Family Office concept the way forward
Bermuda is in an economic crisis caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, and in recognition that this is not the time for business as usual, the Government has called for innovative solutions to revive our economy.
First and foremost, we need new sources of capital from outside the country to invest in Bermuda. But how are we going to attract those with capital and ideas to come here? Every country is looking for the same thing and the competition is fierce.
Some time ago, we presented a new vision for Caroline Bay. We called it the Family Office Plan. Extremely wealthy families, those whose net worth is hundreds of millions or billions of dollars, manage their money like a corporation. They form companies that manage such things as their investments, insurance, taxes, charitable donations, as well as their personal property, security and family matters.
They have found it is more economic to employ their own teams rather than pay large fees to private banks and other financial firms. They call these companies family offices.
Bermuda offers a safe, secure, convenient location and legally beneficial jurisdiction from which family offices can operate. As these things exist already, why have not more set up in Bermuda? We need to offer more to attract them; of particular importance to many is residence, such as permanent residence for the whole family to provide security of tenure in Bermuda.
Our plan is to create a special economic zone at Caroline Bay for family offices. In exchange for receiving permanent residency for the family, the family would incorporate their office in Bermuda. As permanent residents, the family's wealth and inheritance is governed and taxed under Bermuda law.
To get these benefits, the family office would be required to do certain things. It would purchase real estate or a residential unit in the economic zone for its family residences.
It would also be required to hire Bermudians as part of its workforce. It must also rent a reasonably sized office. And it would be required to invest in the community.
A set of funds would be set up — one for charitable giving on island and others to channel investments into the local economy.
Because of its unique setting, Caroline Bay can provide a secure community for the families and related hospitality and club facilities, service support and other amenities. These families, because of their extreme wealth, would employ a range of individuals. Some would be investment professionals, some administrative and others seeing to the personal needs of the family. Those on work permits would rent homes, buy cars, put their children in school, dine in our local restaurants, contribute positively to our healthcare system, and our community at large, all while providing additional revenue to the Government.
This expanded business opportunity is designed to provide tangible benefits to our economy. Additionally and crucially, with the addition of family offices as an industry, fund managers, investment firms and other service providers will come as a result, meaning there will be even more opportunity for Bermudians — helping some of those who have left the island in search of better opportunities overseas to return home.
The benefits for Bermuda from becoming a home of wealth:
• Increase in stamp-duty revenue for the Government
• New ARV contributors each year from each new home
• Rental of office space. This will provide new jobs in the financial community
• Increase in construction jobs
• Expansion in the number of jobs in the economy
• Bermuda will be further enhanced as an international financial centre
• New asset managers and financial services companies to service the single-family offices
• New company and trust formation and administration
• Numerous people each year from the family office and investment community visiting Bermuda for board meetings, general meetings and conferences, bringing a major boost to business tourism
• Increase in the general economy from more people on the island using restaurants, retail, service providers, and new entrepreneurial opportunities for Bermudians
• Being home for the wealthy enhances the image of the country and creates an attraction, which can bring general tourism to a new level.
According to Wealth-X, there are more than 18,000 family offices or ultra-high net wealth families around the world with a net worth above $100 million.
We should be able to attract 1 per cent to 2 per cent of them to Caroline Bay. The resulting economic impact would be enormous and the number of new residents would be small and in fact much smaller than the number of residents who have left the island over the past ten years.
Implementing the Family Office Plan would bring billions of investment into Bermuda, be a significant source of new employment, fill up vacant office space, bring back the real estate market, revitalise the construction and hospitality industries, fund our charities and help to reduce government debt.
This idea made sense even before the crisis. Now it is urgent that we move to implement it.
• Brian Duperreault is the chairman of Caroline Bay Ltd