Benefits of well planned offices
The most recent Global Financial Centres Index1 – a ranking of the competitiveness of financial centres based on a survey of close to 27,000 industry professionals together with more than 60 indices – places accessibility of business infrastructure, availability of first-rate commercial property and overall quality of life among its top 10 competitiveness factors.
Camana Bay, a vibrant and growing town in the heart of Grand Cayman, is proving just how those attributes can motivate world-class firms to choose it as a business location, resulting in Camana Bay quickly becoming recognised as the newest ‘hub’ for the Cayman Islands financial services community.
Offering more than 600,000 square feet of office, retail and residential space and with just over 1,000 people currently living and working in the thriving Town Centre, Camana Bay is firmly established as a central place for financial services firms looking to realise the direct and indirect benefits to their businesses of choosing a strategic location for their operations.
In fact, the mix of financial services organisations that now (or soon) will call Camana Bay home is as varied and diverse as Cayman’s financial industry itself, representing the banking, funds and insurance sectors, as well as legal, accounting and related professional service providers.
The significant commercial footprint of Camana Bay – with its various phases expected to generate more than US$2 billion in economic returns over the next 10 years – combined with the longstanding fiscal contributions of Cayman’s financial services sector, which currently accounts for just over 50 per cent of the country’s GDP2, suggests a natural intersection between the two entities, making the Cayman Islands an even more attractive place to do business.
In practical terms, Camana Bay means business. It incorporates all the benefits expected of a commercial office development of its size and stature and is ideally suited to the needs of the global financial services community.
Camana Bay provides the largest concentration of class ‘A’ office space in the Cayman Islands, providing ample room for expanding financial services firms.
The sophisticated networking and telecommunications infrastructure – including fibre optics and free Wi-Fi access throughout the entire Camana Bay community – as well as environmentally friendly and energy efficient office environments scalable to any size or type of business, underscore the functionality of Camana Bay’s commercial spaces.
Business continuity is assured through not only design specifications that meet Miami-Dade Notice of Acceptance (NOA) standards for resilience in the event of major storm conditions, but through Camana Bay’s comprehensive data centre, which offers a full array of back up and contingency operations unmatched in the Caribbean.
The integrated ‘live, work, play’ philosophy of Camana Bay provides employees of financial services firms with access to several value-added benefits to compliment their office environments, including attractive and varied outdoor public areas, restaurants, shops, medical and fitness facilities, all steps away from each other allowing them to be used with minimal disruption to employee productivity.
The melding of work and lifestyle within the Camana Bay community is also well-suited to the global nature of the financial services sector, where industry practitioners need to work outside of normal office hours to service clients around the world in emerging markets like China, India, Brazil, as well as established markets in the US, Canada, Europe and the rest of Asia.
For financial services firms needing to host clients in the Cayman Islands, the physical benefits of Camana Bay coincide with the quality, stability and integrity for which the Cayman Islands financial services sector is known the world over and offers a showcase of sorts for current or prospective clients of the best of what the Cayman Islands has to offer.
Camana Bay tenants including Cayman National Bank, Citco, Ogier Cayman and Greenlight Re, among others, readily cite the many benefits of locating their businesses at Camana Bay.
“Greenlight Re selected Camana Bay as the spot for our global headquarters because Camana Bay’s commitment to Cayman matches ours and because our employees enjoy the diversity of entertainment, shopping and business that’s available here,” said Bart Hedges, Chief Executive Officer.
Robert Thomas, managing director of Citco, agrees. “Making the decision to relocate to Camana Bay was a relatively easy one. We were impressed with the whole concept of a comprehensive office complex situated in lovely surroundings and offering a complete work and living environment including services, restaurants and amenities.”
Practical considerations aside, there are other intrinsic business benefits that Camana Bay offers financial services sector firms, centred around the notion that work environments contribute to employee satisfaction, which in turn results in better business outcomes.
Teresa Amabile, PhD, teaches business administration and entrepreneurship at Harvard University. For decades, she has focused her academic research on how work environments can influence motivation, creativity and performance of individuals and teams. Her research suggests that positive employee environments “can actually lead to more flexible, fluent and original thinking” on an ongoing basis.
When considering the applicability of this idea to the Cayman Islands financial services sector, which bases its success on the ability and motivation of its employees to deliver high-quality service to global clients on a day-to-day basis, it is easy to see how the design and employee amenities offered by Camana Bay can be an outcome welcomed by any business striving to succeed.
Dan MacLean, managing director of Aon, confirms this when describing his firm’s decision to relocate to Camana Bay. (Aon will occupy a key section of Camana Bay’s newest office development, scheduled for completion in 2012).
“We are looking to bring the company, our colleagues and our culture together on one floor, break down the walls literally and conceptually, and move to a very open concept and modern design,” he said. “As the leading global firm in our industry, Aon wanted to align with a firm [Camana Bay developers Dart Realty] that shares our core values of delivering distinctive client value and developing unmatched teams and talent.”
MacLean’s identification of talent management and recruitment in a competitive sector such as global financial services is a common theme. In this regard, any edge that firms can offer current or prospective employees is useful, and many of Camana Bay’s financial services tenants are using their location as part of their overall human resources approach to support both recruitment and retention.
Another emerging perspective in commercial real estate circles is the view that office environments are tools to facilitate efficiency and organisational effectiveness.
Robert Osgood, Senior Vice President of VOA, a strategic planning, architecture and design firm, has helped devise site plans and workplace strategies for a number of Fortune 500 companies and dozens of other high-performing organisations that align with and enhance core business objectives.
He has identified a number of business benefits that can be tied to strategic planning when it comes to office environments, in addition to the traditional areas of improved employee recruitment and retention (see side bar).
Camana Bay fully subscribes to this approach, evidenced by its development team’s success in working with several financial services firms to develop spaces that not only provide offices, but also help facilitate tenants’ business needs, whether they include innovation, productivity or team collaboration.
“As a professional services firm with a global client base, our ability to work seamlessly across teams and practice areas is one of the most critical components of our day-to-day business,” explained Peter Cockhill, managing partner of Ogier, the global legal and fiduciary services firm.
“To that end, our office environment at Camana Bay allows our teams and professionals to collaborate easily with each to the ultimate benefit of our clients. Our staff are the most valuable asset that we have, and our offices are an important component of our efforts to create a positive working environment that will allow our employees to excel and our firm to succeed,” he said.
Similarly, Cayman National Bank has tied its presence at Camana Bay to its growth strategies.
“Choosing to establish a bank and to relocate our international business divisions in Camana Bay amongst some of the world’s leading companies was the right decision for us,” said CNB President Ormond Williams. “From this platform we have the opportunity to leverage who we are – a firm with local roots combined with strong international capacity and reach.”
Another by-product of the concentration of financial services firms at Camana Bay that will only become more prominent over time and could eventually deliver a unique benefit to businesses located there is the potential for collaboration across firms and sectors. With a cross-section of Cayman’s financial services sector and industries within steps of each other at Camana Bay, its developers have recognised the future opportunity that exists by capitalising on the intellectual capital that resides there.
Dart Realty is exploring strategies to promote collaboration among Camana Bay’s financial services community in ways that could facilitate mutual benefits for all involved, consistent with the innovative approach that Camana Bay is bringing to community building.
Cayman’s financial services industry is poised for future growth in key areas such as investment fund management, reinsurance and other growth areas of institutional investment. Camana Bay is ready and willing to support this growth by adding additional class ‘A’ office accommodation and over the long term through overall design considerations for the subsequent phases of Camana Bay.
The Dart Group is committed to the Cayman Islands and its continued success as a country and as a community. Camana Bay’s relationship with the Cayman Islands financial services sector and the financial industry internationally (to the extent that growth opportunities exist for the jurisdiction) is a key component of that commitment.
If the relationships to date between the Camana Bay and Cayman’s financial services sector are any indication of future success, the best is surely yet to come.
1 Global Financial Centres Index
2 Cayman Islands Economics and Statistics Office
3 Working Knowledge (Harvard Business School), September 2006
4 Site Selection, January 2002