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Insurance interns home in on growth area

Industry insight: some of the Biltir interns who started the 10-week programme this week. Also pictured is Scott Selkirk, second row far left), of Somerset Reinsurance, who led the first orientation session (Photograph by Scott Neil)

It is the less noticed side of Bermuda’s insurance and reinsurance sector, but it is growing and Bermuda graduates and college and university students are taking note.

Eighteen of them have been selected for the Bermuda International Long Term Insurers and Reinsurers’ internship programme, which is now in its second year.

This week they took part in an orientation session at the start of the 10-week programme, gaining an overview of the life insurance sector on the island.

While companies in the property and casualty insurance space have greater prominence, Biltir members are engaged in a sector that is growing as the world’s population ages.

Taiyana Allen, who graduated from Jersey State University with a bachelor’s of actuarial science, said: “P&C is pushed really hard in Bermuda, but there is a whole life sector and it’s very interesting.

“I’m hoping to get more experience in the life industry, and life reinsurance.”

She is an intern with Wilton Re, and will be returning to university to study for a bachelor’s in finance. She hopes having two degrees, spanning finance and actuarial science, will boost her career prospects in the life insurance sector.

Underscoring the growth of the sector, last year there were 15 new life insurance company licences issued by the Bermuda Monetary Authority. Biltir members have 540 Bermuda-based staff, of whom 40 per cent are Bermudian or the spouse of a Bermudian.

Biltir members annually donate about $1.5 million to island charities, and have $200 million in direct Bermuda expenditures each year.

Scott Selkirk, managing director of pricing at Somerset Reinsurance, led the orientation session for the interns.

He said: “It’s a good opportunity for them to get an introduction to the long-term sector. They have grown up in Bermuda hearing about the P&C industry. They are very close to asking ‘what am I going to do for a job?’

“We want them to know that we have grown a lot over the last few years. Biltir started off as five companies in 2011, we are now at 60.”

He said Biltir members make up 15 per cent of licensed companies in Bermuda’s insurance economy, but in terms of assets under management they are bigger than the P&C companies.

“We are a big industry that has grown a lot recently, so we want to make sure that they are aware of that as an option.”

During the internship programme, the students gain day to day exposure to the responsibilities of accountants and actuaries. Once a week there is a lunch and learn session hosted by a Biltir member, where the interns learn about specific aspects of the industry and get a “high level picture” of what the industry does.

There were 10 interns in the inaugural programme last year, this year there are 18.

Mr Selkirk said: “It has grown. The member companies have seen the benefit, and there are some companies with multiple students. It is good to see.”

Intern Nikye Atherden has graduated from Western University, in Ontario, where he studied economics. He has ambitions to be an actuary.

He said: “I want some real world experience. I’m now working at AIA Re with some actuaries, that’s giving me some actual exposure into what actually goes on.

“This is my first practical experience outside of university. It’s been good so far, I’ve got to meet people my age.”

Meagan Stecko, an intern with KPMG, is studying actuarial sciences at Western University. She said: “I didn’t know too much about Biltir because I am interested in the property and casualty side of actuarial profession, so this is an insight for me to see what options there are in the professions and to learn and expand my knowledge as much as I can before going into the industry.”

Nisha Smith, an intern at Hannover Life Re, is a student at Bermuda College and took a liking to the role of accountants as part of her business administration studies.

“My teacher referred me to Biltir. I’ve been to a few insurance courses to get more information about it,” she said.

“I’m doing this internship to get more knowledge on life insurance, and maybe next year do P&C. I’m trying to network and get more information”

The other interns are Nicolas Araujo (Somerset Re); Asia Atienza (Legal & General Re); Cyana Burgess (Global Atlantic Re); Jordyn Morris (Global Atlantic Re); Kaelena Daniels (EY); Christina Joynes (EY); Tyler Irby (Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada); Breon Neverson (Sun Life Assurance Company of Canada); Alex Godet (Athene Life Re); Ken-nie Trott (Athene Life Re); Cani Swan (Athene Life Re); Jalen Wales (Hannover Life Re); Imani Smith (Monument Re); and Darren Trott (F & G Re).

Wenda Roberts, Biltir’s corporate administrator, said: “We are excited to be offering college students summer internships for the second year in Biltir member companies. We hope that more young Bermudians will consider the life sector post-graduation. This is the perfect opportunity for the young interns to gain first-hand experience of the life reinsurance sector and to forge important professional connections.”

Intern opportunities were listed on the Biltir website and the successful applicants were vetted, interviewed and selected by their host company.

Biltir has a website at https://www.biltir.bm/