Working in Bermuda
A place in the sun
People had been showing increased interest in opportunities for remote working even before COVID-19 came along and made it compulsory for the majority of office workers. The Bermuda government moved to take advantage of this trend in 2020 by offering a one-year residential certificate. Bermuda:Re+ILS reports. .
On August 1, 2020, the Bermuda government launched the Work From Bermuda programme, supported by the Bermuda Business Development Agency (BDA) and the Bermuda Tourism Authority. The programme offers non-residents the opportunity to work or study remotely in Bermuda for a full year.
The programme has been very well received internationally, according to Roland Andy Burrows, chief executive officer of the BDA. To be eligible for the programme applicants must be at least 18 years old, have no criminal record and possess valid health insurance coverage. Remote workers must demonstrate employment with a legitimate company or their own company registered and operating outside Bermuda.
Students must provide evidence of enrolment in a research, undergraduate, graduate or doctorate programme.
Bermuda had received some 557 applicants by the end of October, of which 442 were approved. “These additional students and workers will benefit the domestic economy,” Burrows says.
“We are already starting to see some looking to establish something more permanent.”
Roland Andy Burrows, Bermuda BDA
One successful applicant who is already set up and working from home in Bermuda is Ashley Hunter, the managing director of HM Risk Group, an international re/insurance and risk management firm. Hunter was until recently splitting her time between New York and Texas, struggling with the logistical challenges of running a business with operations in two significant US COVID-19 hotspots.
Hunter admits the idea of moving to Bermuda had never occurred to her before she attended a BDA webinar about the programme in July.
“I knew Bermuda a bit, I had visited, but all I really knew was the Ocean, the Hamilton Princess and the airport,” says Hunter.
“I wasn’t hugely sold on the idea at first but it was a one-hour webinar so I attended anyway. I thought the application would be tedious but when they said it would take 15 minutes I filled it in. Three days later I had been approved.”
Hunter’s experience is typical in this respect: Bermuda aims to respond to applications for the programme in five working days, and has mostly managed to deliver on that.
Hunter says once the idea had been planted in her mind it quickly grew on her.
“Bermuda is a great place to do insurance,” she says. “A friend of mine did something similar but in Barbados, but that did not make any sense to me. Bermuda has the business infrastructure, and I already knew a few people here.
“The BDA and the Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA) are great to work with. This felt like a case of being in the right place at the right time.”
The talent of tomorrow and today
Bermuda has various initiatives focused on recruiting the next generation of re/insurance leaders in Bermuda. The partnership between the Association of Bermuda Insurers & Reinsurers, Bermuda College and New York’s St. John’s University, Maurice R. Greenberg School of Risk Management, Insurance and Actuarial Science, is one example.
The Work From Bermuda programme offers something different. It is less about nurturing a new generation of talent to become the leaders of tomorrow, but bringing to Bermuda the existing generation of talent that resides elsewhere.
“The remote working professionals coming to the Island connect with the world-class business community here, and gain an understanding of Bermuda’s value proposition,” says Burrows.
“We are already starting to see some looking to establish something more permanent, whether that is a company or an investment in real estate to call home.”
“Everything is just as easy here as it was in the US, and now I don’t have to fly every week.”
Ashley Hunter, HM Risk Group
One of those looking to put down roots is Hunter. “I have already applied to the BMA for my licence, and as long as I get that I will be staying,” she says.
“From a work perspective everything is just as easy here as it was in the US, and now I don’t have to fly every week. Zoom meetings work just fine, and I am in a better timezone for my meetings with London.”
Burrows believes the programme has come at just the right time, capitalising on the increasing interest workers have shown in remote working in recent years.
“The trends towards remote working has been growing for some time and it was a topic of discussion during last year’s Bermuda Tech Week, together with digital nomads,” explains Burrows.
“However, as COVID-19 accelerated that trend, the policy was developed in response to those changing needs and implemented quickly, together with the launch of a purpose-built website for smooth and efficient online applications.”
Burrows believes remote working will continue to be prevalent even as the COVID-19 threat recedes, although he concedes that “what that looks like and how it evolves as we move into a post-pandemic world is not yet clear”.
“We foresee the Work From Bermuda One Year Residential Certificate as being an option for non-residents going forwards and we look forward to welcoming those who choose to take up the opportunity,” he concludes.