In January 2018, the Cayman Islands Branch of the Society of Trusts and Estates Practitioners held its inaugural International Wealth Structuring Forum at the Kimpton Seafire hotel. The Forum promoted the Cayman Islands as a leader in the global wealth management industry, and educated and informed attendees, who included STEP members and the general public, as to developments and issues of relevance in the jurisdiction.

Extremely well attended by both onshore and offshore professionals, the forum is now widely acknowledged by delegates to be the leading private client conference in the Cayman Islands and plans are already underway to ensure the return of the forum in 2019.

The Forum

STEP, a global network of professionals who specialize in family inheritance and succession planning, has a significant membership base in the Cayman Islands comprising lawyers, accountants, fiduciaries and other wealth structuring specialists. From that membership base, and via STEP’s global network, 254 people registered to attend the forum over two days to listen to a number of highly regarded speakers who led insightful discussions on the developments impacting the private client industry from both a Cayman and an international perspective. In addition to receiving cutting-edge guidance, delegates were also provided with extensive networking opportunities among fellow experts from the wealth management industry.


The content of the forum was expansive and covered notable developments in trust litigation, data protection and private client confidentiality, as well as guidance regarding the holding of unusual assets in trusts, and succession planning in the light of advances in medical science and technology. Presentations included panel discussions, break-out sessions, and topical group case studies all with up-to-date information and insightful analyses of new laws, structures, and cases.

The conference program began with presentations by Alan Milgate, the chair of STEP Cayman and Tara Rivers, minister of Financial Services and Home Affairs, followed by a speech by the Chief Justice of the Cayman Islands Anthony Smellie QC, who formally opened the conference with a summary of his perspective on notable developments in international trust law. The speech by the chief justice was followed by a memorable panel of leading industry practitioners who discussed the age old ‘art or science’ question in the context of wealth structuring. Further sessions throughout the day touched on the challenges facing practitioners in the areas of effective compromise, data protection and client confidentiality, structuring for private aircraft, superyachts and other unusual assets, and considering family office operations and issues. The day concluded with delegates being treated to a substantive, albeit slightly light-hearted, mock court application from leading Cayman and international advocates.

The second day of the forum combined a session imparting essential knowledge on how to best support clients based in Latin America (a discussion which was led by private client advisors from Mexico, Chile and Argentina) with segments addressing what it takes to be an exceptional trustee and how to use the new Cayman Foundation Companies Law to good effect. A separate discussion of the implications for the wealth management industry of the dramatic improvements in medical technology that will soon be available – including clones and the use of deceased settlors’ DNA – was followed by very lively and well researched assessments of how trustees might cope with generational changes and differences and whether millennials really deserve their reputation.

All in all, the conference offered a refreshing format, with topical content and a focus on the transfer of knowledge among delegates. Given its location at the Kimpton Seafire, and a number of social events planned by the Forum organizers, delegates also had ample opportunities to enjoy the hotel’s expansive facilities, and Cayman’s natural beauty.

Promoting Cayman

Thanks largely to key sponsors the Ministry of Financial Services & Home Affairs, Dart Enterprises, Harneys, Rawlinson & Hunter, CIBC Bank and Trust Company (Cayman) Limited, and Sharp Partners P.A, and careful organisation by STEP Cayman’s Forum Committee, the forum was a great success. It is likely to become a key component of the international private wealth calendar and the jurisdiction’s wider marketing efforts. Promoting Cayman as a jurisdiction of choice via the forum has ultimately been an easy task, and one that will be repeated and capitalized on in 2019.