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We have to put Bermuda back on the map

I had the good fortune of attending the Sandys Rotary Club‘s 40th Anniversary Gala last weekend and along with that blessing came the privilege of hearing guest speaker Keith Fitz-Gerald.The global financial expert is a New York Times bestselling business author and an inspirational speaker.The most important thing I think he said was ”money goes where it is treated best“.A lot of our money left Bermuda and I submit to you that it is largely because we did not treat it well.His presentation took my mind back to university. As a business student, I learned a concept called the product life cycle.His comments led me to consider that Bermuda as a brand is sort of at the sales decline stage of its PLC. Therefore, if we are to right this ship, generate additional revenue and make our economy stronger, we have to implement the kind of strategies that businesses use at that point.Strategies considered would include reinventing the brand, generating new revenue streams, diversifying into new industries, businesses, product lines and services, selling to new markets, solidifying the existing customer base and cost-cutting and defensive advertising.Mr Fitz-Gerald described India and China as “ripe markets” that would continue to be major players in the coming years.We should definitely be looking to Asia because on sheer numbers of populations this has to now be called the Eastern resource area. In the old days they said ”go West young man“, perhaps nowadays we should go East.There are 1.3 billion people living in China and 1.2 billion in India. This compares with 313 million people living in the USA. By 2050 it is predicted that the populations of those same three places will be 1.3 billion in China, 1.6 billion in India and 330 million in the States.These numbers underscore the opportunity that exists to the East. I say we should focus on both but definitely start positioning ourselves to take advantage of the population mass of Asia and the endless possibilities this offers.We have to put Bermuda back on the map folks. I submit that we have fallen off the radar and don’t really have an identity any more. Before the 1990s Bermuda was known as a tourism destination.By 1995 we were a fully fledged international business, financial services, asset management and captive centre. Now that both industries have imploded somewhat, some 4000 people have left Bermuda and we have had four consecutive years of negative growth. I don’t know what we are known for at the moment or what Bermuda’s identity might be, in the eyes of the world, our potential leisure travellers, business travellers or investors.So let’s create a new identity. Let’s become a nation that is rebuilding both pillars of its economy and adding new ones wherever we can.Let’s remember the lessons from Mr Fitz-Gerald, who said that ”money goes where it is treated best“. If we want to grow our economy, we have to attract people here. The way to attract people with money here is not to have policies that make people feel like we think we are doing them a favour by allowing them to be here.That is the worst type of customer service and I now understand why so many people in the workforce act this way. They learned it from persons who had a stance and an attitude towards our high-net-worth and job-creator clients that basically said, ”We are doing you a favour by letting you be our client and live and work in Bermuda.“In reality they were doing us a favour by spending their money here when they could have spent it elsewhere. So eventually they listened to our unwelcoming stance and some have left.With 4000 fewer people on the Island, we may now have 1,000 or more apartments that are no longer being rented at inflated prices. Funny thing is that some silly landlords still expect to be able to rent their dwellings at the prices they charged up until 2010!Lastly, let’s not try to adapt the world to Bermuda, let’s adapt Bermuda to the new world reality. This means getting over our xenophobia and being more welcoming to guests in our Country. Don’t get it twisted; I’m still all for Bermudians and we must not be disadvantaged, but there is a way that we can be welcoming, hospitable, inviting and enticing to foreign money without losing our dignity, ourselves and our Country in the process. Some people think the two are mutually exclusive but I say no, they are not. We can and must do both.I’m reminded of Minister Bob Richards‘ recent brilliant and true statement: ”A job is the best social programme ever created.“Attracting foreign money and people will create jobs for Bermudians.We cannot spend our way out of this economic slump because we have no money. We must work our way out. We must cut costs in Government, somehow, some way. There is a way and we have to find it without firing people as they will just end up drawing financial assistance.If we are serious about getting foreign money and people back and investing heavily into Bermuda, we must improve our standard of customer service and the work ethic of the Bermudian labour force.We must amend our policies and laws so that it is much easier to set up a business and a family in Bermuda than is currently the case. We should look at our competition and see how easy it is to set up a shop and a family in Cayman, Dubai, Ireland, etc. If our deal isn’t competitive they will not come but will go elsewhere because money goes where it is treated best!The Top 20Up to #1 is Right Now by Rihanna and David Guetta.Holding at the top of the pops is Thrift Shop by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis featuring Wanz.Up to #3 is Scream and Shout by will.i.am and Britney Spears.Improving to #4 is Don’t You Worry Child, by the Swedish House Mafia featuring John Martin.On the way up at #5 is F*ckn Problems by A$ap Rocky.Slipping to #6 is Don’t Stop the Party, by Pitbull.Up to #7 is Bring it to Me Kes and the Band.Improving to #8 is She Ready by Machel MontanoOn the way up at #9 is Nah Go Change (One Cent) by DemarcoImproving to #10 is Surge by Clockwork featuring Wynter Gordon, a former essential new tune.Falling to #11 is Beauty and a Beat by Justin Bieber and Nicky Minaj.Stay, by Rihanna, improves to #12.Up to #13 is Drive Me Crazy by Beenie Man.Quantum leaping to #14 is Suit and Tie, by Justin Timberlake and Jay-Z.Jumping to #15 is Let it Go, a new one from Beres Hammond.Sliding to #16 is Locked Out Of Heaven by Bruno Mars.Improving to #17 is Harlem Shake by Bauer, last week’s essential new tune. 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