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welcoming and accepting of women in those roles. In taking partnership decisions about an individual, it would never have crossed anyone’s mind here to stop someone because they were a woman. Ian was doing some very interesting work, and some cases were very big. It was exciting for someone fresh out of university to be working on deals that one then read about in the Financial Times. I got a real buzz out of it. I was phenomenally lucky to be coming


into law in Jersey at this time, and have been very fortunate to be working here when there was so much interesting work around.


How has the company changed since you started there? When I arrived, Mourant was doing quite a lot of work in setting up trusts for wealthy individuals. But the corporate work, and the interest in developing international, capital and fund work was really only just beginning. The growth in that area since then has been quite simply phenomenal. Our strategy was to see where the opportunities lay and to develop an expertise for them – before anybody else did. The first example of this was in convertible


capital bonds. Because we did the first few, there was an enormous ‘follow me’ effect, and other clients came to us because we had developed a reputation. Then there was the whole share-plans business, and this was followed by the development of property-unit trusts. These were the three areas we very deliberately targeted. They were areas that weren’t well known, and we very deliberately created the expertise so we could take the lion’s share of the business. When we first got into share plans, our competitors were openly laughing at us, asking us why we were doing it because what we were doing wasn’t even part of Jersey law. But two years down the line they saw what was going on and tried to open their doors to this business too.


You were instrumental in the sale of some of Mourant’s most successful divisions, saying they had grown beyond the level of a privately owned Jersey-based business. Do you think Jersey businesses in general struggle to compete on the world stage? When we sold our share-plan division, Mourant Equity Compensation Solutions, to HBOS in 2006, it had grown to a size and


26 businesslife.je June/July 2010


“Jersey has to understand what it is really great at. It’s good at ideas and innovation, starting up businesses and incubating them to a certain level”


sophistication that needed the supporting infrastructure of a big bank. What started out as doing benefit trusts for half a dozen senior executives in a company grew to providing a share plan for every single Vodafone employee around the world – 20,000 employees in 150 jurisdictions, with 24-hours-a-day multilingual helplines. It got to the point where we saw it was too big for us. It was enormous. The infrastructure that is needed to run a


truly international, 24/7 business is very large and very complex. It makes things complicated to headquarter all that in Jersey. Also, Mourant was owned by a number of private individuals, and that limited the future investment resources we had. We were competing with firms like JP Morgan and


Citibank – people with enormous chequebooks. It was this, as much as the infrastructure issues, that led us to the decision to sell. I’m not knocking Jersey, but once a


business reaches a certain size it doesn’t make sense to headquarter it in a small island.


What do you see as Jersey’s particular strengths? Jersey has an excellent pool of very talented people – it’s just that it has to understand what it is really great at. It’s good at ideas and innovation, starting up businesses and incubating them to a certain level. It also has the ability to respond to changes in the market through regulation and legislation.


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