BDA hopes to attract new bank
Bermuda could be in line for a new name in banking, it was revealed yesterday.
The news came after a round-table discussion on the state of the Bermuda captive market at the record-breaking Bermuda Captive Conference.
Ross Webber, CEO of the Bermuda Business Development Agency, said: “We are talking to some banks, and they are household names, we're talking right now.
“We're hopeful at least one of them will set up some private banking and some extra corporate banking options.”
Mr Webber was speaking after a round-table discussion on the trends in the captive market and its future at the Bermuda Captive Conference,
The conference, which passed the 800-delegate mark for the first time, earlier heard from Alan Gier, president and chairman of General International Ltd and vice-president of the Bermuda Captive Owners Association, who said, in response to a question on what Bermuda needed to do better, that the island needed more choice in banking.
Mr Gier said: “Maybe one of the areas would be some banking options. There are only three on the island, or three that I know of, that's the thing that probably most interests me at the moment.
He added, however: “But our experience has been very positive — we haven't had a lot of issues we haven't been able to sort through them.”
Mr Webber said afterwards: “I completely agree. Any new banks that on island, of course, need to be vetted by the Ministry of Finance and the Bermuda Monetary Authority.
“I hear this request for companies that are already here, as well as from new companies coming in.
“It's unquestionable that people want more banks, both on the corporate side and the private bank side.”
Mr Webber added that the key factor for any new banking presence is that they are in line with the island's strict rules on transparency and up to speed in areas like anti-money laundering and antiterrorism financing.
He said the important thing was that any new players “don't embarrass the jurisdiction”.
He added that major banks pulling out of areas perceived to be high risk, like some parts of the Caribbean, presented a chance for Bermuda to attract more business.
Mr Webber said: “This presents a very good opportunity for Bermuda to capitalise on a flight to quality.
“With the contraction of a very large number of banking operations in the Caribbean, it's a good opportunity to augment our already prestigious destination.”
And he added existing island banks would welcome competition.
Mr Webber said: “The answers I have been given from the higher echelons of both HSBC and Butterfield have been ‘bring it on' — they haven't been resistant at all, which is encouraging.”
Mr Gier added that his company had been trying to streamline the number of banks it has relationships with.
He said: “We don't have a relationship with a bank on the island. We had to get a deviation from our policy group. We haven't run into that in other parts of the world.
“If they were more bank options that would alleviate that problem.”
But he added he was unsure if the problem might put other companies off Bermuda.
Mr Gier said: “I don't know if they have that concern or if it is a problem. But for some companies it is.”
And he added that more competition in the sector would benefit bank clients.
The conference was opened by Michael Dunkley, the Premier, who told delegates: “You'll already know that you are doing business with the finest captive professionals in the world — not just the excellent captive and insurance managers, but also the accountants, lawyers, bankers, brokers and other individuals who make up our industry.
“Our leading insurance professionals are known for their innovation and exceptional service and you can be assured that you are part of a vibrant Bermuda market.
“We have globally respected risk-based regulation with an accessible and proactive regulator.”
He added: “We're proud of our blue-chip jurisdiction — a place where people with world-class talent work for innovative companies that are fulfilling a critical role in the worldwide economy.”
The Premier also joined conference chairman David Gibbons in presenting the Bermuda Captive Hall of Fame awards to 16 companies.
And Jill Husbands, head of office and managing director of Marsh Bermuda, was awarded the first Fred Reiss Lifetime Achievement Award.
The conference held at the Fairmont Southampton, which started yesterday and runs until tomorrow, pulled in not only a record number of delegates, but 70 sponsors and was responsible for booking a total of 900 bed nights in island hotels.