Relocating to Guernsey was a dream move for Tim Clipstone. With Ogier’s continued growth locally and abroad, the Group Partner has found the firm's people-focused culture, the Island's high quality of regulation, and Guernsey's great outdoors a perfect fit for this chapter in his life. Tim speaks to Laura Clayton about his career journey and how he has settled into his new Guernsey life.
Tim, who grew up in Hampshire and started his career working in London as a corporate lawyer, spent more than a decade in the Caribbean as a funds lawyer before moving back across the Atlantic. That time included four years in the BVI before a move to the Cayman Islands to open a new office for a previous firm, and it also happened to coincide with the global financial crisis of 2008. That might not sound like great timing for an investment funds lawyer, but he says it worked well.
“Before going out to the BVI I was working as a corporate lawyer, doing quite a lot of downstream work for Venture Capital funds, especially around the time of the dotcom boom, and I got increasingly interested in the funds world – where the money was raised and how it was structured. I joined a BVI funds practice and spent four years there during the last big boom. Lots of new funds were being formed and restructured at the time,” He said.
He was asked to help set up his then-firm's new Cayman office just before the financial crisis in 2008 and the collapse of Bear Stearns and Lehman Brothers, which sent shockwaves through financial circles
He says: “We’d originally planned to do fund formation but because of the circumstances we quickly got into advising on distressed fund issues and actually, while it was obviously a difficult time for the markets, it was strangely quite a good time to open an office because it gave us a kick start in terms of referrals and work.”
After spending four years in Cayman, it was time to move back to the BVI for another five - but Tim started to feel a growing desire to move back closer to home, and carry on his funds and corporate practice.
Tim was aware of Ogier because he'd worked with their lawyers in BVI and Cayman – and when the opportunity arose to join its Guernsey team, he jumped at the chance.
“Ogier has always been a firm that I’ve liked and admired. I always thought they were a good bunch of people.
“What was attractive about it, and what I enjoy, is the feeling among the partners that the firm as a whole is very much looking after its people.
“We're very focused on information technology and a flexible working culture, and accept that people work in different ways.
“Ogier is a top quality law firm, and there is a different feel to it. We want to be at the forefront of technology and innovation in the way legal services are delivered - and we're not just saying that as a marketing line, we’re really doing it.
It took just two visits for Tim to decide to move to Guernsey, with the Island's beauty and other charms of island life a big attraction, combined with the quality of work available at Ogier being a real draw when choosing Guernsey over other locations.
“I quickly felt that it was the right thing to create a base here and put down strong roots.”
Tim is also impressed that Guernsey is at the forefront of compliance issues for international clients.
“The white listing by the EU was a big positive message, but it’s about more than just substance - substance is the last bit of the jigsaw.
"It has built on Guernsey fund products being approved for passporting in principal three or four years ago by ESMA for AIFMD marketing purposes as well as CRS and GDPR implementation - there’s nothing left to do currently.
“The real challenge for industry in moving forward is not just staying competitive but also staying compliant, because if you slip back on that then clients do look at these things, they take notice if there’s an issue and it can influence structuring decisions for them.
“Another really positive move for Guernsey is the Green Fund. It’s a new product that’s being offered to provide a kite mark, and is the first of its kind in the world. It’s something that is good to talk about to clients and influencers. It’s not just about compliance, it’s not just about whether we are reporting tax properly, it’s actually about a real product that has real value.
“I didn’t know anything about that when I chose to come to Guernsey and when it was announced last summer I thought: this is brilliant. I’d been looking out for something like this for a while, so the stars aligned as I moved over."
With more than 65 employees in Guernsey, and the firm growing all the time, it’s an exciting chapter for Ogier and its staff.
“We’ve had three new associates joining, a new paralegal and we’re due to get two new associates this summer - and that’s just in my team. There’s a real investment in people.
“It’s fantastic to be part of a very positive and growing environment. Even though the world is quite uncertain there’s a very positive outlook at Ogier and a very strong belief that we will grow both in Guernsey and in our other jurisdictions of Jersey, Luxembourg, Cayman and BVI.“
For Tim, Guernsey is paying off, helping to facilitate a life outside of work with sea swimming, cycling, running and gardening – and he's proud to work for a company that believes in the importance of enjoying life to the full both within and outside the office
"A lot of firms will say, 'our people are our most important asset' but to actually live by that is something else – Ogier walks the walk."
This article first appeared in Connect Guernsey