Last week, we sponsored the Invest Europe CFO Forum in Lisbon and, as you might expect, the subject of Brexit made it onto the agenda.
Contingency plans seemed largely to centre on structuring funds in EU Member States, but what if rather than facing an either-or when it comes to EU vs non-EU (ergo the UK) there was a third option?
Obviously, I’m going to say Jersey at this point but there are clear reasons why Jersey does hold the cards over the binary in or out option so often touted, especially when set against the backdrop of not only Brexit but also the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive.
Which brings me nicely onto the first of several clear advantages Jersey can offer – certainty. This third-country status means that its agreements with both the UK and EU Member States are already fully functional and will remain unchanged throughout the Brexit shroud of uncertainty and beyond.
Contrast that with EU Member jurisdictions. Finance centres, such as Luxembourg, cannot say what their arrangements will be come this time next year in relation to the UK and they certainly cannot currently guarantee access to the wealth of investors in London post-Brexit, unlike Jersey.
Another clear advantage is Jersey’s flexibility. Conversely, structuring through a Member State requires full AIFMD compliance for EU Managers, which comes with significant additional investor costs and constraints, irrespective of where the investor is located. That said, Jersey can offer full AIFMD compliance if desired and is ready for when the AIFMD passport is extended to third countries by the European Commission.
Thirdly, the Jersey funds sector offers simplicity. The Island’s tax-neutral environment for funds means there is no reliance on a complex system of tax rulings and exemptions This contrasts greatly with onshore jurisdictions where funds operate in a taxable environment adding complexity and risk in order to achieve a tax neutral outcome for investors. To be clear, both Jersey and some onshore funds jurisdictions can offer options to avoid investors being taxed twice, but ultimately the onshore model carries higher advisory costs and less operational flexibility to do so.
Finally, With more than 13,000 skilled finance workers from fund administrators to depositaries, lawyers and non-executive directors, Jersey can provide an ocean of experience locally across all asset classes. Its regulator, the Jersey Financial Services Commission (JFSC), is globally recognised and has worked with industry to provide the innovative products, such as the Jersey Private Fund, that can be game changers for industry.
So, when I’m asked why a fund manager might choose Jersey over an EU Member jurisdiction my answer is straightforward. Put plainly its certainty, flexibility, simplicity, substance – a winning combination that is clearly taking Jersey and its funds sector into a positive future.