Resilience in the face of an uncertain market, including the Covid-19 pandemic, and a stable platform designed to provide the perfect ecosystem for alternative funds should position Jersey strongly in the short and long-term, according to the chairman of the Jersey Funds Association (JFA).
With this year’s JFA Annual Dinner being postponed until later this year, Chair Tim Morgan gave a webinar update last week (3 June), when he provided an overview of the current funds landscape, the work of the JFA and also outlined future opportunities for the industry.
Pointing to the fact that Jersey’s funds industry recorded a new record high of fund assets being administered last year (£346bn), a figure that included a 19% year-on-year jump in private equity business in particular, Tim commented
“In the first part of 2020, we continued to see a steady demand for Jersey funds, including from existing managers continuing to launch, often with larger, successor funds. Just as importantly, we’ve seen a sustained strong take up of the Jersey Private Fund, with managers converting to the structure and a growing number of smaller, start-up and spin-out managers opting for it too where the JPF’s scalability and cost effectiveness, combined with Jersey’s opt in approach for EU marketing, makes it a particularly strong choice for new structures. There are now more than 350 JPFs, which is a hugely positive story and a great endorsement of Jersey’s reputation as a specialist centre for alternatives.”
In addition, Tim highlighted some key findings from a recent survey of JFA members, which revealed a widespread positivity around key issues such as Brexit:
“The European market is still grappling with Brexit uncertainty, but actually more than 80% of our members consider that Brexit will have either a neutral or positive impact on business flows – due largely to the success of Jersey’s market access model, including private placement into Europe and seamless global access into other geographies.
“Of course, the coronavirus pandemic remains front and centre of minds at the moment too, but Jersey has shown real resilience, flexed its digital muscle and introduced measures such as enhanced digital filing and electronic powers of attorney, as well as guidelines on meetings during the pandemic to help keep business flowing in difficult times. In fact, with 100% of homes and businesses in Jersey connected to a pure fibre gigabit-speed network which is the fastest of any jurisdiction in Europe, Jersey’s connectivity has supported high service levels and has helped launch some notable funds during the course of lockdown.”
Looking to the future, Tim highlighted that Jersey’s strengths in alternatives would position it ideally against global market trends, with PwC forecasting growth of almost 9% across the asset classes over the coming five years*. He said:
“Our core strengths as an alternative funds centre, particularly across private equity, real estate, infrastructure and credit funds remain the same – our stability, experience, expertise, service levels, cost-effectiveness, legal framework, tax transparency and regulatory standards. However, competition from other centres remains strong and the regulatory environment remains highly complex, so we need to keep innovating and adapting to meet the needs of alternative fund managers.
“To that end, we are focused on enhancing our range of structuring options, and we are focused on promoting our capabilities in the ESG space. We’re also anticipating a rise in co-investment and fund finance activity, a resurgence in the use of Jersey property unit trusts to facilitate investment into the real estate market, and opportunities in outsourced work as managers look for specific support expertise such as governance and compliance, areas where Jersey excels.”
*PwC Market Research Centre