Best Offshore Regulatory Advisory Firm – DMS Offshore Group
DMS Offshore Group's core business is providing offshore independent directors. Whilst the firm offers the largest independent directorship service in the Cayman Islands, in recent times it has started to provide New York-based independent directors.
"The backgrounds of those individuals are somewhat different and complementary to the already strong Directors in Cayman," says John D'Agostino (pictured), Managing Director of North and South Americas. "DMS now offers a wider range of Director expertise including buyside and investor LP experience – from directly serving as a COO of large hedge funds to the Operational Due Diligence leads at major global banks."
Managers that appoint DMS can benefit from an a la carte selection, appointing directors with a range of complimentary skills and expertise. As the industry evolves, and with it the role of the independent director, D'Agostino says, "we strive to continually offer clients more options."
"We are the largest fund governance firm in the world and we are growing our team commensurate with the opportunity set."
The second core business line is the firm's AIFM platform capabilities based in Dublin and Luxembourg. The launch rate of funds on the platform has accelerated this year to the point where the platform now has >40 funds that have either launched or are preparing to launch.
"The platform model makes a lot of sense to managers. We are seeing many different types of managers; large to mid-sized managers, disparate asset classes and strategies, UCITS and AIFs being represented. It's a wide and deep client and product mix," confirms D'Agostino, adding that the majority of managers have chosen Ireland as their preferred domicile so far.
The third line of business at DMS Offshore Group is risk reporting, which extends to include FATCA. A dedicated team in Dublin provides comprehensive risk management services. These include the risk oversight function of funds on the platform as well as producing regulatory risk reports such as Annex IV, Form-PF and CPO-PQR.
As if FATCA wasn't a big enough ordeal for managers, many now face themselves having to comply with UK FATCA. Then, on 1st January 2016, managers have the unenviable task of facing a new global tax reporting rule called the Common Reporting Standard developed by the OECD, which more than 50 countries have already signed up to.
"The Common Reporting Standard is going to become a major development for fund managers. It's part of the industry's constantly evolving global tax oversight. CRS will be overwhelming for some managers, precisely because tax is something they've traditionally outsourced. Many have only just gotten over the demands of US FATCA, and there is now an understandable sense of confusion and exhaustion," says D'Agostino.
Indeed, one of the ways that DMS Offshore Group has lifted the burden on managers with respect to FATCA is to offer a FATCA Responsible Officer solution.
"Unlike risk reporting, where you will typically have one person within the firm who is on top of all the information and who has a deep understanding of the fund's risk characteristics, that's not necessarily the case with tax. As a result, we've been appointed as the FRO to hundreds of clients over the last 12 months," confirms D'Agostino.
On winning this year's award, D'Agostino says: "We've done a good job of responding to the needs of the market but we have to keep innovating and pushing forward."