Are you a Connecticut-based hedge fund employee, perhaps living and working in Stamford and unable to imagine life getting much better than that in the 06901? Well don't get too comfortable. According to a report in the February issue of Bloomberg Markets Magazine, it's not entirely out of the realm of possibility that your bosses may soon force you to relocate to Malta, where many a firm has been "lured by low taxes, cheap labor and a coveted address inside the European Union." If the idea of giving up all this [gestures towards the ashes of Hula Hanks Island Grille & Bar, I-95, the gleaming, glittering UBS building, freezing your ass off walking from house to car and car to office] for a "sun-drenched island in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea" that gets 300 days of sunshine per year sounds like a trade you're somewhat unsure about, you're not alone. Erik Nelson was once in your shoes, too.
Erik Nelson was working in Stamford, Connecticut, as a research analyst at FMG USA LLC, the U.S. arm of FMG, a fund of funds specializing in emerging and frontier markets, when his bosses called him into a meeting in September 2009. They had recently moved FMG’s corporate headquarters to Malta fromBermuda and now they wanted Nelson, 27 at the time, to head up the new office. “I’ll have to think about it,” Nelson replied.
Three months later, Nelson did end up making the trip, like the other hedge fund employees who've helped Malta increase the number of funds with a local presence by 30 percent since 2010. And in a crazy plot twist no one saw coming, is actually having a pretty okay time.
Strolling along the harbor in Sliema, a section of Malta’s northeast coast known for its bustling bars and restaurants, Nelson says he doesn’t regret leaving Connecticut. Nelson’s apartment is a two-minute walk from FMG’s offices. He plays squash. He sails. He goes spearfishing. “I’m a big water sports guy,” Nelson says. “Here, I can walk out my front door, cross the road and jump in the water.” He says if he gets “rock fever” and feels he has to get off the island, the rest of Europe is just a short flight away. As long as Nelson comes back to the rock, Malta’s government will be happy.
Those not into water sports may have a bit harder time adjusting to the dump.