Numbers, numbers, numbers. Us journalists can get all too obsessed with statistics. And in the early months of the new year we are bombarded by them as the major captive jurisdictions report their annual additions.
Of course, some domiciles are more ready and willing than others to publish their figures and there can be discrepancies in how captives, cell companies and Series LLCs are counted or classified.
On pages 29-31, I feel we have provided an accurate snapshot of the state of market.
Unsurprisingly, the overall trend can most simply be summarised as stagnation around Europe, consolidation within the three leading domiciles (Bermuda, Cayman Islands and Vermont) and eye-catching fi gures from the emerging onshore United States jurisdictions.
The reasons for onshore growth within the US are well known – incentive to stay onshore, greater choice of domicile and more tailored solutions for the middle market.
Few are ready to bad mouth their rival jurisdictions and openly welcome the competition for captive licences, but the odd plea for sensible and quality regulation in a bid to preserve the industry is made.
The impression given by David Provost and his team in Vermont is one of being very comfortable with their position. The state may have had another modest year, but in truth it already has most of the country’s biggest businesses utilising their captive expertise.
And, if there is a move by big businesses to vacate off shore domiciles, Vermont will be high up on the list in a jurisdiction review. After years of leading the way, it has earned the right to be choosy as to what it does and does not license.
For Bermuda and Cayman, the situation may not be so comfortable. At the time of going to press Bermuda had not provided Captive Review with its number of closures, while the Cayman Islands made a net loss of two.
Improving the regulatory framework and increasing vehicle fl exibility appears to be the off shore domiciles’ best bet in combating the US governments’ rising pressure to bring captives home. Cayman’s new Portfolio Insurance Company legislation (p15) should be a good start.
Growth within the US’s emerging domiciles has undoubtedly been largely driven by the proliferation of smaller captives making the 831(b) tax election.
As ever, the tax election is causing a strong diff erence of opinion among industry leaders. We have sought to provide a snapshot of this in our debate feature (p18) with Don Riggin and Sean King going head-to-head.
Lastly, congratulations to all the winners and nominees at the 2015 UK Captive Services Awards (p21).
I am sure all those who attended will agree the evening was a fi tting recognition of the quality work the industry completed during 2014. I would like to pay special tribute to Malcolm Cutts-Watson who picked up the award for Outstanding Contribution by an Individual.
Cutts-Watson is liked and respected by all in the industry, on both sides of the Atlantic and he received a well-deserved standing ovation at the Banking Hall in London.