Toronto forum visit highlights business opportunities
executives turned out for Bermuda’s first multi-industry forum in Canada, part
of a delegation’s visit to Toronto this week that included meetings with
corporate and civic leaders highlighting bilateral business opportunities.
Among the meetings, Finance Minister Curtis Dickinson sat down with his Ontario counterpart, Victor Fedeli, at the provincial politician’s Queen’s Park office. Their hour-long discussion covered mutual economic links and opportunities between Bermuda and the province, from insurance and financial services to the growth and future impact of artificial intelligence and other disruptive technologies.
“The meeting with Minister Fedeli was insightful: it underscored all we have in common and the potential opportunities we have to work together going forward,” said Dickinson, who was accompanied by Assistant Financial Secretary Stephen Gift, Bermuda Business Development Agency (BDA) CEO Andy Burrows, and Honorary Consul of Canada in Bermuda, Isabelle Ramsay-Brackstone. “It also allowed us to re-engage and build on the historic Bermuda-Canada relationship that has extended over centuries.”
“We discussed areas of common interest like insurance, and ways we can work more closely together for the benefit of both Bermuda and Ontario,” said Fedeli, who moved to become Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade and Chair of Cabinet in an Ontario Cabinet shuffle announced just a day later. “Ontario has taken an ‘Open for Business, Open for Jobs’ approach, and building stronger relationships with important partners like Bermuda will allow our province to expand the economy and grow our exports.”
The meeting was part of a busy schedule arranged by the BDA around its Executive Forum in Toronto, where more than 120 delegates attended a full day of panel discussions and networking opportunities Wednesday aimed at showcasing Bermuda’s breadth of industries and world-class expertise. The forum was the agency’s sixth in a series, following successful events in London, New York and Miami over the past two years.
“Insurance, fintech, tourism…people we’ve met here all have a vested interest in the jurisdiction and are genuinely interested in working with us,” said BDA Director and EY Bermuda Partner Jessel Mendes. “Everyone’s keenly focused on looking for opportunities and leveraging advantages and relationships Bermuda already has, including our beneficial Tax Information Exchange Agreement (TIEA). There’s a lot of common ground linking Canada and Bermuda, and many ingredients for our joint success.”
One forum highlight was a fireside chat-style conversation between Minister Dickinson and Phyllis Yaffe, the Consul General of Canada in New York, who discussed geopolitical uncertainty, innovation diversity, and the historic and continuing bonds between both countries, including financial services. Canada is one of Bermuda’s most significant economic partners, with two-way trade between the two nations amounting to US$2.6 billion in 2017.
“When Canadians and Bermudians get together, there are going to be great business opportunities,” said Yaffe. “I think we bring the same kind of innovative spirit to a conversation. This is a great initiative and I welcome people coming to Canada from Bermuda, and vice versa.”
“The Fort McMurray wildfires, the largest ever insured loss in Canadian history, cost $3.8 billion; 80 percent was paid by reinsurers, and of those, 25 percent was paid by reinsurers from Bermuda,” noted Don Forgeron, President & CEO, Insurance Bureau of Canada, who participated in a follow-up session focusing on Bermuda’s global value. “This fact underscores the important relationship between the Canadian and Bermudian insurance industries. We look forward to building on this relationship and to leveraging synergies in the Canada-Bermuda marketplace.”
“Relationships are always key, whether it’s with industry or other regulatory bodies,” added Shanna Lespere, COO of the Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA), who joined Forgeron. “It’s important to the BMA to ensure our jurisdiction’s reputation is sound, that we’re well respected from an international community perspective, that everyone has a solid understanding of our regulatory brand and that we maintain open dialogue across all parties.
Fintech entrepreneur Lucia Gallardo, who has partnered with the United Nations to leverage blockchain systems to help resettlement of refugees, among other projects, gave a keynote presentation on ways new-economy businesses are fulfilling shareholder expectations while solving global challenges. Other thought-leadership sessions delved into emerging risks that can be covered by insurance captives, ways Canadians can leverage Bermuda investment vehicles, and the rapid evolution of fintech.
“Today reinforces our decision to invest in Bermuda,” said David Pasieka, Chief Transformation Officer for Algonquin Power & Utilities, the Canadian corporation that recently announced its US$365-million agreement to purchase Bermuda-based Ascendant Group. “With so many good things going for the island, we are excited to bring additional investment, renewable energy expertise and a growth mindset to help support this flourishing economy.”
The three-day Toronto visit included numerous business development meetings, visits to industry groups and stakeholder companies, such as the Canadian Venture Capital Association, Sun Life Financial and Portland Private Equity, and an interview with the Financial Post. During a visit to TMX Group and Toronto Stock Exchange (TSE) Tuesday, the delegation did the honours at that day’s market-opening ceremony.
“Clearly, the Bermuda-Canada relationship is broad and deep,” said BDA CEO Andy Burrows. “This visit has allowed us to engage and reconnect with people who can direct new opportunities to our island. Companies are already reaching out to learn more about how to do business from Bermuda, and it’s evident our two markets share many commonalities, which bodes well for both to grow.”