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John Hunter, Head of Banking and Fiduciaries Finance Isle of Man, had the opportunity to catch up with Edward Leigh about his new role as Client Director at Zedra.

Tell me about your career to date? 

I first began my career in banking and moved into the fiduciary sector where I specialised in the marine and aviation sectors assisting ultra-high-net-worth individuals who own superyachts and business aircraft.  I have previously held Director and Managing Director positions with various global trust companies.

What is your role at Zedra and what have you been working on since joining?

Since joining Zedra in July 2020, my role as Client Director is to support existing owners of corporate jets and superyachts and help with the strategic development and growth of Zedra’s marine and aviation service lines.  The Island continues to be an attractive jurisdiction for structuring luxury assets, and our robust regulatory framework and slick operating processes help to keep our competitive advantage.

I have been working on the development and promotion of a range of new yachting and aviation products.  These range from crew employment solutions, escrow, EU importation, VAT deferment and benefit-in-kind structuring.     

Please could you explain the Escrow service?

Our escrow facility can be used for a wide range of commercial transactions and is commonly used in higher value transactions such as the purchase of a yacht or aircraft.  Having extensive experience with this asset class, being independent and regulated, gives buyers and sellers absolute assurance and peace of mind when conducting higher value transactions.        

Which jurisdictions do you feel would benefit most from this service offered from the Isle of Man and why?

This service will appeal to all jurisdictions but the European time zone in particular will be attractive for aircraft transactions which traditionally take place in the United States.  The Isle of Man is a leading international business centre making it a natural option for clients seeking alternative to using a US escrow agent.

Has the COVID-19 travel restrictions created any issues for Zedra or your clients?

Whilst it is important in this industry to meet face-to-face with clients and client representatives, understandably many are reluctant to meet at the present time. 

Travel restrictions have meant that several key industry events that we would normally attend have either been cancelled or postponed until next year. 

Consequently, we have relied heavily on video conferencing, webinars and other social media to share and receive industry news and updates.

As a result of COVID-19 do you see any major changes in the way business development from the Island is undertaken?

Whilst video conferencing has proven to be very popular, I do not anticipate we will see any significant changes in the way that business development from the Island is undertaken - certainly in the medium to long term. 

How has COVID-19 impacted the demand for superyachts and corporate jets and what is the outlook for the next 12 months?

Interestingly, as the worldwide travel restrictions are starting to slightly ease, the market is seeing increased interest and demand for chartering of both asset classes. This is most likely due to many ultra-high-net-worth individuals recognising that chartering or owning is one of the safest ways to travel and to spend time with the family. 

I expect the charter demand will naturally lead to ownership demand particularly in the pre-owned market. 

How does being based in the Isle of Man help your industry?  

There are multiple benefits which include the Isle of Man being a safe and secure common law jurisdiction with a clear and simple tax regime.   

The Island operates world class yacht and aircraft registries with high service levels and a quality international reputation. Both registries offer secure mortgage registers and operate under a competitive scheme of charges.

The Isle of Man is further supported by a network of highly experienced legal, tax, corporate and trust professionals who can deliver a wide choice of ownership vehicles and products which can then be tailored to suit owners’ individual circumstances.  


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