BFIS offered more scholarships in tight year for finances
The Bermuda Foundation For Insurance Studies (BFIS) managed to provide more scholarships this year, despite seeing its finances come under pressure because of persistent low interest rates.
The organisation, which offers financial help for the further education of Bermudians interested in a career in the insurance industry, held its annual general meeting last week.
“The global economic crisis and its effect on the local insurance industry has made for a very challenging year, but BFIS has managed to offer the same level of scholarships and support for our intern and mentor programmes, all the while being cognizant of managing our expenses,” BFIS chairman Michael Fisher said.
“Like most investors we saw a significant decline in the value of our conservatively structured Investment Fund over the past few years and this has caused us much concern. I am pleased to say that the hard work of our Finance Committee and the advice of our investment adviser have helped us recoup a significant share of that previously lost value.”
Mr Fisher, managing principal of Integro (Bermuda), went on to say: “This year the board initially thought that we might have to reduce the scholarship budget as we were uncertain as to how heavily we would have to draw down against the Investment Fund.
“In the end, though, we could not ignore the increased number and consistently high level of academic performance of the scholarship applicants, and in fact we committed to providing even more scholarships. This included the first time granting of two graduate scholarships.
”BFIS awarded 13 scholarships this year worth a total of $530,000, bringing the number of current scholars to 20 (18 under-graduate and two post-graduate students) at universities in the US, Canada and the UK.”
He added that the BFIS office had seen a significant increase in the number of enquiries from the community.
“The enquiries originated from parents, high school and under-graduate students, guidance counsellors, career changers and those looking to gain post-graduate degrees,” Mr Fisher said.
He noted that an integral part of BFIS is the volunteer help it receives from within the industry, not only from those who serve on its committees, but the many people who are called on to give advice and make presentations to those interested in careers in insurance.
At the lunch following the AGM, Michael Butt, chairman of Axis Capital and a founding member of BFIS, said he was delighted with what BFIS was accomplishing in helping Bermudian students gain the education and training necessary for careers in Bermuda's insurance industry.
He went on to say: “With over 100 scholarships having been awarded and over 75 graduates now working in insurance, it is a good start, but Bermuda needs to continue to invest in the education necessary for careers in the industry.”