Interview with: Chris Humphries, Managing Director
Managing Director Chris Humphries explains what sets Stuarts Walker Hersant Humphries apart from its competitors and how the firm is adapting to clients’ changing needs.
What do you see as the main points that differentiate STUARTS WALKER HERSANT HUMPHRIES from your competitors?
Stuarts Walker Hersant Humphries has become recognised for its Cayman law expertise, pragmatism and client service within the investment funds and corporate markets. As an independent boutique law firm, we are able to provide clients with efficient, timely responses and deep local knowledge of Cayman’s evolving legal landscape. With over 20 years’ experience in funds and corporate law in the Cayman Islands, our team of award-winning lawyers provide custom, expert advice to clients from around the world. We pride ourselves on customer excellence, value and proficiency and are recognised as a trusted name in the investment funds and corporate legal practice space.
In particular, our Investment Funds Team, (which includes recognised leaders in their field) provides offshore legal advice to both investment funds and investment fund managers. We have a very well-established practice in this area. Chris Humphries (Managing Director and Head of the Funds Department) and Andrew Hersant (Chairman) together offer over 40 years’ experience in offshore investment funds, with many hundreds of funds registered, operated, and liquidated. Alongside them are Jonathan McLean (Partner), Megan Wright (Partner) and Simon Orriss (Senior Associate) – all of whom are notable practitioners in this area. Richard Annette (Partner & Head of Litigation) fulfills a very valuable role in supporting the Funds team as he handles all investment fund related litigation, including restructuring, liquidations, and the winding down of funds, etc. The fund litigation team also includes Shuvra Deb (Senior Associate) and Adam Russell-Knee (Senior Associate).
Which practices do you see growing in the next 12 months? What are the drivers behind that?
We have seen a significant growth in the cryptocurrency and blockchain space and anticipate this practice area will continue to grow. As technology evolves and continues to challenge traditional ways of doing business, we are starting to see major firms implement blockchain technology into their business models across a wide range of industries. Certain events and online payment platforms are also starting to accept cryptocurrency as an acceptable form of payment which will further change the landscape and drive the growing demand within the fintech, blockchain and cryptocurrency space.
Over the past four years Stuarts Walker Hersant Humphries has established itself as a leader in the fintech, blockchain and cryptocurrency space. We have formed many dozens of crypto funds for clients based all over the world. In doing so, the firm has produced innovative solutions for a new market. In this fast-moving industry the responsiveness of the firm and jurisdiction have been crucial.
In 2020-2021 we saw real challenges as the Cayman funds sector saw a huge increase in regulation. We had to act quickly in order to advise our clients of their obligations under the new Virtual Asset (Service Providers) Act and the related changes to the Private Funds Act and the Mutual Funds Act. That this regulatory expansion came during a global pandemic only increased the challenge. However, our firm, and the jurisdiction as a whole proved resilient and flexible and the regime has largely been implemented smoothly.
Our Fintech, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain Team include recognised leaders, Chris Humphries (Managing Director) and Jonathan McLean (Partner & Head of Banking and Regulatory); as well as Megan Wright (Partner & Head of Corporate) who has gained outstanding momentum in this space.
What’s the main change you’ve made in the firm that will benefit clients?
At Stuarts Walker Hersant Humphries, we have increased VoIP and video conference capabilities to facilitate better communication and relationships with clients and customers, especially during the Covid-19 Pandemic and to accommodate the changing hybrid work environment globally. These capabilities also provide increased accessibility to our lawyers and flexible timeframes which are especially beneficial to our international clients.
Stuarts Walker Hersant Humphries has also implemented a World Class Responsiveness initiative that all staff follow in order to allow for efficient communication and good time management skills with clients. This involves increasing response rates for all forms of client and customer communication (calls, emails, instant messages, social media, etc.). We have an organized system that works for our matters, clients and staff, and are proud of the success and progress this initiative has brought about in both client satisfaction and work-efficiency.
Is technology changing the way you interact with your clients, and the services you can provide them?
Technology is certainly changing the way we interact with clients at Stuarts Walker Hersant Humphries. Our new VoIP and video conferencing policy allows us to be more flexible and interactive with clients and software such as DocuSign allows us to increase response times and meet deadlines more effectively. We find that most of our international clients prefer video conference calls and the comfort of being able to work from home or while they are on the go.
We have also availed of video conferencing to provide legal updates to our clients which has improved communication and customer relationships.
Can you give us a practical example of how you have helped a client to add value to their business?
Stuarts Walker Hersant Humphries adds consistent value by establishing collective investment schemes that allows clients to raise the capital needed, operate at a profit, and adhere to the regulatory and compliance requirements of the Cayman Islands. Our proven track record in advising leading international Law Firms, Investment Managers, Investment Companies and High-Net-Worth individuals is a result of the deep understanding of our markets and the expertise of our team members.
Are clients looking for stability and strategic direction from their law firms – where do you see the firm in three years’ time?
Clients look for stability and strategic direction from us and practical solutions to their circumstances. They want to know they are in good hands and are being given the most expert and up-to-date advice and guidance on what are often complex cross-jurisdictional legal matters.
We see Stuarts Walker Hersant Humphries growing and continuing to be a leader in the investment fund and corporate law space in the Cayman Islands and continuing to be at the forefront of leading-edge legislation in the Fintech, Cryptocurrency and Blockchain technology space.