has the growth of fintech and crypto impacted Apex Group’s global strategy in any way?
Remote work and the demand for operational efficiency have highlighted the benefits and necessity of technology in fund administration. We expect to see the growing digitisation of the fund admin space to play a key part in minimising the traditional manual paper-based processes as managers start to embrace the use of digital technology. That will include things like distributed ledger and blockchain to help capture, consolidate, analyze and share data in an efficient and secure way. At Apex Group, we are looking towards the future and investing in these new tools today.
Managing a digital asset or cryptocurrency fund and/or transactions comes with an entirely new set of challenges for fund managers, intermediaries and investors. Havin the right partner and technology is crucial for overcoming complexities and gaining a competitive edge. By partnering with Apex Group, our clients gain access to our comprehensive single-source platform for servicing digital assets, and benefit from our ever-evolving services, industry leading digital asset technologies and a global team of experts across our dedicated digital asset Centre of Excellence locations such as Cayman.