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What you should know about international business

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Dear Sir,

As a former expatriate resident in Bermuda, I do not have a vote in the upcoming election, and neither would I wish to influence any Bermuda voters.

I do, however, have a very strong liking and loyalty towards Bermuda and Bermudians. So I would like to relate something that happened to me some years ago that I feel is relevant to the present political debate in Bermuda.

In 2004, I was working for Bank of Bermuda when I was asked to assist a young Bermudian MBA student who was employed on a project to discover what our customers actually thought of the bank. She was very surprised when I explained that she should canvass the opinions of the partners in the relatively small number of international accounting and legal firms who were involved in advising the set-up of hedge-fund and private-equity fund vehicles, and of private trust structures.

And that the fund administration and private trustee businesses of the bank were responsible for most of the treasury, loan, foreign exchange and deposit-derived revenues for the bank — essentially the bulk of its income.

I remember her exclaiming: “Bermudians need to know this; they think Bank of Bermuda only makes its money from Bermuda!”.

The reason why I relate this story is that if a well-qualified Bermudian did not understand how a large Bermudian financial institution earned its profits, then what chance have the majority of Bermudians to understand this?

Sadly, in the present election, I do not see any honest debate, or even explanation, as to how Bermuda earns its income. Bermudian voters really need to understood how vital international business is to their welfare, and how it feeds through the entire Bermuda economy to provide paid employment throughout the island — rents, hotel visitors, restaurants and shops, tradesmen, banks, other professional services, etc — and furthermore what international business needs from Bermuda to be attracted to your island.

So please someone in the political arena, stand up and explain how the economy of Bermuda used to be so successful and how it can be so successful again in the future. It isn't simply a question of “education for the sake of education”; it really is a matter of economic survival.

The good people of Bermuda need to know.

RICHARD BOUTLAND

Morganville, New Jersey

Photograph by Zaroi Ratteray

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Published September 28, 2020 at 8:00 am (Updated September 28, 2020 at 2:02 pm)

What you should know about international business

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