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Five Years On: The Cayman Alternative Investment Summit Looks To The Future

Five Years On: The Cayman Alternative Investment Summit Looks To The Future

The Cayman Islands is the world’s fifth largest financial centre and home to over 11,000 regulated funds, so it is no surprise that one of the industry’s top alternative investment events takes place on Grand Cayman’s sun-soaked shores.

The Cayman Alternative Investment Summit (or ‘CAIS’ as it is more commonly known) just concluded its fifth year, its largest and most highly-publicised to date. At CAIS 2018, leading thinkers and decision makers from across the alternative investment industry convened to discuss the theme of this year’s conference, “Wired: The rise of alternative investments in the digital age.” From humble beginnings in 2012, CAIS has grown significantly, with this year’s event welcoming a record 546 delegates and hosting over 80 financial industry special guest and celebrity speakers.

“We want to be industry changers, and at the cutting edge of driving the alternatives industry forward. If thoughts and ideas can be shared and discussed at CAIS in an informative but informal way, and if we can help transform the industry in a positive manner - that’s ultimately our end goal,” says Chris Duggan, Director of CAIS and VP of Community Development for Dart Enterprises Ltd.

Chris Duggan
Chris Duggan, Director of CAIS and VP of Community Development for Dart Enterprises Ltd.

Dart has been the lead host of CAIS for the last four years, and keeping the agenda current and timely is not achieved by chance, stresses Duggan: “With rapid technological changes and major geopolitical shifts around every corner, the alternative investment industry has to change and adapt regularly.”

“Each year when our editorial board gets together to decide the theme of CAIS, we take a look at what’s been going on in the industry over the past year, what is predicted to cause seismic shifts in the future and what topics we feel would spark the most stimulating conversations for attendees. We’ve gone from ‘a new vision for a new age’ to ‘supercharged,’ from ‘defying gravity’ to ‘wired’. Who knows where the global trends will take us for our 2019 theme?”

The highlight of this year’s event was keynote speaker and Hollywood superstar Will Smith performing with a local youth steel pan band. Previous keynote speakers have included Tony Blair, Al Pacino, Jay Leno and Arnold Schwarzenegger, with special guests including Meghan Markle, Jamie Lee Curtis, Danica Patrick and Sir Richard Branson.

CAIS keynote speaker Will Smith meets with a local youth steel pan band.

“Bringing in non-industry speakers who can link their expertise to the industry at a high level is beneficial as it often leads to new insights and new ideas. We aim to educate our delegates, encourage critical thinking, deliver lively debate, and generate tangible insights that people can apply to their own businesses,” says Duggan.

CAIS has also hosted leading names from the investment industry, including Blackrock, The Carlyle Group, WorldQuant and J.P. Morgan Alternative Asset Management. Speaker Mark Yusko, founder and CIO of Morgan Creek Capital Management, recently referred to CAIS as ‘a highlight for the year in terms of content, discourse and pushing the envelope in the evolution of the investment industry.’

As CAIS is a not-for-profit conference, the event uses its experts and expertise to benefit charitable efforts both in Cayman and internationally.  The ‘Philanthropic Panel’ which historically takes place on the last day of the conference, continues to be the best rated panel year-on-year, and is used to highlight extraordinary businesspeople who are working for the greater good.

The world’s first robot citizen Sophia speaks at the Cayman Alternative Investment Summit.

CAIS also places emphasis on giving back to the local community. Whether its launching a weather balloon into space with the help of NASA astronauts, asking questions to the world’s first robot citizen Sophia or the local cadet troop getting motivational messages from Arnold Schwarzenegger

An added benefit for delegates and the community alike, CAIS always concludes with Legends at Camana Bay – an exhibition tennis event that has quickly grown to become the biggest sporting event in Cayman, attracting over 1,500 visitors per year. The event regularly features reigning and former Grand Slam champions, former World #1s and Hall of Fame legends including John McEnroe, Jimmy Connors, Chris Evert and Anna Kournikova. 

For more information on the Cayman Alternative Investment Summit, please visit

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