DMS Offshore Investment Services (‘DMS’) was established in the Cayman Islands by Don Seymour in 2000. Over the past 14 years it has grown into one of the industry’s leading fund governance firms with over 200 people. “It’s been a 14-year overnight success,” says Seymour (pictured) with tongue firmly in cheek.
Prior to establishing DMS, Seymour was the chief regulator of hedge funds at the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA). It was there that Seymour noticed that many fund directors didn’t view themselves as being in the risk management business.
“The mission of DMS was to realise the fact that directors are indeed in the risk management business and that they needed an effective framework to manage risk. That led me to establishing the professional firm model for fund governance that is DMS today,” says Seymour.
One of the main features that sets DMS apart from its competitors is that back in 2004 the firm decided to adopt the four pillars of investor protection and fund governance standards used by the SEC.
“We integrated those standards into our governance practices and they form a core part of the DMS philosophy,” says Seymour.
What is unique about DMS is the way it synthesises people with technology. Their approach is not merely to attend board of director meetings for the funds they sit on. Rather, it is a continuous process of checks and balances.
“Every director at DMS is assisted by a team of hedge fund professionals, all wrapped around sophisticated proprietary technology and we really think that amplifies our approach to fund governance. Each governance transaction is reviewed three times; firstly by the associate, then the associate director and finally by the directors themselves. This enables us to be highly accurate and also very fast. As a service provider you need to move at the speed of the market.”
From a technology perspective, DMS is able to bring much needed transparency to investors via its DMS Independent Director Reports and DMS Fund Governance Transparency Reports, which investors can access on demand.
“Transparency is the new normal and reporting on this is essential today for investors. These reports have become invaluable tools to investors who use them to get insights into the fund governance process in a way that is observable and measurable,” comments Seymour.
One of the big focuses for the firm is ongoing regulation, in particular AIFMD and FATCA, for which DMS has developed solutions.
“We have established an AIFM in Dublin, which will offer passporting capabilities and allow managers to continue to market their funds effectively throughout Europe. European investors appreciate it because they want to continue investing in the best managers but at the same time they want managers to comply with these new European regulatory standards.
“In addition, we have created a FATCA platform which is overseen by a team of seven professionals; we have attorneys, US tax professionals, CPAs and it is their job to act as FATCA Responsible Officers on our funds and ensure that compliance with FATCA is upheld.”
On winning the award, Seymour says: “We are humbled to have won this award. It caps off a great year for us as a firm. Our client funds assets have grown from USD214bn to USD330bn and it is a testament to the wonderful work of the DMS team and the strong commitment of our stakeholders.”