The beautiful island nation of Bermuda is probably best known for its gorgeous beaches and award-winning resorts. But, to those in the insurance industry, Bermuda is also known as the “risk capital of the world” and, with one of the most highly respected regulatory environments, is well positioned to be a test bed for insurance innovation. RGAX recently sponsored a workshop with Team Bermuda to discuss innovation and entrepreneurship and how the public sector, private sector, and regulators can come together to drive industry change. The session was carefully designed to give participants the space to share and collaborate on a broad vision while also challenging assumptions and conventional thinking.
Joining us from Team Bermuda were the Honorable David Burt, Premier of Bermuda, his Chief of Staff, Owen Darrell, and Chief Fintech Advisor to the Premier, Denis Pitcher. From the Bermuda Business Development Agency (BDA), an organization focused on educating international organizations on the benefits of Bermuda incorporation, we had Roland “Andy” Burrows, CEO, Kevin Richards, Business Development Manager, and Rosemary Jones, Head of Communications. Team Bermuda was rounded out by some stellar entrepreneurs from the island including Coral Wells, Co-Founder of ConnecTech, an organization focused on software development and training. ConnecTech has also partnered with RGAX to conduct innovation sprints on the island.
Redefining Bermuda as a center for tech innovation
Lauren Farmer, Operations Manager for the lab and the latest addition to the team, started the session by introducing the lab and kicking off the day’s activities. Next up, Chris Murumets, Managing Director of RGAX Americas, talked about the RGAX mission to help people all over the world live longer, healthier, more financially secure lives.
The message from Team Bermuda centered around redefining the country as a center for tech innovation. Under the Premier’s leadership, Bermuda is expanding its focus on insurance risk to become a hub for startup activity and digital asset (crypto) regulation. The country also seeks to be a digital-first country with electronic government IDs similar to Estonia’s e-Residency program.
Despite the heavy-weights involved, the conversations flowed naturally. Instead of organizing the session with a panel of experts at the head of the room, everyone arranged their chairs in a circle, so our discussion took on more of the cadence and tone of a fireside chat. (We hadn’t planned for this, but it was the happy result of having chairs on wheels.)
The dialogue throughout the day made me think about the strategic role leadership plays in tech transformation. Leaders that support tech initiatives from the top down, many of them experiments, need to redefine value creation as a byproduct of failed learnings rather than return on equity and stock price.
These perspectives certainly challenge the norms of big business and require leaders with a broad vision who can balance shareholder value with investments in R&D. At RGAX, we are lucky to have a leadership team that supports investments in cutting-edge innovations, such as Blockchain, and other trends that stand to impact the insurance industry in significant ways.
Future solutions to solve uncertainties around risk
Throughout the day, we talked a lot about where the industry is today and where we want to be. Much of that discussion focused on the challenges that need to be overcome.
For example, Andy Burrows and Denis Pitcher of the BDA raised questions around the uncertain future of risk over the next 10 years and the potential solutions that will allow our industry to adapt to what we can’t foresee. Topics discussed included vaccinations, pandemic risk, smart contract cover, and the rise in mortality rates, to name a few.
Lily Chen, CFO for Berkshire Life Re Canada, and Mark Lipmann, COO for AIG Canada, addressed challenges they face around technology transformation and the leadership decisions between ‘tech to improve’ vs. ‘tech to replace’. As much as we want to do both, the reality is budgets drive decisions, and corporate strategy drives budgets.
Brian Millman, VP of MIB, described the future importance of industry data and how the future is bright for data partnerships, especially in a changing market where everyone is looking to stay relevant.
Another goal of the panel was to network beyond insurance and break through any constraints to our thinking. To that end, we invited founders from our startup community to join in on the fun.
Hari Acharya from PomeGran, a startup focused on IoT managed services that simplify infrastructure and control, raised awareness on the importance of organizational oversight on expired encryption algorithms because of the vulnerabilities they create.
Zack Skeith, Chief Strategy Officer for ThreeLefts, shared their journey from being a consulting firm focused on blockchain implementations to building the first end-to-end blockchain payment system for the entertainment industry, singularly executing payments from the creator to the content distributor using the core tenets of the distributed ledger.
Chris Livadas from Micruity described the value proposition of being an automated transfer and distribution platform for insurance company annuity products. (Although, he could not solve the Premier’s pension problem on the spot.)
Introducing Bermuda to Toronto's tech scene
All in all, it was a busy week. Not only did we sponsor the discussion with Team Bermuda, but we also hosted Collision Conference, one of the largest and fastest growing tech conferences in North America.
Over 25,000 insurance professionals came to Toronto to listen to talks and attend workshops with thought leaders across Hollywood, Silicon Valley, government, and the Fortune 500. If anything, what this says to me is that the future of Toronto tech is HOT, which made the folks from Bermuda feel right at home.
The mission behind RGAX, which directly speaks to the future of insurance and the people impacted, drives our team’s focus and we love the opportunity to facilitate these types of discussions around the globe. Do you have an industry challenge that is affecting our future? Bring it to the table and let’s see where it might take us.