Ingrid Pierce is Walkers’ global managing partner and heads the Cayman investment funds group. Ingrid has over 20 years’ experience and is recognised as one of the world’s leading investment funds lawyers. She acts for major institutions, asset managers, insurers, reinsurers, trustees and other fiduciaries. Her clients include many of the biggest names in asset management. Ingrid is a frequent speaker at industry events and a guest commentator on various media platforms including Bloomberg, CNBC and Fox Business.
What attracted you to a career in private funds?
I used to be a litigator so when I moved offshore I worked on several cases involving disputes between private funds and investors or creditors. Cases ranged from the terms on which an investor had subscribed for interests pursuant to a subscription agreement, private placement memorandum and a side letter, to cases involving the restructuring of a fund or insolvency proceedings precipitated by substantial redemptions. The cases were really interesting and provided great insight into the world of private funds. Seeing matters through the lens of a litigator was most helpful during the financial crisis, although many of the lessons are applicable today.
What effect has recent consolidation among key service providers in the funds space had on the market?
There has been a lot of M&A activity in the fund administration space, which is understandable, given the need to consolidate to achieve the right scale and infrastructure. This can be very beneficial to managers if the merger actually results in greater efficiencies. Some businesses have been well integrated although any acquisition usually takes time to bed in. Unsurprisingly, there has been a lot less activity in the accounting space given their limited exposure to alternatives relative to their overall business.
Is there a particular region that has seen an uptick in work in the space, and if so what is driving that trend?
Asia-based institutional investors have been increasing their allocation to alternatives, in part to diversify from other, more traditional, investments. Brexit has driven more work to places such as Ireland and Luxembourg. North America and, to a lesser extent, Europe have seen something of a rise in activism by private funds. While conglomerates are spreading their tentacles into other areas of non-core business, activists are bringing about change through spin-outs or other forms of restructuring.
How has the legal competition in the field evolved since you began your career?
Historically, there was little competition offshore. It remains the case today that institutional clients tend to gravitate towards the larger firms with a global footprint. However, there are many more choices now, and we see competition as a good thing, for all sorts of reasons. I have actually seen much more competition onshore as firms that traditionally did very little private funds work have migrated into the area and staffed up to meet client needs.
In what ways is technology changing the private funds space?
As with many other industries, improvements in technology will continue to have a huge impact in the funds space. Firms need to continually invest in this area, although substantial savings can be achieved, even in the short term. Many more firms can and do now outsource non-proprietary technology solutions and this will become even easier and more compelling in future.
Where, in your opinion, does the future of private funds lie?
In all likelihood, private funds will continue to thrive as they find new ways to deliver strong returns. I anticipate more convergence with the tech sector as those involved in venture capital move into private funds and newer managers of crypto assets and issuers of ICOs get into the space. I have also seen more movement into the lending space and the insurance sector.
With demands for greater performance and an increasingly challenging regulatory environment, the world of private funds is never dull!
What advice would you give to younger practitioners looking to pursue a career in the private
I would suggest getting experience in different types of corporate and private funds work before becoming too specialist.
It’s also important to get to know your clients’ business so that you can answer not only legal questions, but also be a valued adviser in other related areas.
Finally, get out into the industry. Attend events and get to know the players.
Ingrid Pierce enjoys a phenomenal reputation for her “strong substantive knowledge and practical advice”. Peers describe her as “a leader” in the offshore market and say, “You can totally count on her.”
Ingrid Pierce is Walkers' global managing partner and also heads the Cayman Investment Funds Group. She was elected global managing partner in October 2012 and sits on the firm's management committee.
Recognised as one of the world's leading investment funds lawyers, Ingrid has been described by Chambers and Partners as a "phenomenal lawyer", as someone "on my speed dial for the toughest Cayman Islands legal matters" and as someone who "impresses clients and peers alike". She receives "glowing references from clients, who say she is exceptional in her knowledge" and has been named in the 50 Leading Women in Hedge Funds, the IFC PowerWomen 100 and in every leading legal directory.
Ingrid specialises in all aspects of formation and ongoing operation of open and closed-ended investment vehicles, focusing principally on hedge funds. Ingrid services a large client base comprising major institutions, asset managers, insurers, reinsurers and other fiduciaries. Her book of clients includes many of the who's who of asset managers.
Given her litigation background and having advised multiple clients through the credit crisis and beyond, she has considerable experience with contentious matters including advising funds on managing distress in volatile markets. She has acted as counsel to investors and managers in connection with the acquisition, restructuring and winding down of various high profile funds.
Ingrid is a frequent speaker at industry events and a guest commentator on various media platforms including Bloomberg, CNBC and Fox Business.