When it comes to doing business in a new jurisdiction, someone who has just gone through the process of opening a new office can offer the best insights. In that context, Centaur Fund Services, which provides fund administration services to some of the world's largest institutions, is perfectly placed.
Centaur was established in Dublin in 2009 by three founding partners: Eric Bertrand (pictured), Ronan Daly and Karen Malone. All three had formerly worked in Bermuda and as senior managers within Hemisphere Management, Bisys Hedge Fund Services and Citi Hedge Fund Services between 1997 and 2009.
The recently opened Bermuda office, says Bertrand, arose out of a desire from some of its North American clients to establish a nearby offshore presence. Centaur now has companies in Bermuda, Cayman, London and New York.
"We felt Bermuda was a return home given our time spent and network of contacts on the island. It was the obvious choice. At that point we reached out to the Bermuda Business Development Agency (BDA) and they were very helpful in walking us through the process of setting up the office – recommending service providers and so on," explains Bertrand. That was in late 2015.
"We then liaised with the Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA) to get our licence approved and again, that was a positive experience. We received approval at the end of June 2016," confirms Bertrand.
While going through the registration process with the BMA, Centaur started setting up the business operations, working with various IT providers, payroll providers and consultants to source talent. Indeed, the BDA provided a list of people for Centaur to contact, with Bertrand confirming that the Ministry of Economic Development proved extremely helpful in providing guidance for employing staff and getting the appropriate work permits in place.
"Another factor in selecting Bermuda, besides our personal preference is its location. Having close proximity to the East Coast of North America was critical," says Bertrand.
Indeed, by only being four hours behind Ireland, Centaur's operations team in Dublin can finish on time in full knowledge that their colleagues in Bermuda will be able to pick up the baton to support Centaur's North American clients.
"When I returned to Bermuda in 2015 there was a big change compared to when I was last there in 2009," reflects Bertrand. "It was clearly open for business. There was not one meeting where I didn't feel upbeat and excited about getting things done. From the BDA, the BMA, and all the service providers I met, the whole experience felt very dynamic."
Marc Weaver, a veteran in the industry, with extensive experience in traditional hedge funds, private equity and insurance-linked securities (ILS), serves as the Chief Operating Officer in the Bermuda office.
"We built a group in Dublin to support Marc and we are now in the process of adding more resources to the office in Bermuda. We expect to add three to five people over the coming months," says Bertrand, who sees the Bermuda office as a potential growth driver for the group over the coming years.
"The ILS industry is also an interesting sector and an area of significant growth for Bermuda. We are currently recruiting additional expertise to support this asset class. We have experienced significant growth in private equity; something we will be pushing in 2017," says Bertrand.