Our safe harbour—for sailing and business

31-10-2017

Our safe harbour—for sailing and business

The 35th America’s Cup was more just than a sailing race—it was a demonstration of national pride, of entrepreneurial zeal, of a can-do spirit that merges the expertise of history with the idealism of the future, and Bermuda will continue to build on that success, writes Ross Webber of the Bermuda Business Development Agency.

It began as a long shot, but has delivered us a legacy. Bermuda’s historic hosting of the 35th America’s Cup has put our 21-square-mile island squarely on the map—not only for our ability to successfully stage a large-scale sporting event, but in the greater sense, too, as a centre of excellence worthy of the hype, visitors, investment, and media coverage the Cup has attracted to our shores over the past two-and-a-half years.

Innovation has long been the currency of Bermuda’s success, whether we’re reinventing the onion or dreaming up a cutting-edge pair of shorts. That hallmark made our brand synergy with America’s Cup all the more natural a fit. Bermuda is accustomed to achieving milestones that belie its diminutive physical size and hit far above its weight economically. During the America’s Cup, for example, we became the first country outside of US waters to host an American defender’s challenge of the Auld Mug.

Statistics tell the story best, particularly numbers reflecting the extraordinary visibility Bermuda received: the America’s Cup was broadcast to 162 countries by 29 broadcasters with 50 hours of live broadcast and 5.5 billion media impressions. Some 450 international media were accredited for the event, and an impressive 500 yachts visited the Island, including more superyachts than Bermuda has ever seen drop anchor.

Our status as a business destination has benefited as a result. The Cup was a catalyst for crowds of high-net-worth visitors and corporate sponsors, as well as major infrastructural investments, including several superyacht marinas, a new five-star hotel—plus plans for two more within the next three years. Nine acres of land were added to our West End, and renovations transformed the Royal Naval Dockyard’s heritage buildings. The 166-year-old Cup also achieved cutting-edge telecommunications upgrades—Bermuda trialled on-water wifi for the first time in the world.

Of course, the 35th America’s Cup was more just than a sailing race—to all concerned, it was a demonstration of national pride, of entrepreneurial zeal, of a can-do spirit that merges the expertise of history with the idealism of the future. These are exactly the attributes of excellence demonstrated by the Bermuda economy, traits that have distinguished our domicile as both a leading tourism destination and a heavy-hitting international finance centre.

We are recognised as one of the world’s top three reinsurance locations, the leading captive insurance hub, and the largest market for ground-breaking products such as insurance-linked securities (ILS), of which Bermuda claims three-quarters of worldwide capacity. The Island is also home to thriving asset management, trust and private-client industries as well as newer ventures such as life sciences and technology startups.


The BDA’s role

At the Bermuda Business Development Agency (BDA), we work to encourage new global businesses such as these to set up here, as well as supporting established companies in our market. We’ve also focused on making Bermuda a destination for leading industry conferences, attracting new events annually. The Regulatory Compliance Association (RCA) Symposium, Hedge Connection’s Global Fund Forum, the World Alternative Investment Summit (WAIS), AeroPodium, and ILS Bermuda Convergence are now successful annual fixtures on the calendar.

In 2017, we have introduced three more: the Bermuda Healthcare Forum, Insurance ERM’s Insurance Risk & Capital, and Global Reinsurance Innovation & InsurTech. For many decades, investment, insurance, trust and private-client professionals from all over the world have associated our Island with premier events and thought leadership, and this trend continues.

The momentum fuels our multisector economy, which has so much to gain from Bermuda’s advantageous one-stop-shop environment—a place where innovation thrives and cross-industry opportunities are the norm. The steady recent increase in family offices and investments in ILS are two good examples: ILS represents the creative repackaging of reinsurance risk into a securitised investment vehicle, while family offices can take advantage of a comprehensive suite of services and solutions for wealth-management needs, vehicles such as life insurance captives or segregated account companies (SACs), as well as a broad array of venture capital and private equity opportunities.

The variety and sophistication of Bermuda’s offering, supported by the deep multi-industry expertise of our service providers, attracts inward investment to the Island from diverse sources. Our market is also known for its collegial, collaborative, business-friendly environment, a place where government works closely with the regulator and industry leaders.

Reputation has never been more important, either. With sensible regulation, a 70-year-old beneficial ownership register, and treaties that promise transparency and cooperation with more than 100 partner nations, Bermuda represents a world-respected domicile for blue-chip business. Our market is very different from many other places in this respect, onshore or offshore.

Such quality sets us apart in an era of increasing regulation and geopolitical uncertainty on both sides of the Atlantic. Companies that select Bermuda do so for one reason beyond any other, and it’s because they want to meet the highest standards. That should provide comfort to insurers, investors, estate planners and entrepreneurs seeking long-term, sustainable solutions to tackle the most contemporary of challenges.

While perplexing issues will continue to run their course, Bermuda provides an attractive, accessible base from which to do sophisticated business worldwide. We’re proud to be a business centre with longevity, and our message to decision-makers is this: amid global disruption, Bermuda remains the intelligent choice.

Ross Webber is chief executive officer of the Bermuda Business Development Agency. bda.bm

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