Bermuda must unify to prosper
Financial complacency, insecurity, and excellence juxtaposed. We Bermudians tend to suffer from the extremes of a bipolar social syndrome. At times, we’ve committed the national sin of arrogance and self-confidence in “our special place on this earth” beyond the realm of financial reality. At other times, across our community, we still spend inordinate amounts of energy whining about our faults, our national insecurities, flagellating ourselves, while beating everyone else up, verbally.
We are at a critical juncture as to what we need to be as a country. We are, individually, and collectively, at a turning-point decision for who we personally want to be as a people.
As we head into the end of this decade, it is worthwhile to consider again, where we were, and what we have accomplished financially as an international finance centre. There is no need to elaborate on the mistakes that might have been made; actions not taken, or those inadvertently insufficient. We know only too well, what those are.
The better decision is to try our best to do better.
We look to our leaders now to make thoughtful, community beneficially appropriate policy and financial decisions for the good of the country. We want them to set the course by a True Star Light and guide us into another era of prosperity for everyone.
We, as a people, too, must continue to invest in ourselves, our families, our careers, our community, and our country. We must do this in exemplary fashion. Our very future depends upon the attitude and aptitude of all of us to set our upward course to that True Star.
How are we going to this?
One definitive personal challenge — increasing our financial knowledge of all aspects of our local and international investment environment. For instance, do you know what investments are listed on the Bermuda Stock Exchange? Can you explain what our international companies do? Or, what an insurance-linked security is?
What about your own personal finances? Almost everyone in the workforce has an invested pension, yet, the end result, choosing a distribution option, such as an annuity, that will affect the rest of your days, is not well understood.
Twenty-two years ago, when my husband Paul and I moved back to my Bermuda home to live, work, and provide support to my family and elderly relatives, first impressions were overwhelming. We were in the middle of the Atlantic, a dot in the ocean, host to a cutting-edge insurance industry, operating in high gear. Wow!
It was extraordinary thinking to try to compare this level of financial activity to a comparative landmass and population, in a small New England town.
There was no comparison. Bermuda possesses enormous intellectual, individual talent in both our domestic and international businesses. Investments are ever-changing and innovating.
We have to keep up. There is no choice of falling behind.
Everything, economic entities and personal finances, are about investments. A fact often forgotten is that Bermuda was considered an investment asset owned by a company with nine shareholders, way back when, and yes, the company had to pay dividends derived from the labour of survivalist Bermuda settlers of the time.
I quote a couple of paragraphs verifying the role of investments in our lives from an outstanding book, Investment; A History by Norton Reamer and Jesse Downing, Columbia Business School Publishing.
“Investment touches virtually every aspect of life today. It underpins our entire economic engine. It is a vital determinant of what projects are funded; how individuals form collectives like companies, institutions, or unions; where in the world capital flows in and out; and when enterprises merge, disaggregate, or dissolve lines of activity.
“Investment is more than its purely monetary manifestations. It is intertwined inextricably with social ends: the prospect of home ownership, savings accumulation to finance education, and the health of the endowments of charities.
“Investment affects unemployment, the ability of seniors to retire, the funds deployed to infrastructure and research, and so importantly, the capacity of a government to access credit markets.”
I’m just a humble writer and can’t begin to provide illumination on public policy, but I can discourse, and will continue to provide useful and helpful financial information that I have espoused in writing this weekly column since March 1, 2000. The column number has recently toppled over the 1,000-article mark with those published by The Royal Gazette in Bermuda and in the international press.
Most recently, a culmination of a life career mission to author a series of financial knowledge books, focused specifically on Bermuda’s legal, financial, and regulatory environment. These interactive digital books feature interviews and observations via print narratives, podcasts and brief videos with Bermuda islanders.
Moneywise is now looking for individual volunteers experienced in currency and/or bond trading, and internal treasury operations. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
My thanks and gratitude go out to every reader who has bothered to read these articles, called me to comment or criticise, sent me e-mails of encouragement or dismissal, asked for assistance, offered guidance and relevant information.
I have been happy to receive all input because it means topics have stimulated financial dialogue and encouraged personal courage in assuming greater financial responsibility. Moneywise will continue to feature from time-to-time real financial experiences from real people (all situations completely disguised) where you, dear readers, provide feedback. Please send me an e-mail, if you are interested, email@example.com
We are heading sooner than you think to the end of this unbelievably challenging, devastating year.
We have our work cut out for us.
Time to set some goals, make some wishes, and look towards this New Year with hope, hard work, and ultimately positive rewards in an upward trajectory economy.
Martha Harris Myron, CPA JSM, a native Bermudian, is creator of Pondstraddler Life Financial Perspectives, international financial consultant to the Olderhood Group Ltd Bermuda, and financial columnist to The Royal Gazette. All proceeds from these articles are donated to the Salvation Army, Bermuda