The international sector on the island is in growth mode in spite of the pandemic. Remaining “open for business” during a global pandemic is no mean feat, but that is exactly what Bermuda has been able to do, reinforcing the jurisdiction’s reputation for operational resilience and demonstrating its value to global CEOs.
Bermuda has continued to welcome new companies, capital, and investors throughout 2020 despite the challenges presented during this period of huge systemic pressure. In fact, as the Minister of Finance recently highlighted, the island has seen 502 new international companies and partnerships registered in Bermuda during the first nine months of this year, a 5.7 per cent increase compared to last year.
The Bermuda Stock Exchange has had a record year, with approximately 94 per cent of the global issuances of all ILS securities coming to Bermuda. And Bermuda continues to be at the forefront of global capital raising; with estimates of up to US$15 billion of new capital being deployed into Bermuda’s reinsurance sector over the last several months, we are starting to see a new wave of insurers and reinsurers — the class of 2020 — establish themselves in the wake of the pandemic.
This has been possible in large part due to the swift and decisive response of Bermuda’s government.
Strength Of COVID-19 Response
From very early on, as the pandemic started to spread around the world in March, Bermuda’s government instituted an aggressive testing approach to tackling COVID-19. And it has proven to be effective — so much so that the island is considered “low risk” by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and a “Safe Travels” destination by the World Travel & Tourism Council. Bermuda’s L.F. Wade International Airport has also earned accreditation from Airports Council International for its health and safety protocols.
As a result, while many other places have struggled to contain the virus, Bermuda has been able to welcome new people to the island. On 1 August this year, the government launched the Work From Bermuda programme, supported by the Bermuda Business Development Agency and the Bermuda Tourism Authority, offering non-residents the opportunity to work or study remotely here for a full year. As of the end of October, 557 applications had been received with 442 approved.
There really is no better way to appreciate everything Bermuda has to offer than experience it first-hand. The remote working professionals coming to the island connect with the world class business community here, gain an understanding of Bermuda’s value proposition, and then often look to establish something more permanent, whether that is a company or an investment in real estate to call home.
Of course, all of this activity does not mean Bermuda has been immune to the economic impact of the pandemic. There is no doubt that the fallout, particularly in sectors such as tourism, has been significant.
However, amid the current uncertainty about what the future holds and whether a vaccine will bring back a semblance of normality, there is cause for real optimism about the current standing and growth of Bermuda’s key economic driver, the international business sector.
Global Compliance Leader
With regulatory scrutiny on the rise across the world, Bermuda’s recent achievements will also stand the island in good stead.
Earlier this year, Bermuda returned to the EU’s Economic and Financial Affairs Council (ECOFIN) white list. The island was also recognised as a global leader in the fight against financial crime by the Financial Action Task Force (FATF). These achievements, led by the Ministry of Finance and the Bermuda Monetary Authority, serve not only to reinforce the island’s globally respected reputation, but also continue to give Bermuda a competitive edge over other jurisdictions.
Furthermore, Bermuda continues to hold full equivalence with the EU Solvency II Regime and is a NAIC Reciprocal Jurisdiction in the United States, providing level-playing field access to the Bermuda market. The current situation is a reminder of just how critical Bermuda’s risk management expertise and substantial financial capacity are in helping communities worldwide manage severe risk.
Technology And Innovation
Bermuda’s decades-long history of meeting and exceeding international standards has allowed multiple industries — including reinsurance, asset management, trusts, and other high-net-worth services — to flourish in its safe and secure business environment. At the same time, businesses and the government have actively embraced innovation and new ideas.
With the passage of legislation to facilitate digital asset businesses and issuances, Bermuda stands firmly at the vanguard of the digital asset sector. And to further encourage technological progress in the insurance and wider financial services sectors, the Bermuda Monetary Authority has developed its insurance regulatory sandbox and innovation hub.
Digital transformation on the island has accelerated, something that was discussed in detail during the 2020 Bermuda Tech Summit, and technology solutions will continue to play a crucial role in future growth, including in Bermuda’s economy.
What has always differentiated Bermuda is its ability to adapt to change. As a small island, we have consistently punched above our weight in the world of international commerce. But to do so, we have had to be nimble, innovative, and forward-thinking, and that is something that will continue in a post-pandemic world.
If you are interested in doing business in Bermuda, the Bermuda Business Development Agency can help and offers a concierge service that acts as a single point of contact, streamlining everything from networking with industry leaders to immigration applications and purchasing real estate. www.bda.bm
Roland Andy Burrows
Andy joined the BDA as CEO in December 2018. He was appointed by the Board after serving four-and-a-half years as chief investment officer for the Bermuda Tourism Authority, where he was responsible for cultivating investment via hotel development and other tourism-related infrastructure. He worked to stimulate capital investment, facilitate immigration, permits and tax issues, and helped create investor-friendly legislation to increase Bermuda’s competitiveness to attract inward hospitality investment. Previously, Andy spent 25 years in the financial services industry, including a decade at HSBC Bermuda, where he served as head of commercial banking. He has also been a director on numerous boards, including HSBC Cayman Islands, and currently serves as a director of Bermuda Chamber of Commerce, Raleigh Bermuda and Pathways Bermuda.