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Island looks to attract more hedge funds

Aima crew: setting up a branch of the International Alternative Investment Management Association in Bermuda are, from left, Craig Bridgewater, Sally Penrose, Laura Knox and Matthew Ebbs-Brewer

A bid is being made to bring more jobs to Bermuda by boosting the presence of hedge funds.

Island professionals are to combine to form a branch of the Alternative Investment Management Association to attract the hedge-fund sector back to Bermuda.

Craig Bridgewater, a managing director at professional services company KPMG, is part of a committee set up to promote the association. He said a cocktail reception to publicise the organisation will be held at the Bermuda National Gallery at City Hall on March 3.

Jeremy Cox, chief executive officer of the Bermuda Monetary Authority, will be the keynote speaker. A representative of the Bermuda Business Development Agency will also attend.

“We have come together to try and increase the presence of Aima in Bermuda — it’s a global organisation which has headquarters in London, but branches in major cities around the world,” said Mr Bridgewater.

“Something like Aima brings the whole industry together in a collegiate atmosphere which is a big bonus for the industry.”

Bermuda was a leader in the hedge-fund industry until the Cayman Islands, starting in the 1990s, attracted much of the business. That jurisdiction now has nearly 11,000 funds, some 15 times more than Bermuda.

Mr Bridgewater said: “If we increase investment-fund activity on the island there are funds themselves which are investing, but these provide lots of jobs.”

He said that hedge funds use the services of multiple professionals, including lawyers, accountants and directors, which in turn bolster the economy.

“If these jobs go up, that brings wider economic activity. It can also bring in companies to set up offices and manage their funds here, bringing more jobs.”

And Mr Bridgewater said there were “a lot of synergies” between Bermuda’s existing insurance and reinsurance sectors and asset management.

“We are seeing some success already; people coming to the island, looking around and saying they want to do business here.”

But he stressed that Bermuda was not trying to replace Cayman, but attempting to give the hedge-fund industry alternatives.

“It’s really about putting the story back out there that it’s a good package.”

Laura Knox, head of director services and product development at Harbour Financial Services, part of the Wakefield Quin legal firm, added: “The emphasis is really on new business. Fund managers in New York, for example, have said ‘we want to start a fund, let’s call Cayman’. What we want to do is increase our profile internationally. There’s tons of new business going to Cayman and there is no reason why that shouldn’t come to us.”

Mr Bridgewater added: “Aima can provide networking opportunities. We’re trying to increase that activity and make it available in Bermuda.”

The organising committee, which also includes Sally Penrose and Matthew Ebbs-Brewer of offshore legal firm Appleby, said it had already won the backing of the BMA and the BDA.

Major local firms like new law firm Walkers, Conyers Dill & Pearman and professional services firms PwC, Deloitte and EY, as well as KPMG and Appleby, have agreed to sponsor next month’s promotional event.

Ms Knox said the event has already gathered considerable support, with 90 attendees confirmed from their original target of 100 professionals.

Mr Bridgewater added that Aima, which celebrated its 25th anniversary last year and now has 1,700 member companies and 10,000 individual members in 55 countries, was a major force in promoting the investment industry on a global basis.

He said: “It’s a big part of their job to be advocates for the industry. After the financial crisis there was a big attack on the investment industry and Aima was key in standing up for the industry.”

For further details about the event, e-mail aimaevents@kpmg.bm