As part of their Education Series, 100 Women in Finance presented Session #769 - Debunking the Myths on Cryptocurrencies - on October 12th at the George Town Yacht Club in Grand Cayman which was attended by approximately 135 members and guests. As of July 2017, there were more than 900 cryptocurrencies available and this continues to grow. This event focused on what service providers needed to know from an academic, auditing and US legal counsel perspective, in the wake of this global phenomenon.
The event was sponsored by local law firms Jacob Law and Etienne Blake, the Cayman Islands chapter of the Chartered Alternative Investment Analysts (CAIA), audit firm Rankin Berkower, administrator Trident Trust and the CFA Society of the Cayman Islands.
Jacob Law is a boutique corporate and commercial law firm with a focus on alternative investment and over twenty years collective experience in the legal, corporate administration, fund administration and the regulatory space, advising local and international clients and helping them enhance their global footprint at a palatable cost.
Rankin Berkower (Cayman) Ltd. / Berkower LLC provide auditing, tax preparation and consulting services to nearly 450 hedge and private equity funds throughout the world which are invested in a wide array of financial instruments.
CAIA is the global authority in alternative investment education best known for the CAIA Charter, an internationally recognized finance credential and the gateway to a network of more than 9,000 alternative investment leaders in almost 90 countries.
Etienne Blake is a full service Cayman law firm with a focus on corporate finance and a proven track record and the ability to combine hands-on knowledge of the local landscape with an in-depth understanding of the global corporate finance market. The firm advises a range of international clients involved in both the cryptocurrency and blockchain industries on a variety of matters including investment funds, initial token/coin offerings and general corporate matters.
Trident Trust is a leading independent corporate, fiduciary and fund administrator employing nearly 800 staff across Africa, the Americas, Asia, the Caribbean, Europe and the Middle East. The Trident Cayman and Atlanta offices currently provide administration services to hedge and private equity funds investing in cryptocurrencies.
(Left to right) Paul Parker (Etienne Blake), Eileen Overbaugh (Lowenstein Sandler), Jeffrey Goddard (CAIA Cayman Islands), Desiree Jacob (Jacob Law), Philip Rankin (Rankin Berkower (Cayman) Ltd.), Laura Montoya (Trident Trust) Prof. Rebecca Spang (Indiana University), Hon. Tara River (Minister of Financial Services), and Ashok Goyal (Berkower LLC)
“The fact that China appears to be looking at issuing licenses for certain cryptocurrency exchanges in order to permit bitcoin trading does suggest to me that there is a place in our modern economies for Cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology.” -Paul Parker
CFA Society Cayman Islands is the local member society of the CFA Institute, the global association of investment professionals that sets the standard for professional excellence and credentials which has made its mission to promote ethical behavior, professional excellence and educational development for investment professionals in the Cayman Islands.
Desiree Jacob, founder of Jacob Law, began the evening by greeting the guests including the Honorable Tara Rivers, Minister of Financial Services, and the Co-chairs of the Cayman Islands 100 Women in Finance, Lise Barile and Monette Windsor, and introduced Jeffrey Goddard of CAIA Cayman Islands. Mr. Goddard noted that part of CAIA’s mission is providing its members, candidates and other industry practitioners in the Cayman Islands access to first class educational events and networking opportunities. He provided an overview of the CAIA charter before introducing the panelists: Professor Rebecca Spang from Indiana University in Bloomington, Eileen Overbaugh, Counselor at the Lowenstein Sandler LLP law firm in New York, Ashok Goyal, Senior Audit Manager from Berkower LLC in New Jersey and the moderator, Laura Montoya, Senior Project Manager from Trident Trust in Cayman.
The panel discussion began with the evolution of the asset class from Professor Spang who teaches the History of Money and directs the Liberal Arts and Management program at Indiana University. She has recently written about money’s future for the Financial Times and is the author of the prize winning book, “Stuff and Money in the Time of the French Revolution”. Professor Spang emphasized that all forms of money (metal, paper, digital, or crypto) require both material support and symbolic significance. She further noted that crypto-currencies and blockchain technology are energy intensive.
Eileen Overbaugh, who advises funds and pooled investment vehicles on regulatory and compliance issues, noted that US regulators have indicated that certain transactions will be governed according to regulations affecting the marketing and offering of securities. According to Ms. Overbaugh, the industry should be prepared for regulations that will be coming down the pipeline in the near future.
Over 135 attendees engaged in the panel discussion
Honorable Minister Tara Rivers and Jeffrey Goddard
Ashok Goyal, who works closely with Fund Managers providing audit services to onshore and offshore funds which invest in equities, options, futures as well as cryptocurrency, continued in response to questions regarding valuations and audit challenges, determining that IT professionals will need to be able to access cryptocurrency wallets in order to ensure all assets can be counted and valued.
Paul Parker from Etienne Blake closed the evening by thanking all participants, guests, and the membership of 100 Women in Finance for their participation. Mr. Parker noted that the birth of the decentralized currency of Bitcoin and blockchain technology in 2009, has been viewed by many commentators as possibly the most important invention of the 21st century. He stated that these technologies would seem to be here to stay, in some shape or form, and that we could either take the easy route and ignore them or find a way to locate the opportunities that these new products and technologies would bring with them. The risks that these currencies pose still needs to be addressed by all aspects of industry and it is to be hoped that all in the finance industry can approach the subject with a degree of confidence and some serious thought.
The educational event was followed by a networking session for those in attendance.
Professor Rebecca Spang