10 September 2016News

Eyes on the talent prize

According to Ann Besalo, senior manager, audit at KPMG in Bermuda, people who come to work on the Island get more than just a nice view.

“Bermuda obviously is a very beautiful island and has a much more laid-back environment compared with some of the major cities of the world, but at the same time it does provide you with the right amount of exposure when it comes to insurance industry experience.

“Being an offshore location with its connection across a multitude of global networks across the world, it does give you a lot more exposure than one might think.”

Despite its size, Bermuda has over the years become a major player in the re/insurance sector globally, and has one of the highest percentages of actuaries, accountants and underwriters among its population. In terms of moving to Bermuda for that sort of experience it is very attractive.

“Internships are very popular as well and these are an ideal way of learning about a career before you finally commit to a training programme."

The talent available is a mixture of home grown on the Island and recruited from outside.

“I know that Bermuda has a very good reputation of protecting its local population—obviously citizens and residents do come first and if the right talent is available here then they would definitely be picked first as a priority,” says Besalo.

“For example, all our trainee accountants are Bermudian and wherever possible we will recruit from the local market. However, there have not been enough Bermudian accountants and actuaries to meet the needs of business on the Island, so companies have to look overseas.

“Here at KPMG there are various nationalities within the firm. There are some locals and some expats. Working with individuals from different parts of the world provides a good learning environment—it exposes you to a variety of working styles and different cultures.”

Starting early

There has been a recent push to get information and recruitment details into Bermuda’s schools, and Besalo is positive about the developments.

“It’s definitely encouraged by the schools and welcomed by us,” she says. “Within KPMG, we network with the various universities and colleges and the high schools to provide young people with a mindset that this is definitely a good career path to go into, educating them about what it is that we do with regard to the re/insurance industry, and about the various areas that they can go into, such as suggesting actuarial practice, accounting, underwriting and so on.

“We have a very active student committee and a human resources manager who is committed to the programme, working with the schools and students to promote a career in accounting. So as early as high school we hold networking events to get them started and thinking about going into this industry.

“KPMG also runs the Student Investment Challenge every year with the high schools. This is a popular competition that exposes students to investments and the vagaries of buying and selling stock. For university students we offer summer internships—we have 16 interns this year, and an annual scholarship. Should they join us to train as accountants or actuaries they will have their education paid for by the firm.”

KPMG receives applications from a wide range of students.

“We receive quite a few applications for the scholarship every year and for the internships and trainee positions on graduation. Obviously we accept quite a few graduates, but there is a lot of competition for spaces,” says Besalo.

“Internships are very popular as well and these are an ideal way of learning about a career before you finally commit to a training programme. They also allow companies to get to know the young talent coming out of university and to plan their recruitment pipelines.”

After college

KPMG has a very robust graduate programme in which it helps young recruits through their certification process, whether that be in actuarial, or more typically accountancy. At the same time they work with the company as a part of their training while they’re studying for their certification.

KPMG provides them with on-the-job training and a competency map to guide them through various milestones and skills they should be hitting as they progress in their careers. The programme typically takes between three to five years from the time that they graduate.

“Demand varies from year to year, as it depends how many graduates we already have as a part of the programme,” Besalo says. “When they join us the certification process also takes into account financial requirements, so it really depends on the firm’s budget and how many graduates have applied—typically we will have no less than 10 Bermudians in training at any one time but this can go up to as high as 18 in some years.”

The new intake come from a wide range of countries.

“At KPMG typically the majority of employees that we recruit from year to year are accountants, along with some actuarial professionals and some tax professionals,” Besalo explains.

“When we recruit from outside Bermuda, the majority are from countries such as the UK, the US, South Africa, Canada, the Caribbean, the Channel Islands, Australia and New Zealand—typically any country that would have obtained Chartered Professional Accountant (CPA) certifications equivalent to Bermuda’s.

“When we advertise outside of Bermuda, we get a good mix of diverse nationalities. There’s no specific preference, we just need equivalence to CPA Bermuda.”

Ann Besalo is senior manager, audit at KPMG in Bermuda. She can be contacted at: