Ace Fund Services Inc. offers fund administration services in the BVI and is part of the Patton Group. The group has been active in the British Virgin Islands since the early 1990s and offers corporate, trust and legal services. Two years ago, in response to growing demand for fund services from its existing clientele, the group launched ACE in the BVI.
While 2008 was a difficult year for the fund industry in the BVI and worldwide, it has not deflected the jurisdiction from its steady growth course. In turn, Ace’s long-term commitment to the BVI is an important factor in its relationship with the group’s existing clientele and in its development of new business as the sector rebounds.
The period in which Ace has been building up its infrastructure has seen considerable changes in the industry, especially in 2008, which saw extensive restructuring of funds in response to the adverse market environment and caution becoming the watchword among existing and prospective managers.
We took our time to establish solid foundations for the business as well as to ensure that our services met the changing demands of fund managers and of their ultimate investors. Building up the company’s activities from scratch has enabled Ace to fine-tune its approach to the new environment that is emerging following the global financial crisis.
This watchful approach is now starting to pay dividends with an upsurge in new business activity throughout the BVI toward the end of last year. With optimism renewed among managers and investors, long-delayed fund projects are being readied for launch and new managers are taking the plunge to enter the market. The introduction of the long-awaited Securities and Investment Business Act can only intensify that trend by equipping the BVI with modern legislation tailored to the industry’s new requirements.
One important change is that administrators must now be ready to provide more frequent reporting of NAVs and investment information than in the past, and they are being called on to make shareholders’ access to information easier. At the same time, the crisis has accelerated the trend among managers to use independent service providers rather than carrying out administration in-house.
As a fully-licensed BVI service provider, Ace is able to offer its clients a convenient one-stop shop with a wide range of administration functions including shareholder servicing, capital introduction, compliance monitoring and NAV calculation. This is an advantage especially for the start-up fund businesses to which the BVI is particularly attractive.
In addition to the group’s international network of offices throughout the world, the business works with a range of other service providers including custodians, brokers, banks, legal advisers and auditors, and has close ties with other local industry members, providing clients with easy access also to those services that should be delivered independently from the administrator.
Building a long-term partnership is central to Ace’s approach to client relationships, irrespective of the size of the funds involved. Unlike a number of other administrators, which won’t accept new fund clients below a certain minimum size, the company deals with vehicles ranging from incubator to well-established funds.
The key is developing a partnership in which we see the potential for the manager to grow and for Ace to grow alongside them – and in which the manager also views the administrator as a long-term partner that will not simply provide an agreed set of services but will help them to achieve their goals.
Mara Alido Spencer is managing director of Ace Fund Services (BVI)