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The Actuary The magazine of the Institute & Faculty of Actuaries
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Working overseas: A job in paradise

Despite much of the Western world being in the midst of a recession and redundancies continuing apace, actuaries remain in high demand. This is the case in Bermuda, where most reinsurance companies continue to prosper despite current market trends, translating into a need for more actuaries on the island. Perhaps 2009 is the year to move to the sub-tropical island with a strong international business centre.

Several of the world’s top reinsurance companies have a presence in Bermuda. These companies, many Class 3 or 4 insurers, are highly regulated by the Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA). Actuaries are often hired to assist in the underwriting process for property casualty and excess liability risks. There is also a market for actuaries who want to work on hedge funds or be part of an audit team. In most cases, companies are looking to hire fully-qualified actuaries, or those who have completed more than half of the exams. For those who need to complete exams to become a fellow, support may be found on the island through the Casualty Actuarial Society or the Institute of Actuaries.

Work–life balance
The work-life balance in Bermuda differs greatly from that of the UK. The 21-square mile island offers a quick commute to work via moped, bus or ferry, though some choose to live within the city of Hamilton. Most of the international businesses, shops and restaurants are also located in the city. This affords employees the opportunity to meet friends or clients for lunch near their workplace, or relax in a pub or wine bar minutes after they have shut down their computers for the day. During the summer months, there is always the opportunity to play cricket or go for a swim at the beach.

When considering the financial benefits, an actuarial position in Bermuda is certainly lucrative. The compensation package may include a moving or housing allowance. Of course, the main difference in compensation arises through the very low income tax in Bermuda. That said, most Brits relocate to Bermuda to enjoy long summers and the activities such weather affords.

Those activities include scuba diving, sailing, volleyball, golf and soccer, to name but a few. Sports fans will enjoy the World Rugby Classic, cricket games during the annual Cup Match holiday and year-round tennis. For those less enthused about sporting events, the island is home to interesting boutiques, beautiful beaches and world-class spas. Travelling is easy, with daily flights to the UK and cities throughout North America. Culture is also a focus in Bermuda, where many nationalities are present and an appreciation for the arts is nurtured. The nightlife is popular with both residents and the multitude of tourists who visit annually.

Bermuda is not just for those seeking sun and social benefits. The country is a leader in offshore risk financing. In 2008, the BMA reported that Bermuda’s insurers had aggregate total assets of more than $440bn and that gross premiums written that year equalled more than $115bn. Working in Bermuda adds value to anyone’s CV. Employees are exposed to international businesses and networking opportunities and such a move demonstrates flexibility and the ability to meet challenges. In short, you will improve your chances of standing out to future employers.

Next steps
The easiest way to source a job in Bermuda is to register with one of the country’s recruitment firms. They can assist you with your CV and keep you apprised of new job openings. Furthermore, they can guide you through the island’s work permit process. As with all moves, expatriates may find their initial few months a bit daunting. It is fair to expect that it will take some time to get your bearings. However, residents are quite friendly and, given that thousands of workers are non- Bermudian, you will likely find someone with a similar background with whom you can share any concerns.

Fortunately, the risk of relocating to Bermuda during a recession is relatively low. Should your position be made redundant, many of the international businesses have offices throughout the world where other actuarial positions will be available and, if not, another reinsurer on the island may well be interested. It is fair to say that the market for actuaries in Bermuda will continue to thrive for some time.

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Island fast facts
Class 3 Insurance — Companies writing more than 20% unrelated business (commercial insurers/reinsurers, finite reinsurers and rent-a-captives).
Class 4 Insurance — Companies writing property catastrophe reinsurance or excess liability insurance.

>> Bermuda is a 21-square mile island, 600 miles east of the United States
>> It has a population of 68 500
>> It is an overseas territory of the UK, operating under Bermuda law
>> As of 2008, approximately 33% of jobs were held by non-Bermudians
>> Most work permits are offered for a maximum duration of six years and are required for all non-Bermudian workers.

Britt Reiss is the president of The James Partnership, Executive Search & Selection