Last month, the BVI launched the incubator fund and the approved fund. These fast and low-cost options for managers wanting to set up a regulated fund are a great addition to the BVI funds industry. It is not surprising that everyone is talking about them. If you have missed this, have a read of my last post.
It is taking the internet a bit of time to catch up with the developments in the BVI and I have noticed that much of the general information available on BVI funds is out of date.
For anyone thinking of establishing a new fund in the BVI I have set out a brief guide to each of the BVI fund products below. I try to limit the use of acronyms but you will need to know that the funds industry in the BVI is governed by the Securities and Investment Business Act (SIBA) and regulated by the Financial Services Commission (FSC).
An incubator fund will be restricted to having a maximum of 20 investors, each investing no less than $20,000, and a cap on assets under management of the fund of $20,000,000. The incubator fund is aimed at the start-up manager looking to launch quickly (approval is given within two days of submitting a complete application) with low cost, minimal regulatory hurdles and no mandatory functionaries. It can operate as an incubator fund for up to three years. At that point, if the fund has proved to be viable, it will need to convert to a private, professional or approved fund. Alternatively, it can wind up its operations.
Today is the kind of day that we offshore funds lawyers get really excited about. Today the BVI has launched two new fund products: the incubator fund and approved fund. The legislation creating these products and which is now in force is the Securities and Investment Business (Incubator and Approved Funds) Regulations 2015.
The new products are specifically targeted at smaller and emerging managers and provide them with the option of a lightly regulated and cost-effective open ended fund structure. It is an offering that we have been working with the government and other funds professionals in the jurisdiction to develop for a number of months and which we feel very strongly will be an excellent addition to the BVI’s funds industry.
Since the announcement of the upcoming launch of these new products, we and our colleagues in other offices have been inundated with enquiries from around the world. This is fantastic news although, given that no similar regulated products are being offered in any other long established and well respected funds jurisdiction, not at all surprising.
In anticipation of strong demand for these products, we have been putting together appropriate legal fees packages for launching and servicing these funds. A brief description of the products is set out below.
For many managers, having a fund which is regulated and subject to overreaching powers of a regulator (whether the British Virgin Islands Financial Services Commission (FSC) or The Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA)) can be advantageous or essential when attracting investors. On the other hand, a manager seeking to establish a track record whose investors comprise only friends and family, may see advantages in having an unregulated fund, without any of the ongoing obligations that would apply if it were regulated.
Whichever camp you fall into, you will want to know how to structure your fund to ensure the appropriate level of regulation for your purposes. Continue reading