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Lights, camera, action: CAIS 2019 set to be a blockbuster

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“Tech-tonic Shift: Innovation in Alternative Investments” will be the theme of the 2019 Cayman Alternative Investment Summit (CAIS), This will be the sixth year for CAIS and it promises to be the biggest yet at the Kimpton Seafire Resort & Spa on Grand Cayman, owned by Dart Enterprises, the host sponsor for CAIS. 

Throughout the event, which takes place on 68 February, 2019, the focus will be on innovation and disruption, featuring an array of panel discussions around topics such as ESG and impact investing, blockchain technology, robotics and AI, geopolitical disruptions and alternative data, just to name a few. 

‘Anchoring to a Digital Future’ will underpin Day One’s agenda, with ‘Challenges & Opportunities: Populism and Globalisation’ providing the focal point for Day Two. 

“As with previous CAIS events, our editorial board has been looking closely at what has been impacting the alternatives industry over the last 12 months, and anticipating the effects of some of those changes in the coming months and years,” comments Chris Duggan (pictured), Director of CAIS and VP of Business Development at Dart Enterprises. “Technology and innovation, unsurprisingly, is going to be at the forefront of disruption and will require companies to adapt to remain competitive in a fast-changing marketplace.” 

“That was the rationale for the ‘tech-tonic shift’ theme for CAIS 2019. We wanted to keep ideas fresh and new and we feel this theme will allow us to effectively engage with delegates and sponsors.”

The event is always well attended by a large congregation of institutional investors but for CAIS 2019, a concerted effort is being taken to attract more family offices, with Duggan confirming he expects a large number of family offices and institutional investors to attend.

“We think CAIS 2019 will be our biggest event yet, both in terms of delegate numbers and in terms of net wealth. The aim is to showcase Cayman as a domicile, not just for alternative investment funds but also for global family offices,” says Duggan.

Indeed, the Cayman Islands are ranked as the fifth largest financial services hub in the world, with an estimated USD1.5 trillion in annual booked assets. It is also the second largest offshore domicile in the world, with 146 banks, 147 trust companies and over 11,000 regulated funds.

Anthony Cowell, a partner at KPMG who also holds the editorial chair for CAIS, said it is imperative to garner feedback from delegates after each event to keep content engaging, timely and pertinent. 

“There is no doubt that technology innovation permeates the fabric of our professional and personal lives. The ‘tech-tonic shift’ theme for CAIS 2019 will feature expert insights from specialists in the field of cryptocurrency, blockchain, artificial intelligence and robotics.” 

“No one knows what the job market will look like in 40 or 50 years, but if certain jobs do disappear it will be harder for many workers to become re-skilled if automation becomes the norm. There aren’t enough people speaking about the impact of technology on the jobs market, and it’s important to have a frank discussion on what the future might look like – and what the challenges will be in response to the rise in AI and robotics,” explains Cowell. 

Cowell explained that there will also be a heightened discussion around the digitalisation of assets. “A whole new ‘cryptocosm’ is emerging and we are on the brink of the institutionalisation of digital assets. Delegates will be able to enjoy some great panel discussions around the blockchain revolution, which I believe to be the single most important innovation to have happened in my lifetime, and what this revolution might mean for allocators, and for the alternatives industry in general.”

Another important theme at the event will be the challenges and opportunities that arise from populism and globalisation. 

Ian Bremmer, President and Founder of Eurasia Group, a leading political risk and research group, will share his views on this and is one of a number of high-profile speakers. Other speakers include:

  • Daniel D’Aniello, Co-Founder of the Carlyle Group; 
  • Michelle McCloskey, President of Americas at Man Group;
  • Mark Foster, a senior VP at IBM; 
  • Bettina Warburg, Co-Founder, Animal Ventures, which focuses on technology companies operating in verticals such as Blockchain, Digital Platforms, Artificial and Augmented Intelligence; 
  • Michael Weinberg, CIO of New York-based MOV37, which focuses on investing in the next generation of augmented learning investment strategies;
  • Asha Mehta, Director of Responsible Investing at Acadian Asset Management; and
  • Andrew Farnum, Director of the Gates Foundation’s Strategic Investment Fund

“We will also be discussing ESG and impact,” adds Cowell. “The millennial generation is plugged in like no other generation before them and they want ESG-related products; so the whole rise of ESG investing across the world is going to be a continued area of focus throughout the event.”

In May 2018, CAIS collaborated with AIMA to release the first-ever research report looking at the rise of responsible investment within the hedge fund industry, titled “From Niche to Mainstream.” The report found that about 40 per cent of hedge fund managers are currently investing using responsible investment principles, and more than 50 per cent reported an increased demand in responsible investment from investors.

“ESG and impact specialists from both asset managers and asset owners will dive deeper into these numbers and explore the role that the alternative investment industry can play in catalysing the responsible investment movement,” said Cowell.

A key part of this movement is promoting gender diversity in both the makeup of the investment teams and in how these teams think about investing. Academic research has consistently shown that gender-lens investing — which integrates gender-based factors — can deliver superior risk-adjusted returns.

The team behind CAIS is also taking a gender lens to how they think about selecting speakers. CAIS 2019 will feature the highest percentage of women speakers in the event’s history, which the organisers hope will spark more compelling conversations.

“We’ve made a conscious effort over the last few years to provide a platform for some of the leading women in the world and I’m delighted that we were able to secure such a diverse speaker lineup,” confirms Cowell.

“A key part of CAIS 2019 is celebrating women in the alternatives industry and, given the scale of the conference, women in global business more generally. It’s a responsibility for all firms to offer an equal platform and that is what we intend to continue doing,” says Duggan.

Registration for CAIS 2019 is now open. For more information, please click here:

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