Craig is a funds Partner at Ogier in Guernsey and is highly experienced in the structuring, restructuring, establishment and running of offshore funds and collective investment vehicles and has advised on numerous listings on a variety of stock exchanges.
Craig made the move from London to Guernsey in 2016 after being approached, offshore legal recruitment specialists at Robert Walters. Here, Craig provides insights and advice based on his own experiences on making the move offshore as seamless as possible.
Craig, you have now been based offshore for over two and a half years. Can you tell us a little about the decision-making behind your move to Guernsey?
Having worked for over a decade at my original firm and 6 months at another firm where I was on the partnership track, my partner and I decided that we were ready to move away from London, ready for a new challenge. It had nothing to do with work at all, which I was enjoying – we had recently bought a house in France and consciously, or unconsciously, we felt that we needed to look outside of London. We considered other areas in the UK, however in 2016 I was approached by Robert Walters who focused on recruiting legal professionals into the offshore market, and we quickly realised that the offshore lifestyle and surroundings were exactly what we were after.
One of our key reservations was about diversity, but we have been pleasantly surprised. There's no escaping that Guernsey is small and it takes a bit of adjustment and getting use to the small island lifestyle – there are no private dinners without being spotted by someone you know, a real community feel.
How did you find the process of moving offshore – from the interview process, through to job offer and getting over there to start?
The process was all pretty painless. To be honest I was fortunate to have something to sell (senior funds lawyers are a little like unicorns) and so the interview process was more a case of looking to see if Guernsey was going to be a good fit for me and my partner. Having worked on Guernsey structures for over a decade the transition and process of moving was focused more so around making sure that we could actually live there. Moving out of London was a difficult decision – we pretty much knew that once we left there was little chance of us returning, and especially not to live in Zone 1 again!
How did you find the move initially and was there anything that you found challenging?
Integration locally is probably the hardest thing – it's especially difficult for my partner, Leo, as he works freelance and so doesn’t have colleagues on-Island. We actually now find ourselves craving more time on the Island.
What has the work been like that you have been involved in?
The most noticeable difference is in the number of matters that you can expect to work on offshore – especially in non-contentious teams. Whereas in London I would have expected to work on only a handful of key matters each year, in Guernsey we will work on hundreds of different matters over the course of a year. Dipping in and out of matters can be difficult but it does add interest to our work. I think I had probably expected the work to be less complex than in London, but broadly I haven't found this to be the case. Part of my role also involved a fair amount of travel into London – which provides a great opportunity to catch up with friends and ex-colleagues.
What has it been like living in Guernsey?
I feel pretty fortunate to have a career that enables me to continue to work on the transactions I used to work on in London but from a beautiful location. It sometimes feels like we have lost our FOMO (fear-of-missing-out) – London often felt a bit depressing if you weren’t always doing something. We are now totally guilt-free and happy to simply go for a walk on the beach.
Do you have any advice for lawyers who might be on the fence about making a move offshore?
Life is too short. We spent a lot of time weighing up the move, but ultimately it came down to having a better quality of life younger. Quality of life is of course subjective – my quality of life when I was younger was being able to finish work at midnight and still go out for a drink, but everything changes. There is an adjustment to make; we take a lot of flights to visit friends (and there is a cost to that) and so we are pretty ruthlessly organised to get stuff booked in. The key apprehension I had was that moving to Guernsey was a one-way ticket out of London with no possibility of returning to London to a firm of the same calibre. This is almost certainly untrue, but I have no plans to return anytime soon!
For more advice about taking the next step into the offshore market, please contact Sahar Khan at firstname.lastname@example.org or +44 (0)207 509 8451 for a confidential discussion about your situation.