Last month marked the tenth anniversary since the Jersey Foundation structure was launched.
It’s worth reflecting on, because the ongoing success of the Jersey Foundation is a story not just about a structure that has gone down well with private client advisers, but, perhaps more importantly and fundamentally from a jurisdictional point of view, it is also about just how important it is to strike the right balance more widely between stability and consistency on the one hand and innovation and progress on the other.
There’s no doubt that the Jersey Foundation has been a clear success, receiving a strong take-up over the past decade as an asset holding vehicle for people and corporate bodies.
Launched in July 2009 following extensive consultation and collaboration between industry, government and regulator, there have been, at the time of its 10th birthday, a total of 382 Foundations registered in Jersey.
Back in 2009, there were a few other jurisdictions that offered foundation-like structures, but nothing that was really geared up to supporting the global private wealth management industry in a way that Jersey could – with its strong regulatory and legislative framework, court system and case law, and decades of global experience.
Being the first of the Crown Dependencies to launch a foundation vehicle, Jersey was ahead of the game, asserting its forward-thinking approach to give internationally-focused families optionality when it came to wealth structuring and succession planning. Whilst other jurisdictions have since introduced foundation vehicles too, Jersey has seen a steady stream of registrations – and more Jersey Foundations have been set up over the past ten years than in the other Crown Dependencies combined.
Set up mainly by families for succession planning purposes and to hold wealth for future generations, increasingly, Jersey firms are reporting that around a third of all Jersey Foundations are being used for philanthropic purposes.
The very nature of a Foundation lends itself very well to succession planning – whether that might be, for instance, holding an art collection as a legacy for future generations of a family, or for getting the next generation of family involved and educated about wealth planning and understanding a family business.
Jersey has successfully mixed the common law aspects of trust law with the civil law history of foundations to come up with a structure that can ultimately apply to investors in so many jurisdictions around the world – that’s important for a jurisdiction that now wins more than 50% of its business from markets beyond Europe.
It’s also a very flexible, adaptable structure – it can be adapted, for instance, to allow beneficiaries to have certain rights, or indeed so that the beneficiaries have no specific rights, unlike a trust. Families also choose the Jersey Foundation because they have high regard for the laws and the regulation, for the courts and the case law. Good solid regulation, reputation and high standards are what families want.
Which brings me to the crux of why the success of the Jersey Foundation over the past ten years is really so significant – because it represents the importance of appropriate innovation in the international financial services space.
Investors like to have choices and a progressive approach in their jurisdictional partners – but they also like to know that the jurisdiction they choose to work with is reliable, stable and good at maintaining a solid track record.
Jersey’s trust law is a case in point. Introduced in 1984, the Jersey Trust Law has seen only seven series of amendments over the past 35 years – amendments that have received real scrutiny to ensure the law remains watertight whilst remaining relevant and appropriate for the times.
The Jersey Foundation also balances the need for a jurisdiction to be both innovative and stable. Consistently, research Jersey Finance undertakes points to the need for IFCs, more than anything, to be a trusted partner for families and their advisers – to give them the confidence in their ability to navigate an increasingly complex world; to enable them to invest securely; to keep their assets secure and safe; and give them the ability to react quickly and efficiently in a world that is both complex and volatile.
There is no doubt we’ll see further innovation in the private wealth landscape in the coming the years – as digital technologies become embedded in infrastructure, and as impact investing and philanthropy become increasingly mainstream considerations – in fact, this is an area, given their suitability for philanthropic activities, where Jersey Foundations could play a particularly positive role.
But as a jurisdiction, our primary focus will remain on providing stability to support investors and families with their future ambitions in changeable times. The Foundation is an exemplar of that approach.