As the sun set on Day Three of GAIM Ops Cayman, bringing the 2016 event to a close, it seemed that amid the ever more challenging market conditions and operational obstacles to overcome, that for once, there were perhaps a few more answers than questions.
Sharing knowledge and raising the bar of best practice, the service providers, investors, allocators and managers that lead the hedge fund industry, came together once more in beautiful Grand Cayman for a programme built around the key themes of greater transparency, regulatory challenges and the best way to perform due diligence on service providers.
“Thought provoking sessions from industry experts were combined with excellent networking opportunities,” said Catherine Streeter, Director, Cash Management at BlackRock, who had attended the conference from London.
Investors and managers participating in the panels included representatives of some of the industry’s most prominent names, including: Cerberus, York Capital, PAAMCO and Atalaya Capital. The Regulators’ Panel was a particular highlight, with the FBI and the US District Attorney’s office in the Southern District of New York taking part.
Participants remarked positively on the format which held main sessions in the morning and increased the range of learning opportunities in the afternoon with over 60 mini-workshops, technology summits and a personal development track, including communication and career growth. The more informal nature of these sessions, encouraged collaboration and presented better networking possibilities, attendees said.
The growing maturity and power of large investors is still driving change in the industry. In addition to holding greater sway with terms and documents, their demands have seen investment manager models evolve as managers look to take whatever steps they can to better align their own interests with those of their investors.
Greater adoption of higher corporate governance standards continues to be a feature of the market and not only do institutional investors want at least one – and ideally two – independent directions on the board, where possible they are looking to have independent directors from different firms. While it seems that US managers are expanding their use of independent oversight in a big way, we also heard more about developments in Ireland and the UK where the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) weighted in on the independent director capacity debate, the panel said. Among other stipulations, where a director has more than 20 relationships and spends more than 2,000 hours per year working on them, that director becomes subject to review by the CBI. Considering that would mean working nine hours per day every day of the year, it sets the benchmark quite high, it was stated.
The main conference sessions included some upbeat predictions for the future, including making the case for assets to move past $4 trillion within the next five years. We’ll check on progress to that goal when we see you back in Cayman for GAIM Ops 2017.