ABIC On Covid, Economy, Recovery & More

November 17, 2020

The Association Of Bermuda International Companies [ABIC] recently held their 17th Annual General Meeting virtually, with the association focusing on conducting business in the wake of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

A spokesperson said, “Bermuda has a good track record of responding to the challenges and opportunities that come from change. However, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic is unprecedented and like other jurisdictions around the world the island’s resilience will be tested.

“Now more than ever is the time for Government and the business sector to work together to ensure the island’s relevancy and future success.

“Patrick Tannock, Chairman of the Association of Bermuda International Companies [ABIC], emphasized this during the organization’s recently held virtual 17th Annual General Meeting.”

Acknowledging Government’s proactive handling of the pandemic, Mr. Tannock, who is also CEO of AXA XL’s Bermuda Insurance Operations, said, “Fortunately, we are in Bermuda, and relative to the rest of the world, are doing very well in terms of limiting the spread of COVID-19.

“The Bermuda Government’s response and approach to tackling COVID-19 has been first class as they have acted decisively, communicated with clarity and have been bold with legislation to keep us safe. ABIC has worked with the Government to ensure that the International Business [IB] sector was able to operate with minimal disruption.

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“On behalf of the IB community, ABIC would like to thank our fellow Bermuda residents who during the lockdown could not simply transition from working on the ‘job’ to working remotely from home but made the economic sacrifice to stay home for the health and safety of all of us and this country owes all of you a tremendous debt of gratitude.”

The spokesperson said, “ABIC has worked with Bermuda’s commercial insurance industry, local insurance companies, investment managers, financial service companies and medical associations to raise more than $2.7 million for COVID-19 related lifesaving equipment for King Edward Memorial Hospital.”

Mr. Tannock said, “We should be proud of the collaboration between international and local businesses to support the community at such a critical time and the work of those on the frontline who continue to make a real difference to our community.”

The spokesperson said, “He noted that for Bermuda’s journey of recovery and ultimately economic renewal to progress, there must be agreement on the extent of the social and economic challenges facing the island.”

Mr. Tannock said, “One of the keys to our resilience will be how quickly and effectively we adapt to the new normal and our focus should not be on just getting through the pandemic as it will eventually end at some point.

“We must also focus on what the environment will look like when it’s over and what we need to do to position ourselves to ensure relevancy in the new normal.

“We don’t want to be in a position of what we could have or should have done but didn’t – too late. The work to reposition ourselves to ensure our relevancy must ramp up now.

“Bermuda is primarily a service economy and as an overarching trend, we must acknowledge that customers’ behaviors, both tourists and businesspeople, have definitively entered a digitalized, experience driven era.

“Critically, we must factor in the implications of COVID-19 on everything from consumer behavior, acceleration of technological disruption, globalization, supply chain issues, the way we work, the way we will work, to structural changes such, as but not limited to, real estate as we navigate our way to economic renewal.

“We are currently and aspire to remain one of the safest places on the planet. Recent decisive action by the government in terms of initiatives to market the island as an escape from the global pandemic to attract remote workers is gaining traction and has been well received. It is a good example of Bermuda responding to the opportunities that come from change.

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“Additionally, on the premise that political, social and economic stability are critical to Bermuda’s sustainability as an IB jurisdiction, our future sustainability is interconnected.

“In Bermuda we have access to some of the top intellectual capital on the planet who have consistently shown a willingness and desire to work collaboratively with government to provide solutions. We all have a role to play to mitigate the impact on our economy and put us on a path to economic renewal.

“Economic recovery will be challenging globally but by working together all of us in Bermuda will emerge from this stronger than ever.”

The spokesperson said, “Mr. Tannock pointed out that despite the challenges of 2020 ABIC is proud of its achievements throughout the year.

“He said ABIC continued to be an advocate for Bermuda by raising awareness of the value of IB and improving the dialogue.

“This included building on its Communication Plan which involved:

  • “Meeting with key stakeholders such as political parties and unions to discuss topical issues and to ensure there is an understanding of the needs of the IB sector.
  • “Partnering with the Bermuda Business Development Agency, Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers [ABIR] and Bermuda International Long Term Insurers and Reinsurers [BILTIR], ABIC led the second annual IB Week in February. The campaign strategy focused on awareness of careers in IB and the value proposition of IB. During IB Week:
    • “ABIC had panels of young professionals from the industry with ABIC Board members featured on 4 radio stations where they shared information on careers in IB.
    • “ABIC members hosted information session in their offices for students from the 5 Middle Schools and young professionals shared information about IB careers.
    • “ABIC sponsored an advertising program on social media and on bus backs with the message that IB is “As Bermudian As…… following the Gombeys, not swimming till May 24th, long socks and short pants and camping with a generator”. ABIC also sponsored 6 months of digital adverts on Bernews and on The Royal Gazette website, in theatres and via social media using the “As Bermudian As” theme.

“The ABIC Diversity and Inclusion Committee continued outreach to members with the objectives of encouraging diversity and inclusion at all levels of the organizations and supporting equitable treatment, respect, and fairness.

“ABIC hired Rachel Field a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion [aka DEI] consultant to help develop a robust program to support ABIC members in DEI. ABIC’s Board and DEI committee also participated in a CURB presentation on the History of Racism in Bermuda. Some examples of ABIC’s DEI events included:

  • “DEI Leadership – EY hosted ABIC’s first CEO Roundtable facilitating a discussion on DEI and what companies and CEOs can do to drive progress. A second event is to take place this month.
  • “Middle Management – ABIC hosted 3 virtual presentations for ABIC HR and managers. Topics were – “The plan for ABIC DEI; How to start and manage your company’s DEI Program and Mental Health in the Workplace.” ABIC also rolled out the ABIC DEI Resource Library on its website, sharing education resources on DEI.
  • “Data from the ABIC survey and from the Statistics Department is being used to inform ABIC members and staff on the demographics of IB industry.
  • “In the same way ABIC supported the “We Speak” start-up, ABIC are now supporting the ACRE group, the Association for Corporate Racial Equity, a group of black men and women from IB committed to advancing racial equity in the IB sector.

“ABIC spent the past year working diligently to assist Government on matters relating to the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development [OECD] Global Anti-Base Erosion Proposal Pillar 2, [the OECD digital tax proposals].

“Roy Fellowes and Richard Winchell have been leading ABIC efforts working closely with the Ministry of Finance, ABIR, BILTIR and with ABIC members to achieve the best possible outcome for Bermuda.

“The committee, which includes leading industry experts, has worked tirelessly to develop and support Bermuda’s position and technical arguments on BEPS Pillar 2 and to develop a plan of political outreach to persons of influence and those countries who have aligned interests with Bermuda.

“Mr. Tannock said ABIC also continued to invest in education. This included:

  • “Working with curriculum officers and teachers from the public middle schools to develop and deliver a curriculum to explain IB. Within the curriculum, students learn about the Bermuda economy, the value of IB and the challenges and opportunities in the IB sector.
  • “To ensure that Bermuda students are aware of the careers in IB, ABIC again met with S1 to S4 students at CedarBridge Academy and Berkeley Institute where a panel of young Bermudian professionals spoke about their career choices, challenges along the way and gave the students an idea of what their day-to-day lives were like. They also talked about personality fits for different careers and emphasized the importance of good grades, networking, mentoring and perseverance.
  • “Through the ABIC Education Awards, $784,500 was provided to students. ABIC is supporting 23 undergraduates and 2 postgraduates with scholarships this year. Now in its 43rd year, ABICEA has supported more than 675 students. ABICEA alumni, many of whom have excelled in their professions, continue to make significant contributions to the island’s business sector.
  • “As the founding sponsor of Bermudascholarships.com ABIC has fiduciary responsibility for the website. ABIC thanked AXA XL, BFIS, the Bank of Bermuda Foundation, Chubb, OIL, Renaissance Re, and the Ministry of Education for financially supporting the website. Support of the website’s annual maintenance by ABIC is possible due to ABIC members’ participation in the Harry Wilken Golf event.
  • “ABIC continued to support the Virtual Enterprises International program. VEI is a hands-on, interactive teaching and learning tool that introduces students to the world of business across a multi-disciplinary agenda. Students in the VEI program learn how a business works by creating a virtual product and selling services to other student groups in schools around the world. They have an opportunity to meet senior business leaders in Bermuda and develop understanding of sales, marketing, finance, administration, presentation and leadership skills. Mr. Tannock thanked Bacardi for coordinating the Berkeley program and KPMG for supporting it.

“He said in 2021 ABIC plans to:

  • “Continue its efforts to increase awareness of the value proposition of IB.
  • “Build on its efforts with the Government to utilize Bermuda’s competitive advantage of speed to market to provide real time solutions to the opportunities that come from change.
  • “Ramp up work with member companies to accelerate the transition from simply awareness of why D&I matters to development and execution of strategy to increase diversity & inclusion in Bermuda’s IB workforce.
  • “Continue to provide intellectual capital and input for consideration to the Economic Advisory Committee chaired by the Minister of Finance.”

Mr. Tannock said, “I remain resolute in my belief that Bermuda is the best suited domicile to capitalize on the opportunities that come from change. I appreciate how our members and Board have graciously and willingly stepped up to address these challenges and opportunities.

“Although there are more battles to be fought, I am confident that if we continue to embrace change and adaptability and work together and be our own best advocates for our value proposition that Bermuda will remain a domicile of choice.

“I would like to thank the members of the ABIC Board and every ABIC member for successfully executing on our 2020 goals and objectives. We are fortunate to have such a dedicated group of individuals and member companies within ABIC.

“We should be proud of what we have accomplished to date but never take it for granted. Let’s all work together to continue to build a Bermuda where everyone has equal opportunity for success.”

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Comments (1)

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  1. Joe Bloggs says:

    “Now more than ever is the time for Government and the business sector to work together to ensure the island’s relevancy and future success.”

    I agree wholeheartedly, but the fact you are even considering Bermuda’s “relevancy” in this context is very worrying.