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Fiona Le Poidevin, Guernsey Finance

Guernsey now accepting AIFMD applications

Guernsey is now accepting applications under new domestic AIFMD marketing rules and therefore it is a case of ‘business as usual’ for Guernsey’s investment fund community, writes Fiona Le Poidevin (pictured), Chief Executive of Guernsey Finance – the promotional agency for the Island’s finance industry.

On 7 June 2013 the Guernsey Financial Services Commission (GFSC) issued domestic Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive (AIFMD) marketing rules, together with a notification form and confirmed they are able to accept applications prior to 22 July 2013.

The GFSC has also provided a set of frequently asked questions (FAQs) which will be updated as the EU-wide implementation of AIFMD unfolds. 

Amending its domestic rules and the provision of guidance signals that Guernsey is well advanced in being able to continue to offer access to EU markets in view of the AIFMD coming into force on 22 July this year.

This most recent development follows approval from the European Securities and Markets Authority (ESMA) of the bilateral agreements to be signed which will create a formal framework of cooperation on matters of mutual interest between the GFSC and the equivalent bodies in the EU Member States, Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway.

By virtue of not being in the EU, Guernsey managers strictly do not need to comply with the AIFMD and the main route to the EU market will continue to be under National Private Placement (NPP). However, post 22 July 2013, in order to continue under this route, AIFMD imposes certain regulatory obligations, i.e. the requirements of Articles 42 and 43, which must be fulfilled. Therefore, the forms are for Guernsey-based managers to apply to the GFSC – essentially a notification process – outlining in which EU (and wider EEA) countries they will market each fund. 

I am extremely pleased that the rules have been released on the Commission’s website along with the FAQs, well ahead of the July implementation date. Together with the ESMA announcement, the approval of Guernsey’s domestic marketing rules demonstrates that Guernsey is well prepared for 22 July, when AIFMD goes live across Europe. Indeed, this gives certainty to those currently using or considering using Guernsey as a fund domicile, in terms of the Island’s approach to the Directive.

Guernsey will offer a dual regime. We will have an AIFMD offering for those EU investors and managers who need or choose to take this route and at the same time maintain our existing regime for those who fall outside the scope of AIFMD or are able to take advantage of NPP regimes. This reflects the fact that we always strive to provide the best solutions for the truly global client base of the Guernsey investment fund industry.

This readiness for the Directive is reflected in Guernsey’s practical implementation of the rules. Of particular note with regard to depositary functions, the GFSC’s FAQs state that there are no changes to the paperwork to apply for either a new licence or an extended licence.

The momentum continues as a consultation is expected shortly on the full AIFMD equivalent opt-in rules which Guernsey will introduce in due course. These opt-in rules may allow bilateral marketing of an Alternative Investment Fund (AIF) product to certain EU Member States prior to the implementation of a third country passport regime.

The European Commission is expected to implement the full passporting regime for non-EU managers of alternative funds in July 2015. The Directive provides the framework to establish the passporting regime but until this is implemented and operating effectively Guernsey Alternative Investment Fund Managers (AIFMs) will continue to market under NPP subject to any additional regulatory reporting under the domestic rules of each Member State.

Neale Jehan, Executive Director at KPMG and Chairman of the Guernsey Investment Fund Association (GIFA) Technical Committee, who has been spearheading the industry’s response to the Directive on the Island, commented: “Having the marketing rules in place well ahead of the 22 July implementation date for AIFMD gives our clients certainty and shows that we are keeping pace with developments as they unfold. The FAQs are a particularly helpful tool and a source of additional information for those wanting to know more about Guernsey’s AIFMD regime and we welcome suggestions for additional questions that can be clarified over the coming months.

“The clarity of our marketing rules and the announcement by the GFSC that they are ready to receive applications from managers and depositaries alike prior to 22 July demonstrates once again our leading position in the global funds industry and as a result Guernsey will continue to be ideally placed alongside Europe well into the future.”

Guernsey intends to fully engage with the consultations on the third country passporting regime to be implemented by Europe, to ensure that Guernsey AIFMs will be ideally placed to take advantage of the new benefits of being able to market AIFs on a pan-European basis with a single authorisation, as the regime is currently envisaged to work.

The documents can be accessed on the GFSC website

Latest figures from the GFSC show that the net asset value of investment funds under management and administration in Guernsey reached £296.5 billion at the end of March 2013 – up £19.7 billion (7.1%) in the first quarter of the year. This represents an increase of £26.4 billion (9.8%) year on year, a rise of £32.8 billion (12.4%) on the same time two years ago and an increase of £99.1 billion (50.2%) since the end of March 2010.

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