James McEvoy of Alter Domus talks to Nicholas Pratt about the company’s authorisation to provide specialist fund administration services in Ireland.
On October 7, Alter Domus’ office in Ireland was granted authorisation by the Central Bank of Ireland (CBI) to provide fund administration services. The award of this licence makes Alter Domus the first independent, specialist administrative service provider in Ireland with a focus on private equity real estate and debt, claims the company.
The process started in 2015. Up to that point Alter Domus had been operating in the unregulated fund entities sector, helping clients to set up special purpose vehicles but, says James McEvoy, Country Executive, Ireland, it also saw the opportunities in the regulated space. Furthermore, such an approach fits with its strategy in other European jurisdictions.
“We have seen fund administration for Irish-domiciled funds as an opportunity for some time,” he adds. “We have clients that are already present in Ireland or else have it very much on their radar and there is also some crossover in terms of our existing work with SPVs, some of which may have funds affiliated to them.”
Alter Domus intends to focus on specialist funds such as private equity, real estate, debt and infrastructure and offers a full range of administration and corporate services. The firm is proud to be already servicing assets in excess of $100 billion across multiple jurisdictions. The cornerstone of its business model is its vertically integrated approach, says McEvoy.
“We work with our clients across all domiciles and across all aspects of their funds – from the investor fund vehicles and holding structure through to the local entities and property companies in multiple jurisdictions. But to deliver on our model, it is important that we have the right skills set, technology and that we have the right presence in the important domiciles.”
The uncertainty surrounding Brexit has generated more interest in Ireland among fund managers and investors but, says McEvoy, while it is too early to tell exactly what will result, there are some fundamental strengths in Ireland’s funds industry.
“The fact is that Ireland is an English-speaking, EU country in the eurozone with a highly reputable and stable legal and regulatory framework supporting Irish funds. The funds industry in Ireland employs over 13,000 professionals. Investment managers looking to access EU investors are increasingly recognising these benefits and including Ireland in their strategy.”
Ireland may have a greater reputation for servicing hedge funds but, says McEvoy, there is an expectation PE and RE funds will become more popular in Ireland.
“The introduction of the Irish Collective Asset Vehicles (ICAV) has been helpful, it has become the go-to route for specialist funds,” he says. “It would be good to see planned amendments to the limited partnerships regime come to fruition. That would be hugely positive in further attracting private equity and real estate managers to Ireland. There is a Limited Partnership structure for these types of funds in Ireland but it is not widely used in the regulated market. The amendments would align Ireland with other jurisdictions and what PE and RE managers are used to elsewhere, notably the UK and US.
“We would also like to see the introduction of professional non-credit institution depositaries. We see this as a tailored solution for the PE and RE sector which is used in other domiciles and is allowable under the AIFMD but not under local legislation in Ireland as yet.”
Ireland would also benefit from the arrival of an independent, specialist fund administrator, says McEvoy. “If Ireland wants to attract more PE and RE managers, it needs to have a more diversified provider landscape and this means that there is room for other specialist providers such as ourselves in addition to existing bank-based or hedge fund-oriented administrators in the market.”
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