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BDA’s concierge service complements new rules

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The primary mission for the Bermuda Business Development Agency (BDA) for 2019 is clear: to welcome more international business to the island, following the implementation of new economic substance rules that will see a bolstered physical presence by companies across industry sectors.

“We want to move the needle and encourage more firms to set up operations here, with boots on the ground,” explains a BDA spokesperson. 

“That has always been the main objective of the BDA, but it has taken on greater significance since the directive from the EU that Bermuda-registered companies engaged in specified income-generating activities (including asset management) will need to maintain physical presence, an adequate number of qualified employees, and a level of management and decision-making authority in Bermuda. This is an opportunity for us to help companies achieve compliance with the new rules, while also increasing their investment in Bermuda.” 

To make it as easy as possible to set up business in Bermuda, the BDA provides an exclusive Concierge Service. As it is a public/private partnership that receives funding from the Bermuda Government, the BDA has a close alliance with various government ministries and departments that can assist investors and businesses in re-locating or getting up and running as effortlessly as possible. 

“It’s an important part of the service that we offer to those coming here,” says the BDA. “Our Concierge Service is a fast track solution for company registration as well as other licensing and work-permit applications and processes that new companies may need to go through when starting up. We introduce start-ups to our contacts in government departments, in the Bermuda Monetary Authority (BMA), and at private-sector partners that can assist them along the way, making sure they select the right service providers and so on.” 

The BDA acknowledges the headline attribute of Bermuda is its reputation, thanks in large part to the role the BMA plays in setting a gold standard for how its regulatory regime operates 

“Our access to the regulator is something that companies have been really impressed by. Using our Concierge Service, they can have a consultation with the regulator prior to making a decision on where they want to establish their business. The BMA is very receptive to meeting with people, discussing business plans and understanding what it is people are looking to do in Bermuda. That is a major differentiator, in our view—the fact Bermuda can offer a direct level of access to the regulator before the process moves on to licensing specifics.

“We are seeing interest in a variety of areas. New asset managers, fund administrators and law firms are coming here, as well as new companies in the fintech and digital asset space. We’re seeing a little bit of everything.”

Indeed, Bermuda has adapted to meet the needs of innovative new players in the quickly developing area of tokenised fund products, security and utility tokens, virtual currencies and other offerings enabled by blockchain or distributed ledger technologies. Enacted in 2018, the ICO Act and the Digital Asset Business Act cemented Bermuda’s reputation as a global leader in the legislation and regulation of this dynamic sector.

Bermuda’s commitment to embracing fintech innovation represents a new chapter of growth, a disruption to the status quo.

“Bermuda is quite familiar with being on the cutting edge of advancements like this,” says the BDA. “Some insurances executives have said they get a sense of déjà vu, in that they are seeing Bermuda move aggressively into a new marketplace (as it did with captive insurance and excess liability and ILS) with industry-leading regulation and legislation and a lot of political will.

“Our government has taken a consultative approach with the private sector to ensure we are making the right moves and that we are setting the highest standard to attract only the best and the brightest companies and entrepreneurs to our shores. We don’t want to jeopardise our reputation—we want to enhance it.” 

Geopolitical headwinds could prove challenging in 2019 but the BDA feels Bermuda’s collaborative spirit is its “secret sauce” that will help the island turn those headwinds into great opportunities. 

“The BDA bridges the gap between the private markets industry and the government. We have a unique chance to get the message out on what Bermuda has to offer and continue to work closely with our industry partners, to steer the island in the right direction.” n

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