Investing in Bermuda’s future
The re/insurance industry has long been a generous supporter of charities and community projects in Bermuda, with Athene Life Re being a prominent force for good. Natasha Scotland Courcy, general counsel, chief compliance officer and co-chief operating officer at the reinsurer, spoke to Bermuda:Re+ILS about its charitable programme.
“We believe that giving all children the opportunity of a solid education is a great foundation for Bermuda’s economic development.”
Natasha Scotland Courcy, Athene Life Re
The re/insurance community has always been an active and generous partner to Bermuda’s charities and community projects. As one of the Island’s biggest employers, the industry has a keen sense of its responsibility to the community in which it operates.
The industry’s charitable giving continues through good years and bad, whether markets are soft or hard, and whether Bermuda’s own economy is enjoying growth or struggling with recession. In years such as 2020, however, its support is particularly important. In a year that has been dominated by a global pandemic that has put health systems and broader economies under immense pressure, charitable giving has provided a lifeline.
No one institution has a monopoly on charitable giving. In November Bermuda International Long Term Insurers and Reinsurers (BILTIR) reported that its members had supported more than 50 charitable initiatives over the last year. In all they made donations of over $4 million to a range of projects across the community.
Earlier in the year, the Association of Bermuda Insurers & Reinsurers (ABIR) reported that its member companies had donated $3.1 million to Bermudian charities in the first six months of the year.
Athene Life Re and its parent Athene Holding, the retirement services company and a BILTIR member, is particularly active in its engagement with local community projects in Bermuda. It is particularly focused on education as a way to support the Island’s longer term economic development, and with an eye on enlightened self-interest: investing in Bermuda’s education creates a larger and deeper pool of local graduates from which it hopes to hire employees who could one day become industry leaders.
“The scholarships are awarded based on academic merit and financial need, and recipients must achieve the minimum GPA requirement at the end of each semester.”
Natasha Scotland Courcy, general counsel, chief compliance officer and co-chief operating officer at Athene Life Re, notes that Athene’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) strategy has always had a focus on education.
“We believe that giving all children the opportunity of a solid education is a great foundation for Bermuda’s economic development,” she says.
“Athene believes that every child deserves a strong education. That will ultimately benefit Bermuda’s economy and its workforce,” she adds. “Bermuda has a strong public and private school system that already gives its children access to a good education. That is a significant advantage for its economy.”
Athene Life Re was part of a group of re/insurers that donated $3.5 million to the Bermuda College Foundation to create a Career Development Centre at Bermuda College, alongside Athora, Aspen Insurance, and Catalina.
Scotland Courcy says: “The Career Development Centre at the Bermuda College is a very important resource for students, faculty and the community as a whole. Once completed it will provide increased access to workforce development and training, Prometric Certified assessment required for professional development, and an expanded technology infrastructure that allows for research and development of innovative concepts.”
The centre plugs some gaps that existed in Bermuda’s resources that meant some forms of training could not be delivered locally. “There are some exams—actuarial, human resources and accounting—that Bermuda has lacked the facilities to offer locally; students have had to take them overseas,” explains Scotland Courcy.
“The Prometric Certified testing centre which will form part of the centre will allow students now to take those exams in Bermuda.”
Tomorrow’s actuaries and risk managers
Another initiative that illustrates Athene Life Re’s focus on education is the Athene Scholarship, which it offers in partnership with Bermuda College. The scholarship provides students with the full costs for their tuition and textbooks. It is the largest scholarship of its kind at the college and will be awarded to 10 students at Bermuda College each academic year, having started in 2019.
The scholarships are awarded based on academic merit and financial need, and recipients must achieve the minimum GPA requirement at the end of each semester to continue receiving support. Qualifying candidates must be pursuing degrees in accounting, actuarial science, business, economics, finance, human resources, information technology, insurance and risk management, legal studies, or mathematics.
In 2020 the scholarships were awarded to Cairi Albuoy, Ne Quae Jones, Samaria Paynter, Tanzania Thomas, Ken-nie Trott and Skye White studying business administration; Atiya Furqan, Stefan Wilson and Nisha Smith studying actuarial science; and Jordan DeSilva, studying computer information systems.
Phyllis Curtis-Tweed, vice president of academic and student affairs at Bermuda College, says: “The scholarship program will make a significant difference in the lives of the recipients as they pursue higher education. The work study programs and internships provide experiential learning that best equips students for success in the workplace. This partnership is of great benefit to our community.”
Athene is also working closely with Bermuda College to develop a paid internship programme to help students gain necessary professional skills to fill the talent gap in the actuarial and financial services industry.
Meanwhile, in September Athene donated 200 laptops to the Bermuda Public School System, which follows a donation of 100 laptops in 2018, exemplifying Athene’s focus on targeting educational initiatives that benefit Bermuda’s students. The donation supports the Ministry of Education’s strategic plan to modernise the public school learning environment to ensure Bermuda’s youth have cutting-edge technological tools they need to participate in the global economy.
Scotland Courcy says: “While education is a primary focus, our donations are not all geared towards education, especially this year given the COVID-19 crisis.
“We have given $30,000 to the Coalition for the Protection of Children, which provides food and other necessities to children and families affected by this crisis, and we led a coalition that gave $400,000 to purchase eight ventilators in Bermuda’s hospitals.”
The firm donated $25,000 to the Third Sector Coordinated Crisis Response in Bermuda to help provide essential items for vulnerable populations.