What does your firm do?
Hawksford provides a wide range of creative, tailored, financial and structural solutions, for corporations, private clients and investment. The Cayman Islands, where I am based, is home to one of six offices where we help clients who seek a neutral tax regime, security for their assets, confidentiality of their affairs and first class financial administration services.
What has STEP done for you, individually, or as a business?
STEP provides essential training for new administrators to the industry so that they learn both the broader theory and practical side of the business. It also provides a social and business forum where contacts are made, issues are discussed, and networking brings together the industry's participants and best practice from around the world.
Hawksford works closely with STEP and many of our employees are STEP qualified or in the processes of gaining their qualifications. We recognise the legitimacy that these qualifications bring and consider STEP as a benchmark of professionalism.
STEP recognised our commitment to developing our employees' skills in March when Hawksford (Jersey) was awarded the Platinum Employment Partner accreditation award from the Employer Partnership Programme, which recognises excellence in learning and development practice.
What is the most important thing STEP does, in your opinion?
It does a number of important things in terms of education, accreditation, networking, advising and leadership. However its most important achievement, I feel, is that it successfully created a cohesive industry from disparate and diverse functions, spread across the entire globe. No mean feat.
What do you most like about your job?
I am fortunate enough to work for an international business that is endlessly changing and challenging. Clients are drawn from across the globe and invariably have an interesting background. Business travel is almost a necessity - which is generally enjoyable - and diversity and challenge make the job anything but mundane. There's a lot to like.
.. and what do you feel is most worthwhile?
We aim to provide solutions, and solving people's problems is a good feeling. In particular, our industry helps people to feel they have planned how their family and business interests will progress, and they are comforted by the knowledge that they have done everything they can to make their family and business future more secure.
What would you say to a young person thinking of a career in this industry?
A challenging job in a technically demanding field, ideally working in a great location with international travel is pretty compelling.
Where do you see future growth, both in terms of sectors and jurisdictions?
Both corporate and private client services will continue to grow. As a trust professional, it's clear to me that the trust structure is a way to plan for the future and avoid many of the pitfalls of life. Challenges such as spend-thrift children, messy divorces, crippling legal claims, complicated inheritance scenarios, and risky operating businesses that could become a liability, are becoming more common. All can be mitigated with forethought and planning, and by asking a trustee to hold assets for the benefit of others.
The Cayman Islands holds many advantages in terms of the provision of wealth protection, preservation and growth. Cayman is seeing an increase in the number of financial service operations opening additional offices; this is due to the robust regulatory regime, tax neutrality and security, all of which the Cayman Islands Government strongly supports.
What do you feel are the main challenges facing practitioners at the moment, and how will you deal with them?
Given all the legitimate reasons to hold assets in trusts, I am confident the industry will continue to thrive. The Common Reporting Standard (CRS) will level the playing field amongst the jurisdictions, and that will present both challenges and opportunities.
Those that had a niche or a particular advantage may find it eroded, particularly if other aspects of their environment are less than favourable. The tax benefits of a trust have long been under pressure and smaller value trusts may no longer be economically viable, reducing the overall number of clients and changing their geographic diversity. And like any other industry, regulation, while essential, continues to impose a heavy workload as we contend with ever changing laws and tighter requirements.
Which social media channels do you use and why?
Hawksford has a presence across Linked In, Twitter and Facebook. However personally, Linked In is the channel that I find most useful; it allows me to connect and engage directly with my professional peers, and my colleagues internationally.