BDA: Top 10 Bermuda Market Highlights Of 2015

December 30, 2015

The Bermuda Business Development Agency has released a year end review of the top 10 Bermuda market highlights of 2015, which follows in full below.

1. Solvency II equivalence

It took six years of effort, in Bermuda and Brussels, but industry insiders agree winning Solvency II equivalence is a major achievement for the jurisdiction. Not just for the [re]insurance sector, either. All business sectors will benefit from the European Union’s acknowledgement of Bermuda’s top-tier regulation. Our commercial reinsurers gain access to European markets,¬†and vice-versa, a win-win scenario. Kudos to the Bermuda Monetary Authority [BMA], the Bermuda government, the Association of Bermuda Insurers & Reinsurers [ABIR], and other industry associations and individuals who helped make it happen.

2. Progress made on AIFMD

Bermuda fund industry participants are helping position the Island to win recognition akin to Solvency II in the asset management sphere. The BDA’s industry focus group worked closely with the BMA to ensure amendments to the Investment Business Act [IBA] were drafted and passed by Parliament this summer, allowing Bermuda’s inclusion on a list of jurisdictions being considered for “third-country,” or non-EU ‘passport’ rights under the Alternative Investment Fund Managers Directive [AIFMD]. Such rights will benefit Bermuda-based hedge fund managers and EU-based investors.

3. GDP on the rise

One of the BDA’s core missions is to foster a conducive environment for economic activity allowing Bermuda’s gross domestic product to grow. So we welcome the fact the Island’s GDP has been on the rise for three consecutive quarters-the first time since 2008. Q3 statistics indicated GDP rose 1.5 percent, after adjustment for inflation. In addition, retail and real estate stats, key indicators for national economic growth, along with business-sector IPO and M&A activity, are also on the upswing, boding well for continued economic growth.

4. Speaking out

Defending Bermuda’s reputation makes sense, as well as dollars and cents. Ensuring our robust record on global compliance and transparency is understood is vital to maintain established business and encourage new entities to come here. That’s the thinking behind the BDA’s pro-active stand on jurisdictional advocacy this year that included numerous speeches, interviews and published op-eds by BDA CEO Ross Webber. Look for us to ramp up that positive message through Europe and the US in 2016.

5. New companies

EFG, Walkers, Harneys, Qatar Re, Scepter Group, Nova, Wing Yue Reinsurance, Roivant: the BDA’s concierge service assisted and welcomed these and other new companies across all industry sectors to our jurisdiction. Even before Q4 figures were tallied, the BMA had registered at least 53 new insurance companies in 2015, including 25 captives, with 20 percent from Canada and Latin America, key regions of BDA business development efforts this year. Bermuda also saw 52 new funds launched by the end of November, with more prospects in the pipeline.

6. New conferences

Not only do they ramp up tourism numbers, boost airlift, fill plane capacity, and soften the shoulder months for hotels, but major industry conferences also physically bring people to see for themselves Bermuda’s value as a place to do future business, or come back on vacation. The BDA helped bring and support numerous big-name events this year, including brand new ones like April’s RCA Regulatory Compliance Association [RCA] Symposium, May’s Transcontinental Trusts: Bermuda Forum, and June’s Global Fund Forum. We’re adding to that list in 2016: the Legal Week Private Client Forum Americas in February, and the World Alternative Investment Summit [WAIS] and ALARYS Congress in September.

7. New legislation

Appropriate legislative updates keep our jurisdiction globally competitive, and 2015 saw key bills passed to encourage growth. Highly anticipated legislation passed included the trust sector’s Perpetuities & Accumulations Amendment Act, as well as amendments to the Investment Business Act and Partnership Laws. That trend continues, with the Proceeds of Crime Amendment Bill tabled at year’s end to keep Bermuda compliant with anti-money laundering standards. Well done to stakeholders who helped drive these changes that paved the way for progress.

8. Empowering women

Professional women in Bermuda took action to mentor and give back in 2015. 100 Women in Hedge Funds [100WHF], a global association of more than 13,000 members in the alternative investment, asset management, investor and financial services industry, created a Bermuda group, joining its 20 others worldwide. The networking and philanthropic entity hosted several events and membership climbed towards 200 in 12 months. Women in Reinsurance [WiRe] launched a website [wirebermuda.com], blog, and LinkedIn group to share ideas and meet and mentor women in that industry.

9. America’s Cup

Bermuda got its first taste of America’s Cup action this October, when the Louis Vuitton World Series played out in electrifying fashion in the waters of our Great Sound. Along with the aerodynamics and athleticism televised to the world, the event’s economic impact was also impressive: monthly air arrivals surged 44 percent, according to the Bermuda Tourism Authority, fuelled by visitors flying in to spectate or do Cup-related business, including representatives from big-name brands such as LV, Airbus and Oracle. Having influential business leaders physically experience Bermuda is a persuasive tool to encourage investment down the road.

10. Industry awards

Innovation and experience drive the Bermuda market’s success, and world-class companies and talent continue to prove it. Our firms and professionals from all sectors garnered global recognition again this year. The honours list included tech start-up Trunomi, that ranked in the 2015 European FinTech 50; Axis Capital chairman Michael Butt, who was lauded with a lifetime achievement award from London-based Insurance Day; IKONIC Fund Services, a two-time winner at the HFMWeek US Service Awards; and Meritus Trust and Butterfield Trust, both honoured as leading private client companies at the annual STEP Private Client Awards.

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