The Sovereign Group is delighted to announce that it has now completed the transition of its headquarters office in Gibraltar from 143 to 117 Main Street (now renamed Sovereign Place), a move that marks a significant milestone in Sovereign’s journey and a substantial investment in the future of our business on the Rock.
Sovereign was founded in Gibraltar in 1987 and today it is the largest office within our global network. Sovereign now employs over 100 staff and is one of the most significant private sector employers in Gibraltar.
The renovation of Sovereign Place – the conversion of an historic family freehold within the Old Town of Gibraltar into a four-storey office providing 1,300sqm of Grade A office space – has taken some three years since the Development and Planning Commission first approved the development in June 2017.
Many of the original features have been retained in the refurbishment. As we feel strongly about the conservation of such a historic building, we have applied for it to be listed by the Gibraltar Heritage Trust. The features include the retention and refurbishment of the façade, the staircase, the mosaic wall tiling, the marble flooring, three fireplaces, doors, as well as the water well and the basement, which was the original water catchment area.
At the same time, the refurbishment has provided modern, well-equipped fully functional office space with disabled access that will give our staff the space and facilities they need to function and flourish, whilst also providing our clients with a much improved client experience.
As part of the process of transitioning the business to Sovereign Place, we have made some key appointments. John Blake, previously Director of Client Services and Business Development, was promoted to Managing Director of Sovereign Trust (Gibraltar) in December 2019.
John has primary responsibility for driving the growth of our Corporate Services and Private Client divisions through the Gibraltar office. He also sits on the board of Sovereign Trust International, which serves as trustee of our pensions and trust business in Gibraltar and holds individual director positions on several client companies that are controlled functions approved by the Gibraltar FSC.
John was instrumental in spearheading Sovereign’s response to Distributed Ledger Technology (DLT) business. He wrote and implemented our group policy on DLT and virtual assets and also established and sits on Sovereign’s DLT Sector Committee, which acts as gatekeeper for business referred by group offices.
He started his career in the Isle of Man in 2004, where he gained a wide range of industry experience managing complex structures for corporate and high-net-worth private clients. Having relocated to London in 2014, he first joined Sovereign (UK) Limited in 2016 before relocating to Gibraltar.
John holds the Institute of Directors (IoD) Award in the role of the Director and the Board, the Diploma in International Trust Management from the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners (STEP), the International Diploma in Governance, Risk and Compliance from the International Compliance Association (ICA) and is a professional member of the Chartered Institute for Securities & Investment (CISI).
Darren Whitley, formerly Director of Sovereign Pension Services, was promoted to Managing Director of Sovereign Pensions Services (Gibraltar) Limited earlier this year. Having started his career in international banking with HSBC Private Bank in Jersey, Darren has over 20 years’ experience in the industry.
Darren joined Sovereign in 2008 as Head of New Business for Sovereign Group (Europe) and was promoted to Business Development Director in 2015, when his focus switched to the retirement planning area of the business. Darren is instrumental in maintaining and growing our Occupational Pension offering in Gibraltar. He also serves as Business Development Director for Sovereign Pension Services, Malta.
Sovereign’s other regulated entities in Gibraltar, namely Sovereign Wealth and Sovereign Insurance Services are headed by Eamon Bermingham and Neil Entwistle respectively. They have each held the MD title for a number of years and are well known stakeholders locally.
Neil has over 15 years’ experience as an underwriter including working with RBS Insurance and Zurich Private Clients in the UK, he specialises in the provision of innovative insurance products for our High Net Worth client base. Neil joined Sovereign Insurance Services in January 2013 to expand our range of high quality insurance products, especially for our Private Clients. Neil is also a prominent member of the Gibraltar Insurance Institute, a body that works to support training and education to its members as well as working with schools and colleges to promote insurance as a career.
Eamon relocated to Gibraltar from Jersey where he spent 12 years in the Investment Management Industry. Drawing on his extensive experience he heads our licensed and regulated investment arm, advising clients of the Sovereign Group. Sovereign Wealth provides investment oversight for all Group investment mandates including personal and occupational pension portfolios in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Isle of Man, Malta and the UK.
As we know, Gibraltar has enduring strengths that mean it can continue to prosper as a highly developed business services infrastructure where it is possible to passport financial services into the UK market, together with a highly competitive corporate tax rate and a stable Sterling-equivalent currency. Gibraltar offers a stable political and economic environment, fit-for-purpose regulations, a legal system that is modelled on the English structure, a highly qualified workforce and one of Europe’s most advanced fiber-optic communications networks.
Between Sovereign’s four licensed entities in Gibraltar the MDs work together closely armed with a compelling suite of services to drive growth and sustainability for Gibraltar businesses. Whether it’s establishing, or supporting an existing business, or perhaps just supporting its owners, our offering spans across employee benefit packages and incentive plans, trustee and director services, accounting, payroll, bespoke corporate and private client insurance, occupational and personal pension plans, obtaining local licenses & permits, plus company secretarial and management, Sovereign truly have the solution.
Despite massive disruptions created by the Covid-19 pandemic, Sovereign continues to make significant progress. We have had up to 400 of our 475 staff working from home across 18 different countries or territories, which is a fantastic achievement and importantly we have managed to avoid any redundancies. Companies are still being incorporated, trusts are being established, pensions are being set up, payments are being made, and contracts or agreements are being signed.
We have made substantial investments in our systems and our staff and continue to seek out opportunities for acquisition. Sovereign has acquired five local businesses over the past five years and is geared towards further growth. We recently acquired the business of First Rock Trustees Limited, a licensed company and trust manager. First Rock Trustees was founded 30 years ago with an emphasis on private client work. First Rock Trustees will continue to trade under its own name and its client portfolio will continue to be managed by Emma Cooper, who joins Sovereign.
Our move to new premises coupled with an exemplary leadership team represents our dedication to growth in Gibraltar.
We are very proud to call Gibraltar our home.