International Fund Conference Review: Positive in the face of adversity

The Second Annual International Funds Conference held on 9 January, 2009, at the Ritz-Carlton, Grand Cayman.

The organisers, Stuarts Walkers Hersant, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Cayman National Funds Services, hosted a full-house with a roster of speakers of international calibre. Attendees were impressed by the level of expertise exhibited by internationally renowned economists, lawyers and liquidation specialists sporting a veritable alphabet soup of qualifications

Topics ranged from complex fraud litigation, the nightmare of credit default swaps and other derivatives, due diligence concerns and systemic risk to directors’ duties and red flags for the unwary investor.

The prospect of creating an event surpassing that of 2008 was a challenging task for the organisers. Anthony Akiwumi, head of litigation at Stuarts Walker Hersant, said, “As the year progressed, it proved more difficult to secure guaranteed commitments from the speakers than from attendees – a situation we would never have envisaged. Many speakers were working round-the-clock advising individuals and funds making headline news. It was at this point that we realised we had secured the right people who would deliver real time information and this was particularly pleasing.”

Conference organisers were keen to differentiate the event from other fund events by providing leading edge presentations designed to appeal to and challenge a wide and knowledgeable audience. Detailed technical analyses of regulatory and tax compliance, restructuring and insolvency advice, reviewing the effects of US and global economic policies were provided by Tony Artabane of PwC in New York, Lawrence Edwards of STS Capital and Richard Rahn of the CATO Institute, Washington DC, while comparative analysis of UK and EU regulatory policies was provided by Timothy Ridley, a lawyer and former chairman of the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority, who delivered a provocative presentation regarding risks and potential liabilities for directors.

David Walker, a partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Cayman Islands, confirmed that the event sponsors were keen to ensure that attendees were provided with first-rate information from speakers working at the coal face in the US, particularly saying, “Bracewell Guiliani LLP, New York lawyers, were a natural choice as the firm have been involved in high-profile litigation and were, therefore, in a position to speak with authority on events making headline news. Delegates received the latest information”.

Particularly entertaining was the lunch time presentation delivered by economist Jerry Taylor from the CATO Institute who enlivened the audience with an outside-the-box view of US energy policies lambasting some of the accepted wisdom with compelling figures.

Nineteen experts made presentations throughout the day, including David Bree of dms Management, Gary Linford of DBTC and Yolanda McCoy from CIMA. Lively debate raged between panellists in a morning session that focused on high-profile litigation and due diligence concerns. At a later afternoon session, the focus was asset-tracing solutions leading to such an excitable exchange of views that one panellist requested a seat belt.

“It has not escaped us that the reputation of the International Funds Conference rests on the success of the previous year’s event. You are only as good as your last match,” said Andrew Hersant of Stuarts Walker Hersant. “Work has already begun on next year’s event, scheduled for 13 January, 2010 and we are confident that the event will be just as informative and controversial as its predecessor. We are pleased to have secured several high-profile speakers from around the world and remain convinced that the continued interaction through high-profile conferences such as these will only help to advance the levels of understanding between onshore practitioners and their offshore counterparts based in the Cayman Islands.”

Speaker presentations can be found at

Further details on next year’s International Funds Conference will be available later in the year by press release.

In the meantime, Stuarts Walker Hersant, together with RBC International Wealth Management, continues it promotion of the Cayman Islands and its financial services industry by hosting an invitation-only mini-conference at the Harvard Club, New York City in June titled Offshore Financial Markets Post Madoff: Challenges, Opportunities and Solutions for Private Clients.