BDA: Top 10 Bermuda Market Highlights Of 2018

December 27, 2018

The Bermuda Business Development Agency has released a year end review of the top 10 Bermuda market highlights of 2018, which follows in full below.

1. Innovation

The Bermuda market differentiated itself more than ever through pioneering legislation and aggressive business development this year. The proactive trailblazing boosted our competitive advantage and laid the foundation for a new industry, fintech, earning monikers like “Innovation Island” and “Silicon Valley of the Atlantic.” The fast-forward evolution builds on a legacy of doing things first; take our captive insurance and catastrophe coverage of the 1990s, whose milestone was also marked this year with ABIR’s 25th anniversary event.

2. New business

This year saw a raft of incorporations by fintech startups [Shyft Network, Uulala, SeaHeal, Laureate Digital, Alpha Innovations, Extraordinary RE] with more in the pipeline. But Bermuda wasn’t just attractive to blockchain business. We saw setups across sectors, including insurance, where the BMA registered numerous SPIs, captives and longterm companies such as CICA Life, Resolution Re and Athene Annuity. Recently launched companies also benefitted, boosting their employee rosters; examples included fund administrator Centaur and law firm Carey Olsen Bermuda.

3. Economic growth

Bermuda’s most telling economic indicator, our gross domestic product [GDP], grew by 2.5 percent over 2017, totaling $6.27 billion, according to a Department of Statistics report released in October. That represented a turnaround for the economy after years of decline. Making up a quarter of the economy, international business remained the largest sector. The BDA had a direct economic impact on the island of $26.3 million last year, thanks to new jobs and expenditure by conference visitors. The figures were part of our first commissioned PricewaterhouseCoopers study published this fall.

4. Diversification

Submarine fibreoptic cable corridors, tech incubators, vertical farming: these were some of the innovative areas the BDA has explored over 2018 in pursuit ofeconomic diversification. Student interns from Bermuda and Indiana’s University of Notre Dame teamed up for us on research projects this summer. They met experts and entrepreneurs, examined feasibility, and drew up white papers for Cabinet and stakeholders such as Bermuda First. The robust research will help our agency progress national diversification efforts.

5. Reputation

The BDA delivered positive global media coverage of Bermuda’s international finance centre this year, with a special focus on fintech. NASDAQ, the New York Times, Bloomberg Radio, Bloomberg News and Forbes were among major press groups that told the evolving Bermuda market’s story. Our jurisdiction’s proven record for respected, world-class regulation, global compliance and tax transparency continue to be our key message, underscoring Bermuda’s quality reputation.

6. Foreign outreach

BDA Executive Forums in New York, Miami and London, plus other industry events like RIMS, Consensus NYC, Posidonia, and Global Fund Forum, took our blue-chip market on the road, showcasing the extraordinary multi-sector expertise that sets Bermuda apart. We connected Bermuda’s Premier and Ministers with business and civic leaders in key markets, building relationships that strengthen the island’s overseas ties. Influential regional decision-makers we met with included Miami Mayor Francis Suarez, San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg, Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings, Lord Holmes of Richmond MBE in London, and members of the Florida and Miami-Dade Chambers of Commerce, and the World Affairs Council of Dallas/Fort Worth.

7. New legislation

Ground-breaking legislative initiatives that created the world’s first framework around initial coin offerings [ICOs] and digital assets business put Bermuda on the radar of worldwide investors and startups this year. The island also launched a new class of licences for banks, to offer innovative solutions for cryptocurrencies. The legislative push puts Bermuda ahead of competitors and builds on our long-envied English-common-law legal system that celebrated its 400-year anniversary last year.

8. Compliance

Bermuda ramped up its already robust anti-crime framework to deter anti-money laundering [AML] and anti-terrorist financing [ATF] before a Caribbean Financial Action Task Force [CFATF] assessment of our jurisdiction this fall. After a months-long consultative process with industry stakeholders, the government also passed laws to meet the European Union’s economic substance rules. And the Bermuda Monetary Authority demonstrated New-Economy know-how by forming a regulatory “sandbox,” allowing insurtech and other startups to test their models in our marketplace.

9. New conferences

Our agency supported more than 20 on-island events throughout 2018, and also attracted several new conferences that boosted our economy through hotel-room nights and visitor expenditure. Additions to industry calendars included the Ocean Risk Summit;’s “Bermuda on Blockchain” summit at BUEI; ICRMC’s launch of a Bermuda version of its successful Toronto staple; a Consensys event featuring blockchain superstar Joe Lubin; plus a scheduled 2019 forum hosted by cyber-risk giant Net Diligence. Many events returned, like Global Reinsurance’s “Innovation & Insurtech,” Transcontinental Trusts Forum, and Bermuda Captive Conference.

10. Community outreach

BDA spearheaded numerous campaigns and initiatives to spread the word on industry issues this year. Chief among them was “Just Good Business,”an effort calling on Bermuda residents to join a national effort to combat global financial crime. The campaign, produced for the government’s National Anti-Money Laundering Committee [NAMLC], demonstrated one of our jurisdiction’s greatest assets: collaboration. Supporters included ABIC, ABIR, BILTIR, BIMA, the BSX, BMA, Bermuda Bankers Association, and Bermuda’s Chamber of Commerce. Our work on the Everybody’s Business campaign also continues in 2019: look out for updates on International Business Week, slated for February!

Thank you to all our valued stakeholders!

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