Partnerships, innovation and reputation were three themes which emerged from the 2023 Guernsey Finance Funds Forum.
The event, The Future of Funds, opened with an address by Michael Moore, Director General of the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association, who reminded the audience of the scale of the UK’s venture capital and private equity industry and Guernsey’s role in its success.
“The partnership between us really matters. It’s about the predictability of what we hear, the ease of doing business, that is a good calling card, as well as the pool of experience on our doorstep whether it’s here in the UK or Guernsey or up north in Leeds,” he said.
“If we don’t continue to offer these important features of ease of doing business, the network effect of having the largest hub of private equity and venture capital expertise anywhere in the world outside of the United States of America we will be diminished.
“For us as an industry, the partnership we have between the UK and Guernsey, to me underpins a private capital industry that has established its credentials, is of significance for the future.”
The afternoon’s first panel session focused on innovation with Laurence Hulse, Investment Director – Dowgate Wealth; Rongrong Huo, Executive Director of Ninety One; Eric Martineau-Fortin, Founder & Managing Partner of White Star Capital and Rosie Wardle, Co-Founder and Partner of Synthesis Capital shared their insights on emerging asset classes.
Laurence zoned in on two asset classes – battery storage and UK commercial forestry. He said: “Both have a two-facet approach where they both massively outperform equity markets and provide diversified returns.’ He acknowledged that both are also ‘doing good for the good for the world.”
Rosie Wardle discussed Synethesis Capital’s specialism in food tech venture capital. The organisation’s close-ended fund, a designated Guernsey Green Fund, invests in founders disrupting the food system. She was clear that investors truly do get impact intertwined with financial return. The fund invests in 3-D printing that creates ‘whole cut’ structured meat products, cow-free diary produce and non-GMO plant protein ingredients.
‘By being specialist, we can constantly evolve our strategy, we can keep ahead of the trends and pick the winners.
‘Prices in meat are going up, and in the coming years we are expecting the price of the products we are exploring to come down – they will soon meet in the middle. This is a $5 trillion global industry that needs disrupting, so the potential is enormous, it’s no longer seen as niche and is in dire need of innovation.’
The second panel session welcomed Ana Haurie, Co-founder and CEO of Respira International; Leonard Ng, Co-Head of UK/EU Financial Services Regulatory group – Sidley Austin and Cees Vermaas, CEO of The International Stock Exchange.
When it comes to choosing the right domicile, Leonard suggested that the reputation of the jurisdiction is driven from both its political and regulatory structure, as well as commercial and more practical aspects such as the pool of lawyers and directors. He was quick to praise Guernsey in meeting all of these needs.
Ana, reinforced the importance of familiarity and reminded the audience that Guernsey has a leading position in the hedge funds sector. Ana, who has worked with Guernsey domiciled funds since 2001, described the jurisdiction as the ‘go to place’ for Respira International – animpact-driven carbon finance business which channels private capital into nature-based projects.
Highlighting the importance of reputation, she said: “We turned to Guernsey, which is a very enabling environment. US institutional investors are comfortable with it, as well those from Europe.”
Leonard added: “It’s absolutely key that when you’re trying to raise capital for a partner or a vehicle, you want the fund domicile reputation to be so good, you don’t need to explain it.”
Nearly 500 industry professionals attended the afternoon which followed a new format with two masterclass workshops – How to Set Up a Fund – hosted by Carey Olsen and How to Choose the Right Jurisdiction – hosted by JTC.
The closing keynote by Steve Backshall MBE, saw the naturalist and author sharing his passion for exploring and adventure in the most remote corners of the planet.
Rupert Pleasant, Chief Executive of Guernsey Finance, reflected on the afternoon, saying: “The record numbers attending today’s Funds Forum are a testament to the themes we discussed. Guernsey’s reputation, its position as a premier jurisdiction for innovation and as a place to collaborate and do business has been reinforced by all of our speakers and endorsed by attendees.”

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