Dart recently hosted an event for the members of the Cayman Islands’ chapter of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP) to present the findings of a new research report on the family office sector in the Cayman Islands.
This was the first face-to-face conference to take place since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic on Grand Cayman. Sue Nickason, Dart Vice President Real Estate Marketing and Sales, presented the findings, which outlined the key factors of importance to those who were looking either to locate a new family office or expand an existing one.
A key finding was that, overall, the Cayman Islands are considered an appealing jurisdiction for family offices, other financial investment, and real estate organisations.
The research showed that Grand Cayman’s unique qualities are differentiating factors.
“Quality is the element that unites,” said Nickason, adding that the quality of Cayman’s people, the quality of the place and its quality of life all combine to offer a unique value proposition for family offices.
“The trinity of people, place and life is special and unique to Cayman.”
The primary considerations for those seeking a suitable location for a family office are the needs of the family and its advisors, professional expertise, and reputation; family sentiment about relocating; convenience and ease of immigration. The ranking of these factors differs depending on where individuals are relocating from.
Similar time zones, geographical proximity, tax neutrality, low crime rates, an excellent communications infrastructure, a vibrant real estate market, the fact that English is the official language and an opportunity for an attractive lifestyle on a tropical island are factors that are particularly valued by those from the United States and Canada. A stable economy, and a legal system underpinned strongly by the rule of law is of significant importance to citizens of Latin America and South America.
Nickason said. “What is important to someone in Canada won’t be equally important to someone from Brazil when they’re looking to establish a family office or to expand.
“That’s not to say that an attribute that is important to someone from South America isn’t important to someone from the U.S. or Canada; it’s just not as high on the list.
“Cayman’s tax-neutral status is becoming an increasingly important factor for South American families.”
The presentation was then followed by a panel discussion moderated by Chris Duggan, VP Business Development at Dart, to discuss the pro and cons of setting up family offices in the Cayman Islands.
Tamara Corbin, Partner at Rawlinson & Hunter, stated that the company has seen an increase in enquiries from clients in various jurisdictions, including the United States, Canada, South America and Asia.
“In some cases, they had made enquiries before, and chose another jurisdiction but now they’re coming back to Cayman,” Corbin said. She added that in some cases clients are looking to establish a secondary family office to supplement an existing one elsewhere.
Bernadette Carey, Partner at Carey Olsen, revealed that she had seen a rapidly increasing level of interest in and enquiries about family offices in the Cayman Islands from the United States. Previously this was relatively uncommon.
Carey went on to say: “Now we’re getting an enquiry every week. The political, social, and pandemic situations in the United States are major reasons for the trend.
They’re saying, ‘I just want some peace in my life.’”
Andrew Miller, Partner at Bedell Cristin, advised that most of the family office enquiries that he receives emanate from Latin America and reflect the positive impressions that his clients have about what Grand Cayman can offer them.
Miller also believes the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic has made many high-net-worth individuals reassess where they want to live and work.
“Because of COVID, they discovered they could run their global office from the Hamptons or London,” he said. “But they’re less enthusiastic about living in a big city at the moment and they’re thinking about making what was temporary, permanent.”
The Cayman Islands aims to encourage the setting up of family offices, as wealthy individuals can make a positive economic impact in the jurisdiction through spending and investments, whilst not participating in the local business and employment marketplaces. The Cayman Islands Government was represented on the panel by Chief Officer Eric Bush, JP of Cayman’s Ministry of International Trade, Investment, Aviation and Maritime Affairs (MITIAMA). MITIAMA is responsible for monitoring and enhancing external relationships as well as identifying and attracting international trade and investment to the Cayman Islands.
The research paper was produced in conjunction with Wealth-X and Barton Consulting – the two global leaders in market data and research within the private wealth segment. The report was conducted with professional advisors based in key markets around the world, via in-depth interviews with the likes of residency and citizenship consultants, lawyers, trustees, asset managers and private bankers, multi-family office advisors, tax advisors and ultra-high-net-worth lifestyle consultants.
To request a copy of the research paper please visit familyofficereport.dartrealestate.com.