Innovation in Governance Services Leads to Best Offshore Governance Firm Recognition
Athena International Management (“Athena”) has been shortlisted for the HFM US Services Awards in the category of “Best Offshore Governance Firm.” The awards recognise excellence in US hedge fund service providers, and this is the inaugural award for this category.
“Our recognition by the distinguished judges is reflective of the ways in which we feel that we stand out compared to other service providers and reflects our innovation, how our governance services have evolved during the global pandemic and how we have stepped up to the challenges of these unprecedented times,” says Allison Nolan, Athena’s Founder and Managing Director.
2020 marked an important milestone for the boutique governance firm—its fifteenth year in governance services—and the organisation welcomed in the new year with enthusiasm, optimism and a refreshed brand identity and approach to business. “We were excited to rebrand by introducing our new Athena logo, designing a fresh new website and strengthening the resources available to our clients through the introduction of a News and Insights section on our new website where key regulatory and industry insights and links to Athena’s published articles are shared,” explains Nolan.
A Fresh Perspective on Professional Fund Governance
With an increasing global (and local) focus on the regulation of alternative investment funds, this year Athena also made a strategic decision to add a General Counsel and experienced professional independent director to its team, to further enhance its specialised governance services, and to help its clients navigate changes in the legal, compliance and regulatory landscape in the Cayman Islands.
A Relationship Driven Approach to Doing Business
Furthermore, as fund managers continued to navigate the regulatory requirements and filing deadlines issued by the Cayman Islands Government and the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority, Athena saw an opportunity to assist its clients in understanding and navigating the high volume of legal and regulatory developments and updates that were circulating as each change was released through its own omnibus, in-depth Regulatory Updates as well as proprietary thought leadership from its team of knowledgeable subject matter experts for those who needed a more granular level of information.
“Our clients are our focus and our strategic philosophy of providing relationship driven governance solutions means that our innovation is grounded in delivering the highest quality of service,” adds Nolan. “We pride ourselves on being responsive and reliable dealing at all times with integrity and professionalism.”
Adding Value at Every Stage
Rather than a mass-market approach to client communications, the boutique firm’s high-touch approach was to update clients on an individual basis, drawing attention to the specific changes that were likely to impact them. For example, entities which were not previously registerable under the Mutual Funds Law (as revised) had to be examined to assess whether registration was required under the changes to that law or the new Private Funds Law (as revised). The result was beyond successful, with General Counsels, COO and CFOs all seeing positive impact on their operations in regards to timing for filings and extensions granted by the regulator in response to COVID-19.
A Personalised Service that Stands Out from the Crowd
Athena’s approach to managing its number of client relationships ensures its directors are personally available to meet clients’ needs and have sufficient time to fulfill their duties and obligations. This proved vital during the outbreak of the global pandemic and the consequences of the significant disruption across financial markets; Athena’s directors were readily available and had the requisite capacity to support its clients as issues arose.
“Our personalised approach to client service ensures that we are in touch with our clients’ businesses and needs, striving to consistently exceed expectations,” explains Nolan. “To support our relationship management, we recently invested in a proprietary client relationship management system giving us the benefit of a robust institutional-like infrastructure within a boutique setting and facilitating ease of communication, organised data, and improved delivery of client service.”
The Importance of Diversity & Inclusion
Looking ahead to the future, the female founded and led governance firm is reaffirming its commitment to the industry’s work on diversity and inclusion. Nolan has recently joined the Alternative Investment Management Association’s Global Diversity & Inclusion Steering Committee and, together with the Athena team, is committed to fostering greater diversity and inclusion in the Cayman Islands’ financial services industry.
Best in Class Governance Solutions
Additionally, Athena remains focused on providing the highest quality of service and professionalism to its clients. “By examining our values and mission we hold ourselves accountable to the highest standards of governance and our inherent culture reflects our desire to be part of a movement towards the evolution of the industry and business as a force for good,” says Nolan. In March this year, she attended a leadership gathering with 25 other world business leaders including Sir Richard Branson, focused on bringing about positive change in the world and leveraging influence for good, which she has successfully integrated into the mission and vision of Athena at the core level—leading to industry recognitions like the firm’s recent “Best Offshore Governance Firm” shortlisting.