Global Head of Funds Services Simon Page joined the company in 2017 to head up the management and development of Hawksford’s funds services offering. In this short space of time he has spearheaded a review of the service, followed by investment in established market-leading processes and expanded the dedicated funds team – with extremely positive results.
This evolution has been the catalyst for significant growth for Hawksford’s funds business.
Simon tells us more about his transformational first year with Hawksford and shares his sentiments on the funds industry.
What attracted you to the funds industry?
My background in financial services began in audit, working for the Big Four. I started my career 13 years ago at KPMG in the UK before moving to PwC in the Cayman Islands.
Working in the financial services industry in the Caribbean gave me insight into the offshore funds industry and experience working with large fund administration companies. I was particularly interested in the day-to-day operations of how the administrators bring together multiple skillsets to deliver the full complement of administration services for managers.
As the financial services industry was evolving into the complex and increasingly regulated world we have today, I understood the opportunity, personally, that was present as managers recognise the value of outsourcing elements of their administration processes to a reliable third party.
At Hawksford, I found a business with a clear objective and strategic direction – one which places clients and our relationships with clients, at the heart of everything they do, and ensures that we are focused every day on providing clients with a fast, effective and bespoke service.
Fund administration is an area of Hawksford’s business that has really started to rocket in the past 18 months. Tell us more.
There are a number of factors at play here.
Hawksford has taken huge steps to invest in its infrastructure to ensure that we are positioned to deliver on the promises we make to our clients.
Of course, it certainly helps that the funds industry itself is buoyant, and the alternatives asset sector has been a huge driver in this. Fund managers will always be attracted to Jersey, where Hawksford is headquartered and the funds team is based, as it is rightly regarded by the global financial services industry as a premier international finance centre (IFC).
We have redeveloped our operating model including the implementation of market-leading technology, such as eFront, I’ve also recruited fresh talent to the team. We wanted fund technicians who deeply understand the industry and we found them.
Jon Taylor manages the team delivering the day-to-day servicing and quality reporting needs of our administered funds. His technical knowledge, methodical approach and extensive experience in fund administration and co-sec is fundamental in delivering a rigorous service.
Bobby Stirling is Hawksford’s Head of Accounting. He leads the accounting team and is razor sharp in ensuring the highest standards of financial statements and book-keeping services are delivered. His skills ensure we can offer creative and pragmatic solutions for clients.
Assistant Manager Andrew Ferrari-Bradley works closely with the client accounting and fund administration teams assisting with on-going client activity and addressing technical matters across our client portfolios.
The newly implemented Client Support Service team provides a great level of KYC/AML and Co-Sec support across all of Hawksford’s teams, which is also a huge advantage for clients.
How does the internal structure and culture at Hawksford play a part in this?
Delivering exceptional structuring solutions for clients is at the heart of the company and every team.
The leadership, client delivery and business support teams are all bought into Hawksford’s vision: to be a leading corporate, private client and funds company that clients recommend, intermediaries prefer and employees are proud to be a part of.
Another driver in the funds team success, from my perspective, is the marketing team’s concerted efforts to elevate brand awareness and our reputation both internally and externally.
2018 is already looking like a stellar year for funds growth for the company.
What types of clients and funds areas do you specialise in, and what makes these areas so interesting?
We tend to focus on the smaller to mid-market managers, predominantly based in the UK; we are a natural fit for this market segment.
We are able to adapt to market and client demands, listening to, and understanding the opportunities and challenges facing them and collaborating to build a tailored solution to match these requirements.
We provide comfort to managers that their outsourced requirements are being met by a reliable third party. We are a business with the scale to invest in the best operational infrastructure for ensuring that managers to meet the ever increasing reporting requirements of a unique set of investors and the ever increasing demand for transparency.
This is against a backdrop of the variety of funds we are seeing change. Promoters having one strategy and then changing direction to a different strategy using their existing skills base. We have one client that uses a mix of private equity and venture models, combining cutting edge technology investments with conventional businesses.
Our clients by their nature tend to be more nimble and agile, an ethos which plays to Hawksford’s strengths too – and this combination is what makes these clients of great interest.
What’s next for Hawksford’s fund administration business?
I am focused on bedding in new clients and developing relationships with new and existing managers and intermediaries.
We need to continue to show what differentiates Hawksford’s funds offering to prospective clients and intermediaries. We have a positive story to tell and client successes to back this up. Our services are genuinely tailored to meet each client’s requirements because we are an agile, forward-looking company.
What are the challenges and opportunities for fund administrators and the industry at large?
As an industry there are a number of challenges that managers and administrators are wary of. Uncertainty and macro-economic factors such as Brexit and the suggestion of protectionism from the EU, and even America, will continue to capture managers and administrators’ attentions.
Added to this uncertainty, there are the increasing regulatory demands facing the industry and the drive towards greater transparency.
However, as a sector, alternative assets have continued to be in demand. Alternatives have historically delivered robust returns. The industry demonstrated during the financial crisis its ability to deliver superior returns in bad times as well as good.
Fund administrators we have the opportunity to provide managers with stability and to continue to prove that we can offer solid structuring solutions combined with accurate and timely reporting. Delivery of exceptional service and to keep on delivering in the face of this ever evolving landscape.
Whilst this challenge will not change for administrators, there does need to be an evolution. The world is continually changing and exciting sectors such as fintech will push boundaries. As fund administrators operating from a world leading IFC, we are ideally placed to respond proactively to challenges and opportunities and leverage our deep industry knowledge.
Global Head of Client Accounting
Bobby has oversight for Hawksford’s accounting team and is responsible for ensuring the highest standards of financial statements and book-keeping services are delivered.
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