Jersey’s focus on the alternatives market has positioned it positively given ongoing strong sentiment amongst allocators, but innovation will remain key to Jersey’s future success, according to the chairman of the Jersey Funds Association (JFA).

Speaking at this year’s annual JFA Dinner (11th May) held at the Royal Jersey Showground, Mike Byrne told an audience of over 480 funds professionals, senior politicians and regulatory representatives that Jersey provides “the very best ecosystem for a funds industry”, with figures for the end of 2017 indicating that the total net asset value of funds under administration in Jersey stood at more than £291bn, up 15% year-on-year.

Pointing to rising levels of business across the alternative asset classes, Mike commented: 

“Global allocation to alternatives continues to increase, from pensions, sovereign wealth funds and institutional investors, and we are seeing that in Jersey, with ever-increasing allocations to private equity, private debt, real estate and infrastructure. Our latest figures indicate that Jersey’s funds industry is in excellent health. 

“However, those figures are only part of the story – they don’t take into account the Jersey Private Fund (JPF). We know that over the thirteen months since the JPF was introduced, 121 have been launched. I’m optimistic that if we were to include JPF data, that would push us clearly through the £300bn mark.

“We’re also seeing a growing community of managers who are fully resident in the island, across private equity, hedge funds, debt, real estate and crypto. These managers are bringing a real depth and diversity to our industry, at a time when questions around substance are never far from the agenda. Vitally, they are also providing some excellent opportunities for further diversity in career choice for our school leavers and graduates.”

Meanwhile, Mike pointed to challenges faced by the industry:

“The industry has faced a number of significant challenges over the past year. Brexit continues to be one area of uncertainty but it has not had the impact on our industry that might have been feared. In fact, since Brexit we have seen some of the largest funds ever raised in Jersey – Softbank’s Vision Fund, CVC Fund 7, and Nordic 9 to name just a few.

“A key question around Brexit has been how we bring to life the Jersey proposition for both EU and non-EU investors. It is vital that we continue to develop clear and compelling messages, in particular in relation to the opportunity afforded by our private placement regime. There are now close to 150 alternative fund managers going to market through private placement in Jersey, with almost 300 funds distributed into Europe through these channels, a 15% year on year increase.”

Looking to the future, Mike emphasised the importance of innovation for Jersey’s success:

“Product innovation remains key to how we stay on top. With that in mind we look forward to shortly welcoming onto the statute books our Limited Liability Company (‘LLC’) and Jersey Registered Alternative Investment Fund (‘JRAIF’) products, which we envisage will help us maintain the momentum we’ve seen with JPF and LLP vehicles.  We must continue to evolve and respond to the world in which we operate. If we can do that I remain confident of the future of the funds industry in Jersey.”

Lead sponsor for the evening was Mourant and Silver sponsors were BNP Paribas Securities Services, Moore, Ogier and PwC, whilst the champagne reception was sponsored by Carey Olsen.