BVI Finance: ‘A suite of services for the entire corporate and blood family’
Simon Gray outlines the BVI's diverse range of funds, innovative trust structures, and of course its landmark business companies
At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, BVI Finance began running its events online, in a series of programmes it called ‘Virtually Together, Virtually Everywhere.’ On the occasion of his first physical event since the world’s first lockdown, at AFSIC Investing in Africa, BVI Finance’s Simon Gray describes the key themes explored through its events: including a private investment fund regime, a renewed purpose for its incubator fund, and and innovating in the digital space with smart contracts.
You can also watch the first half of this conversation with Simon Gray, where he discusses BVI’s role in fostering entrepreneurship around the world.
World Finance: Now you’re here in London to take part in AFSIC Investing In Africa – what are your hopes for this event?
Simon Gray: Well it’s great to be back physically; I mean we’ve been very big sponsors of AFSIC for many many years, I think over 10. And it’s very much to continue our support – not just for that important investment opportunity, but the African continent.
We have very strong historic links there, and we see Africa as an important location, not just for our business structures; our common law system provides certainty, our robust regulatory framework provides reassurance. So we’re seeing exponential growth and opportunity there, and we’re glad we can do our bit to assist.
One thing we’ve been doing as a consequence of COVID-19 is moving more into the virtual field. So we have an initiative called Virtually Together, Virtually Everywhere; recently we did an event for southern Africa, we did one for west Africa, we’re doing one for eastern Africa in the next six weeks. So that focus is very much going to continue.
World Finance: Tell me more about the virtually together, virtually everywhere, events. What were the key themes coming out of them?
Simon Gray: We try to really build on what we’ve got good experience of. So that is not just in the field of business companies, but also the diverse range of funds that we offer. As well as our innovative trust structures.
And if you look at our funds, in 2020 we introduced a private investment fund regime – very much a closed end fund focus, and it really consolidated a lot of existing legislation together. And the real focus has been on private equity and venture capital. So that’s doing great guns, we’re very pleased with that result.
We’re perhaps even more pleased with the incubator fund – that was created back in 2015, at that point really with a focus on the hedge fund industry. What we’ve discovered is that it’s proving as successful – if not moreso – with the world of digital and crypto funds. And that’s largely due to the very benign regulatory structure which keeps the costs down. The speed with which funds can be established and operate. And I think the word incubator says it all: it helps generate life and create a robust structure for the future.
And if I may just develop that in the trusts field. What we’ve also found is that many successful entrepreneurs then capitalise on using our trust structures, which helps with the succession planning for future generations.
So we try and offer a suite of different products and services for the entire corporate and blood family.
World Finance: You’ve touched on a few of these examples so far, I’m sure, but how would you say the BVI is driving innovation?
Simon Gray: We try to be as flexible, as innovative, as possible. And I think a good example of that is our focus on digital assets and working groups. We consult widely with the industry, we liaise closely with the regulator to ensure that whatever rules they have planned are fit for purpose and can work commercially.
And perhaps the best example with the digital space is smart contracts. The decentralised autonomous organisations, or limited liability autonomous organisations – both of those really work very well with the LLC construct, so that’s something that we’re pushing.
World Finance: Simon, thank you very much.
Simon Gray: Thank you very much, Paul.