The far-reaching capabilities of Artificial Intelligence (AI), the increasing threat to cyber security and confidentiality, and how political instability is driving business to safe harbours were among the major themes to emerge from Jersey Finance’s London conferences this week.
Attracting record numbers of UK-based practitioners, the two events showcased Jersey’s strengths as an international finance centre, while bringing together to the stage leading figures from the private equity, real estate, private wealth and investment world.
Keynote speaker, Professor Nicholas Bostrom, Director, Future of Humanity Institute, University of Oxford, delivered a particularly thought-provoking presentation on both days exploring the strides taken in less than a decade in machine learning, describing the impact of advances in the near future as certain to be more profound than the Industrial Revolution.
Continuing the IT theme at Jersey Finance’s Annual Private Wealth Conference, entitled ‘An Open World’ (25th April), delegates were also alerted to the growing threat from cyber security by former MI5 Director General, Lord Jonathan Evans of Weardale KCB DL, who in a one-to-one interview with Jersey Finance Deputy CEO, Amy Bryant, pinpointed reasons for successful cyberattacks and procedures firms should follow to prepare, including simulation exercises.
In addition, Jersey Finance was also able to highlight Jersey’s own fintech credentials in a video that showed how AI solutions are already being harnessed by forward-thinking finance and digital businesses in Jersey.
Further panel sessions at that conference moderated by Richard Gray, Co-Head of Institutional Wealth Management, ACPI, and Lisa Springate, Jersey Finance’s Head of Technical, delved into the growth of ‘emotive’ asset classes such as classic cars, wine, residential property and art, and examined the evolving strategies of family offices. Concern was also voiced in the sessions that ultra-high-net-worth families were overwhelmed by the march of regulation and the increasing need for transparency at the expense of privacy.
Meanwhile, during Jersey Finance’s Annual Funds Conference, entitled ‘A Future focus’ (24th April), two panels of leading fund practitioners, moderated by Amy Bryant and Michael Collins, CEO, Invest Europe, confirmed the ongoing importance of infrastructure and debt finance funds across the alternatives space and highlighted concern about the pace and complexity of regulatory change being a particular barrier to entry for smaller sponsors.
While there was inevitable uncertainty at the conference about the outcome of Brexit, there was optimism that a deal would be reached, but there was longer-term concern that difficulties would arise without the UK sitting at the EU table influencing debates on future financial regulation.
In relation to Jersey, Geoff Cook, CEO, Jersey Finance, said that Jersey’s finance industry was ‘Brexit ready, part of the British family and a good neighbour to Europe,’ a sentiment endorsed by Jersey’s Chief Minister, Senator Ian Gorst, who in a panel debate spoke of the economic value Jersey provided to the economies of both the UK and EU.
In a keynote interview, private equity grandee Marc St. John, Partner Investor Relations, CVC Capital Partners, spoke of the firm’s 30-year association with Jersey in an interview with Brendan McMahon, long-time Partner at PwC in Jersey and private equity specialist.
Meanwhile, in a session hosted by Geoff Cook, Mike Jones, Director of Policy, Jersey Financial Services Commission, discussed the role of the regulator in the virtual currency market alongside Jean-Marie Mognetti, Co-Principal, Global Advisors (Jersey) Limited, the firm that launched the world’s first regulated Bitcoin fund.
Geoff Cook commented: “For the first time we staged our two flagship London conferences back-to-back and I believe it has helped create really focused, impactful events for the finance and legal communities in London, with a record number of more than 750 delegates across the two events. We were delighted with the clarity of debate and the high-calibre of speakers, covering topics that are vital to the future of global finance.
“Overall, this was an opportunity to demonstrate Jersey’s willingness to work with the international community on key issues and showcase Jersey’s credentials as a safe harbour, a robust pathway to the European market for alternative funds, and an innovative high-quality IFC for international investors seeking future certainty.”
Both events were held at the award winning 8 Northumberland Avenue in London.
Notes to Editors:
Private wealth panellists included Salpy Kouyoumjian, Partner, Boodle Hatfield LLP; Dominic Samuelson, Chief Executive, Campden Wealth; Naomi Rive, Group Director Highvern; Catherine Grum, Head of Family Office Services, KPMG; Harvey Cammell, Deputy Chairman, Bonhams UK; James Haithwaite, Director, First Names Group; Andrew Shirley, Partner, Knight Frank; and Ella Lister, Founder and Chief Executive, Wine Lister.
Funds panelists included Tim Hames, Director General, BVCA; Nick Holman, Partner, Hogan Lovells; Lisa Cawley, Partner, Kirkland & Ellis LLP; Sir Simon Fraser, Managing Partner, Flint Global; Julian Jessop, Chief Economist, Institute of Economic Affairs; Antonia Burgess, Independent Non-Executive Director; and Chief Minister of Jersey, Senator Ian Gorst.