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The Cayman Islands as a Captive Domicile: An Introduction

Cayman Flag Sky - SF feature
December 05, 2018

From the Atlas Insurance Management Team
Atlas Insurance Management Limited

The first thing you're aware of is the size.

Moving from Dublin to the Cayman Islands, descending permanently from the clouds to an island a mere 22 miles in length, comes as both a refreshing release and a dose of reality. After all, it's not every day one is able to exercise what remains a dream for many in the business world; namely, the opportunity to live in a Caribbean paradise. And yet, months after arrival, you realize both the benefits of a more relaxed style of life as well as the challenges inherent in transposing one's life to an unfamiliar place and those peculiar to the Caymans.

The Cayman Islands have striven mightily to become a center of international business more representative of our globalized age. While actually encompassing three islands, the country is often defined by Grand Cayman, the largest of the islands and home of the capital, George Town. Because of its British heritage and its proximity to the United States, the country shows cultural influences from both.

For a newcomer, the most important challenges are the initial ones.

In the Beginning

The most vital thing that takes getting used to immediately upon moving here is simply connecting with the essentials you need to get life up and running, so to speak. All the retail resources are here, but the local businesses do not have the same accessible online presence as what you're used to, so there are things you'll have to do in-person. This can take some patience, because, while the people are extremely friendly, the government perspective is a bit like governments everywhere in that you'll have to get in line and wait.

Losing a little urgency is small compensation for moving from the often wet and chilly climate of Ireland to the tropics. The more relaxed pace of life is palpable here, not to mention the fact that the commuting time is about half of what it can be in Dublin. Because of the pace, you get to know people very quickly in the Caymans.

For Irish expats, even connecting with Irish culture is easier than anticipated. There are a large number of Irish people already on the island, and Gaelic football even has a large following in the Caymans, with a half-dozen men's teams and four women's teams. The attitude of the locals is a very welcoming one.

Getting Down to Business

The Cayman Islands is a high-growth business environment, not just for captive insurance but for the whole universe of financial services including large insurers. Because of the vast increase in insurers, all the ancillary services one needs are already present here in quantity and quality, meaning many experienced professional service providers live on the island. There are lots of other islands where you may find yourself having to offshore some of the services required. Not in the Caymans. Lawyers, accountants, auditors, regulators—all these and more are available with the sophistication and experience you require.

One of the factors that make the Caymans a desirable international business venue is the stability of the government. The Caymans have been probusiness for a long time with infrequent changes to their legislation, mostly to modernize and reflect positive probusiness choices, compared to the United States, which has frequent changes in individual state captive insurance legislation due to frequent changing election policies. It's a very probusiness environment, so, when you’re starting a business in the Caymans, you are able to be reasonably certain of your expectations.

The Cayman Islands are the second-largest captive insurance jurisdiction in the world. The principal regulator is the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority, and the local regulatory environment comes with a strong learning curve. Cayman law and the local processes are different, but there is less red tape than there is coming from a place like the European Union, which is reflective of the Caymans' probusiness policies.

Room for Growth

While it may seem counterintuitive, the more relaxed working environment of the Caymans can have an accelerating career effect. Being in the Caymans presents many opportunities for career and professional growth. There are more ways to take responsibility, such as presenting the financial statements at board meetings, developing presentation skills, and networking with a vibrant international business community. These opportunities would not have been as prevalent in a job in the big city.

And there is always the spectacular beauty and sporting opportunities of the island lifestyle, once the business day is done. Those 22 miles of sand-rimmed greenery that seemed so small from the airplane window just might not be so limiting, after all.

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