Bermuda is dead, long live Bermuda

I wrote the following some time ago and contemplated submitting it to the Royal Gazette or Bernews but never got around to it.  Might as well post it here vs. letting it languish.


“The king is dead, long live the king” is an old saying which meant that the king has died and it is hoped that the new king will live a long time.

Bermuda is dead.  The insurance industry is moving from a period of growth to consolidation.  Job growth remains a dream and not a reality.  The Great Recession still plagues us as our economy has more in common with that of Greece than our American neighbor.   Innovation is lacking and we remain behind the curve.  Bermuda, once a world leader, has stagnated.  This needs to change.

A growing chorus of voices cry out in anguish at the need for a new pillar of our economy.  Many understand the problem but few offer real solutions.  Some believe we need a task force, commission or committee founded to investigate and propose solutions.  The risk, as always with navigating by committee, is that we continue to plot our course toward obsolescence through all talk and no action.

We cannot remain behind the curve. We cannot falsely imagine that we can be “the next Silicon Valley” like every other struggling jurisdiction aims to be.  If we try to copy our way to success we’ll continue to be the last to arrive to the party.  We must emulate a small island nation that so wholly captured an industry others strive to emulate it.  Others are in awe as they too try to become the next “Bermuda of Insurance”.   We must achieve this again with a new industry and once again don our crown as “the Bermuda” of that industry.

As the Royal Gazette noted in a recent editorial, we became leaders in insurance because we created a streamlined regulatory environment which allowed companies like ACE to get to market quickly.  This is a fundamental truth.  In order to lead the world in an industry we must minimize regulatory hurdles and make ourselves the most attractive domicile for that industry.  The entire island must then be rallied in support of that industry.  Period.

There are no shortages of potential industries.  However, we must be certain that we are willing to accept and embrace the risk, sacrifice and controversy that the success of any industry we choose requires.  Someone will become “the Bermuda” of aquaculture, managing the environmental risks that come with it.  Someone will become “the Bermuda” of stem cell research, managing the moral risks.  Someone will become “the Bermuda” of driverless cars, risking the livelihood of taxi drivers and managing the liability unknowns of artificially controlled machines.  Someone will become “the Bermuda” of bitcoin, of aerial drones, and so forth.

Ideas are easy.  Establishing a vision that will deliver value and then executing on it to completion is the hard part.  In order to reinvent itself Bermuda must approach a new industry with the zeal, tenacity and panache used to attract the Grand Slam or the America’s Cup.  We must take a minimalist approach to regulation, focusing only on necessities and steering clear of bureaucracy and red tape.  We must create an environment that incubates that industry to success by ensuring there are no hurdles to investment or the ability to attract the bright minds required to create it.

We must accept that Bermuda as we’ve come to know it is dead.  We cannot stand in the way of our own success and must be willing to embrace and manage the risks.  We must focus on putting the long term interests of Bermudians ahead of our short term interests.  We must throw open the doors to welcome and embrace champions of new industries who can help return us to triumph.   Like the succession of a monarch, Bermuda must once again rise above as a world leading example of how to capture an industry.

Bermuda is dead.  Long live Bermuda.