Amy Ponnampalam, CEO. Athora Life Re
Obtaining a licence to operate as a life (re)insurer in Bermuda is challenging, but a bigger challenge there is finding appropriately qualified staff, Amy Ponnampalam, CEO of Athora Life Re, told delegates at the Bermuda Risk Summit.
The amount of government control, risk management and compliance that needs to be in place puts Bermuda “on a par” with North America and Europe, she said, but the continuing growth of that sector proved that finding capital wasn’t the issue.
A less obvious barrier is that the supply of talent isn’t keeping pace with demand.
“The life insurance and life reinsurance talent in Bermuda has grown over the last decade or so, but demand is huge,” she said. “Growing local Bermudian talent in this space is very limited so far. I’ve recruited for a number of roles since I’ve worked in Bermuda, and the number of qualified Bermudian applicants who are able to come forward is quite limited.
“And that really speaks to the role we need to play in changing that picture, which means doing a lot more around schooling, investing in education, internships and scholarships. When you’re promoting local talent, that means building a local talent pool because we are seeing a shortage of life actuaries on the Island. It’s difficult to get them in and they’ve become very expensive. It’s a real challenge and a barrier to entry, to some extent.”
Martin Spit, partner at EY USA, said there is nothing to deter life re/insurers from coming to Bermuda, “because the size of prize is too big”, but he agreed that talent is a major limiting factor in allowing people to move quickly from having an entity there four times a year to becoming one that fully operates in Bermuda.
Nicola Hallett, director of Captive & Commercial Insurance at Artex, said the regulator is “very welcoming”, but as life re/insurers ramp up their business “they’ll need boots on the ground, but there’s only a very small talent pool from which to source that”.
Brad Adderley, office managing partner & head of corporate at Appleby Bermuda, said the number of C-suite employees in the sector was “excellent for the jurisdiction”, but added that there was a need to ensure there are enough “independent, resident directors, who have either got financial expertise, the actuarial expertise, or the life insurance expertise to act as board members”. He suggested there was a “secondary job market” for retirees becoming independent directors.
Athora Life Re, EY. Artex, Appleby, Bermuda Risk Summit, Life, Risk Management, Insurance, Reinsurance, Amy Ponnampalam, Martin Spit, Bermuda