STEP Cayman: A three-year snapshot

Photograph of a pen and pocket watch sitting on a will with 'Last Will and Testament' written in nice script.

In 2016, driven by the vision of branch chair Alan Milgate, the Cayman Islands branch of the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners embarked on a three-year plan to ensure that it could better support its membership base, and that the Cayman Islands as a jurisdiction stayed at the forefront of the trust industry. The key drivers of this plan were to build momentum, embrace change, and to increase the branch’s visibility, ensuring the continued growth and success of STEP Cayman. At the recent annual general meeting of the branch, Milgate as outgoing chair reflected on the success of the plan and the bright future of the branch.

Momentum

The focus of the first year was to gain momentum and re-energize the branch’s objectives and purpose. To avoid stagnating in the ever-changing global market, the branch was eager to remain alert to and proactive in respect of the challenges facing the industry. Re-energizing the branch’s marketing, and increasing its overall visibility were of critical importance. The organization and structuring of the branch’s sub-committees was also a key focus. At the end of year one, the branch had successfully achieved many of our action points and got the ball rolling towards achieving STEP’s wider objectives.

Change

Flowing from this gained momentum, year two focused on change. With a strong understanding of what challenges needed to be addressed, the work of the branch’s sub-committees was fundamental in driving this change forward. The Legislative Sub-Committee was and remains actively engaged with the government and Cayman Finance in dealing with requests and consultation papers that are relevant to Cayman’s trust industry. The work of the Legislative Sub-Committee has ensured that we maintain a healthy dialogue with the voices enacting legislative change, and to that end are working together towards positive development and growth. The ultimate success of this can be seen by the recently updated Trust Law, together with the passing of the Foundations Companies Law. The Legislative Sub-Committee is continuing its efforts by working on the development of the Family Office legislation, which would increase the overall appeal of the jurisdiction to Family Offices.

Visibility

The focus in the third year has been on visibility. The new Communications and Marketing Sub-Committee has been instrumental on this front with the on-going development of our branch microsite, promoting the branch online and in print, and overall improving our dialogue with members and relevance as a jurisdiction. In addition, and in response to evolving compliance requirements from FACTA, CRS and global reporting, the Global Transparency Sub-Committee has become a permanent and essential fixture to our organization. Their work has been integral for us to provide our members with the information they need to ensure understanding of the ever-changing requirements we must meet; and this Sub-Committee is in regular communication with the Cayman Islands Department of International Tax Cooperation to ensure that Cayman financial institutions can work effectively to provide accurate reporting within prescribed timescales. The branch has also focused on the public registers initiative coming out of the United Kingdom, which is proposing orders in council by 2020 and is currently assessing the implications of the public registers and considering the appropriate steps forward. Education and the advancement of members is of utmost importance to the branch and there will be more initiatives on this front in the coming year.

Finally, the inaugural STEP Cayman conference was one of the branch’s major achievements in recent times. With 246 attendees and an extremely high caliber of international experts, the conference shined a brilliant light on Cayman’s trust industry. Following the success of this year’s conference, the save the date for next year’s highly anticipated conference has been sent for Jan. 31, 2019. It is expected to be a further great success.

The Future

Over the past three years, the focus on momentum, change, and visibility has clearly propelled the branch forward and increased lines of communications with the branch’s membership base. STEP continues to build strong relationships with the Monetary Authority, the government, and Cayman Finance, ensuring the trust industry has the right voice within these key sectors. The branch is proud of what it has accomplished and hopes to continue proactively moving forward to ensure the Cayman Islands remains a premier trust jurisdiction. Thanks to the support of council and committee members, branch members, and other parties who have contributed their hard work over the years, the branch’s accomplishments continue to grow.