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CAIS 2018 to explore transformative impact of technology on alternative investment industry

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Next February will be the fifth instalment of the Cayman Alternative Investment Summit (CAIS), hosted by Dart Enterprises at the stunning Kimpton Seafire Resort & Spa on Grand Cayman. 

The theme of CAIS 2018 is the impact of technology on the industry: “Wired: The Rise of Alternative Investments in a Digital Age.”

“Each year, we want to create a theme that is relevant to the external influences facing the alternative funds industry and ensure that all the associated speakers, panels, and demonstrations that we arrange, are appropriate,” remarks Chris Duggan, Director of CAIS and VP of Community Development at Dart Enterprises, in a conversation with Hedgeweek. 

The topic is highly pertinent. Technology is not only impacting the investment space, it is fundamentally changing the financial services industry as a whole. 

“These changes bring significant challenges but also a multitude of opportunities,” says Duggan. “The digital theme that we’ve come up with will largely take a two-pronged approach. Firstly, it will address the challenges that the industry might face as technology advances, and secondly, it will identify how best to take advantage of the opportunities that are likely to appear in the market.”

CAIS 2018 will cover an array of issues and topics that include: “Rise of Quants: The New Kings of Wall Street,” “Harnessing the Transformational Power of Technology & Machine Learning,” “The Blockchain Revolution and its Transformative Impact” and “Globalisation in Retreat: Leading the Industry into a Digital Future”.

Special guest speakers include:

  • Jeremy Bailenson – founding director of Stanford University’s Virtual Human Interaction Lab and author of the upcoming book “Experience on Demand”
  • Sophia – a humanoid robot created using breakthrough robotics and artificial intelligence technologies developed by Hanson Robotics
  • Maurice Conti – designer, futurist, innovator and Chief Innovation Officer at Telefónica Alpha, Europe’s first moonshot factory

“We will have VR demonstrations to link back to how technology is changing the industry. It will be quite an immersive, interactive experience compared to previous CAIS events,” says Duggan.

The pace of change as disruptive technology gets adopted by the financial industry is similar to Moore’s Law. Every year, the power and array of applications seems to double, as financial organisations of all shapes and sizes seek out new ways to automate and re-engineer their business models. 

Firms are investing heavily in artificial intelligence, blockchain applications and other digital technology.

Indeed, at a recent New York City satellite event hosted by CAIS, a straw poll of attendees found that 83 per cent of firms would increase spending on data, technology or analytics in 2018. Moreover, 30 per cent said that cybersecurity was the top global threat for 2018. As cyber attacks like Wannacry become increasingly sophisticated, global fund managers need to keep on top of technology and cybersecurity trends to uphold their reputations. 

Nearly a third of those who were surveyed back in February at CAIS 2017 said that they believed artificial intelligence would be the most disruptive technology in 2017. Looking ahead, 43 per cent of industry experts believe blockchain is the technology most likely to disrupt economies over the next five years, surpassing artificial intelligence (35 per cent), self-driving cars (18 per cent) and robotics (4 per cent).

As well as industry and technology experts, CAIS 2018 will continue the tradition of inviting non-industry marquee names to share their experiences with the audience, which Duggan expects to exceed 500 people. The biggest draw is Hollywood actor and A-list celebrity, Will Smith, who will entertain the room at the end of Day 1. 

Two other prominent names include Danica Patrick, the most successful woman in the history of American stock car racing and the only woman to win an IndyCar Series race, and Robert O’Neill, a highly decorated former Navy SEAL. 

Danica will talk about her experiences of competing in a male-dominated sport, while Robert – who two years ago delivered a captivating speech that brought a standing ovation – will describe the mentality needed to succeed in a career where failure is not an option.

“We want to consider real issues facing the world on a daily basis so having non-industry speakers to provide different perspectives is really important to the event,” stresses Duggan.

“With respect to Danica, I don’t think there’s a better example of a female competing in a male-dominated industry. For her to come in and talk about how she has been so successful in that world will, I think, be highly pertinent. She is a great role model for so many women.”

Given the nature of the theme, CAIS 2018 is going to be a lot more interactive. Rather than traditional paper agendas, delegates will have access to apps on their smart phones, and within the venue the stage design will facilitate a digital experience for the audience. 

The objective of every CAIS event is to talk about the issues in a wider context. This is not an event where people ‘talk shop’. People like Maurice and Jeremy will bring a much wider perspective on how digital technology is shaping our world. Like Davos is to the banking industry, CAIS aims to educate its delegates, encourage critical thinking, deliver lively debate, and generate tangible insights that people can apply to their own businesses. 

“Among the 500-plus delegates that come to CAIS, everyone is looking for something different. We can’t be all things to all people but we try to keep it as broad as possible to ensure people get as much out of the event as possible. Bringing in non-industry speakers like Jeremy Bailenson, who can link their expertise to the industry at a high level, is beneficial as it often leads to insights and new ideas; especially with respect to how artificial intelligence and machine learning can impact the industry,” says Duggan.

He finishes by saying that CAIS 2018 aims to provide a toolbox to those who attend. 

“We want to be industry changers, and at the cutting edge of driving the alternatives industry forward. If thoughts and ideas can be shared and discussed at CAIS, and help transform the industry in a positive way…that’s ultimately what we’re looking to do,” concludes Duggan.

Registration for CAIS 2018 is now live at with early bird prices available until 31 December, 2017. 


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