Harneys disrupting the offshore funds space

Philip Graham was interviewed by Hedgeweek regarding our dedicated global FinTech practice.

Harneys global funds practice advises on all aspects of offshore investment funds, establishment, maintenance and restructuring both in distressed and planned scenarios. Harneys sees itself as a market disrupter in the offshore funds space; a law firm that always brings personality to the table with its clients.

This disruptive mindset marries well with the rising trend of another market disruption in the form of crypto strategies. Three or more years ago, Harneys took the collective decision that this could be a crucially important industry, despite its infancy at the time and something to embrace, as a forward-looking, progressive law firm. This led Harneys to develop a dedicated global FinTech practice that includes a wide number of partners in the Cayman Islands, the BVI, Vancouver and Hong Kong.

We approach the offshore legal world from a slightly different angle and try to offer clients a fundamentally different service (compared to traditional law firms) and we all jumped at the chance to be active in the crypto space,” explains Philip Graham (pictured), who heads up Harneys’ BVI Investment Funds and Regulatory team. “The crypto/blockchain arena is absolutely aligned with our core values of entrepreneurial thinking and we wanted to be a key player in a new market as it evolves and matures.

This level of focus so early on helped to position Harneys as one of the main ‘go-to’ offshore law firms for ICOs and crypto-asset funds. Having partners such as Lewis Chong, who runs the Vancouver office, gives Harneys an ideal vantage point from which to keep track of new managers as well as new product innovations in the crypto space, given his West Coast location and remit. 

With some of the bigger institutional managers also now looking into this blossoming space, I’m delighted we decided to embrace this new asset class and it has allowed us to build up an unrivalled level of expertise” adds Graham.

Unsurprisingly, crypto and ICO mandates have been the dominant part of new instructions that Harneys has received over the last year. That said, there is always a degree of caution with respect to ICOs.

As Graham confirms: “We have been involved in a number of ICOs, including the world’s largest ICO last year (at the time) which raised over USD1 billion, but we are treading enormously carefully with some fundamental checkpoints because the risk profile is still very high.” 

We absolutely look to work with token/coin issuers that are seeking to use the very highest AML/KYC standards and with more and more service providers coming into the market who can offer a high level of verification work, this is undoubtedly seeing a sophistication in the ICO market already, making them a much more feasible proposition,” says Graham. 

One reason for explaining Harneys’ willingness to embrace the new is partly down to the partners all being relatively young and of a broadly similar age.

What is great about being part of a law firm like this is that it is always open to new ideas. The progressiveness of Harneys is something that I think defines who we are and how we work. I can confidently say that our FinTech group is a market leader in the offshore space and this is standing us in good stead,” remarks Graham.

This interview was originally published by Hedgeweek.