Biltir celebrates ten years and says the best is yet to come
Bermuda’s economy and community have benefited from the remarkable growth and advocacy of an insurance industry organisation that today celebrates its tenth anniversary.
And the best is yet to come, according to leading figures of the Bermuda International Long Term Insurers and Reinsurers.
During the past decade, Biltir collaborated with the Bermuda Monetary Authority to help the island achieve Solvency II equivalence with the European Union. The association represents Bermuda’s life and annuity industry, and it has been involved in policy discussions and providing feedback on regulatory requirements, working with the BMA and the Government.
And following an accord issued by G7 finance ministers this month, Biltir is closely watching developments relating to possible changes to the global tax system to assess any impact on the industry.
As Biltir marked its anniversary, Frank “Chip” Gillis, who was its first chairman in 2011, said he is encouraged for the future. He told The Royal Gazette: “Innovation is the driver, serving market needs is the driver, and projecting five years out, I think the industry will double.”
Sylvia Oliveira, current chairwoman of Biltir, said: “I’m optimistic because of the accomplishments we have made, and the amount of demand out there. Our primary market is retirees, and that generation is growing. The demand for our products will continue to grow.”
Biltir started in June 2011 with five member companies, and now represents 61 who together employ more than 600 people on the island, the majority Bermudians.
Ten years ago, the long-term sector’s assets under management totalled $158 billion. It is estimated that total topped $600 billion last year, with Biltir member companies managing the majority.
The organisation and its member companies provide support to other parts of the island’s economy, and help young Bermudians learn about the sector and the opportunities available, including through Biltir’s scholarships and internships.
Mr Gillis cofounded retirement services company Athene Holding Ltd, and is a former chief executive officer of Athene Life Re. He said Biltir had brought many positives for Bermuda, such as “the people we employ, ancillary benefits supporting other professionals and the general public, and reaching out – internships, reaching into schools”.
This week, 18 young Bermudians started learning about the long-term life and insurance sector in a two-month paid internship programme organised by Biltir.
Ms Oliveira said: “The slate of candidates was so impressive – they are very focused on pursing a career in insurance. The momentum is occurring, all the work we have done going into the schools and telling the students about our sector has paid off.”
She said there are interesting careers in the long-term sector, with work is very closely related to investments and understanding investment markets.
Ms Oliveira added: “There’s a lot of actuarial, mathematical work, but also technical and legal, so support roles are required. There are several opportunities I would say for young Bermudians to enter our sector.”
Mr Gillis said: “It’s the long-term sector – that means we are taking on liabilities that are 30 and 40-year liabilities. Someone is going to be in Bermuda managing that 30 years from now. So if you think about a career, it is a tremendous path. If you find a passion within the various disciplines that need to be part of it then you have a terrific career within the industry. It is an industry that is going to continue to grow.”
Biltir has been congratulated by a number of individuals and organisations on its achievements and reaching its 10-year anniversary.
David Burt, the Premier, said: “We are grateful for Biltir's commitment to our island and its significant contributions to our economy, public education, and the third sector."
Marc Grandisson, chairman of the Association of Bermuda Insurers and Reinsurers, congratulated Biltir on its efforts to build out the jurisdiction for life and annuity companies.
Patrick Tannock, chairman of the Association of Bermuda International Companies, said Biltir’s members were invested in Bermuda, providing hundreds of jobs and supporting education programs and the career aspirations of our young people.
Stephen Weinstein, chairman of the Bermuda Business Development Association, said: “The long-term sector is a successful and growing part of Bermuda’s thriving international business landscape, supported by and reinforcing Bermuda’s deep, diverse pool of human capital; sophisticated, fit for purpose regulatory regime, and unsurpassed access to key global markets.”
Ms Oliveira said Biltir has been set up to be “a consistent and coherent voice for the industry, to advocate on regulatory, policy and tax matters”.
As momentum increases for changes to the global tax system following this month’s G7 summit, Biltir is monitoring developments. Ms Oliveira said that until there is a better understanding of the details “it is hard to determine what will be the ultimate impact on our industry”.
Mr Gillis said: “There have been some interesting comments made about some of the proposals. I think we are moving from the OECD to groups like the G7 and others – you end up shifting to politics. Politics is going to influence the changes from the very strong proposals that have been made.”
He said customers ultimately benefited from what the sector provided, and warned: “I would say, employ this globally and there is going to be a retirement tax. We are taking on long liabilities in the retirement sector, and to price those appropriately if we have to pay more tax, then we are going to adjust our pricing.”
Reflecting on Biltir’s first decade, and looking to its future. Mr Gillis said: “When we started Biltir it was driven by encouragement from the BMA for a central voice to represent the life and annuity sector to collaborate over regulatory enhancements. The outcome is a reflection of great leadership, attracting stronger innovative professionals, all to serve the growing needs of a global market. Our growth is impressive, but the best is yet to come.”