“Where are the Cayman Islands?” friends at home often ask me. “South of Cuba, north of Jamaica,” I usually say, to which an envious response follows.
It was the same question that I had posed to the recruitment consultant when he first suggested Cayman as an option. I was then a solicitor in the City, tired of traversing the underground and longing to see more of the sun.
I was looking to move to a smaller city, hopeful of being handed City-quality work with greater client contact, and I found all of the above – and the sun – in Cayman.
As exotic as its location may sound, Cayman is probably the least Caribbean island in the region. This is partly due to the large proportion of expatriates that live and work here. Known as the fifth largest financial centre in the world, this Overseas British Territory is awash with accountants and attorneys from all over the world and is miles away from the image that people may have of a far off place where money is just deposited with no questions asked.
If you live here, surrounded by professionals from other first world jurisdictions, you will attest to the fact that Cayman is a responsible and stable player in the international financial services community.
To me, one of Cayman’s greatest selling points is the diversity of nationalities residing here. For instance, just within the firm where I practice – Mourant du Feu & Jeune – there are lawyers from the UK, Canada, South Africa, Jamaica, Malaysia and Cayman, each bringing a unique experience to the team, making it collectively stronger.
Cayman’s diversity also extends to the variety of work on offer. In the three and a half years I’ve been here, I’ve had conduct of, or assisted in, trust disputes, shareholder disputes, judicial review proceedings and even intellectual property disputes. In the background, I manage the more general disputes involving contracts and estates. While most of my colleagues focus on funds, financial services, insolvency or trusts, I have been happy to handle a mixed portfolio. Professionally, I can attest that I have grown leaps and bounds.
Most people move to Cayman for the work-life balance it offers. A typical workday in Cayman spans from 8am to 6pm. The commute to work takes about 15 minutes, leaving enough personal time to unwind and engage in the many activities on offer. Soccer, rugby, cricket, tennis, volleyball, golf, diving, running, swimming, cycling are all popular sports on the island, all very accessible. Having free time outside work was something I had to get used to, having moved from London. Although I initially found the place dull, I soon learned to use the time available constructively.
When Jamaica chose independence in 1962, the Cayman Islands opted to retain its links with Britain, a decision that continues to lend it political stability and has aided the growth of its financial sector. I can see my links with Cayman continuing for some time – what started as a two-year plan of visiting the Caribbean looks increasingly likely to evolve into a longer-term prospect.
I’m glad I made the move here despite its relative obscurity on the world map and would recommend it to others, especially to those with young children.