We have a choice of where we employ people

Stephen Catlin, CEO of Catlin Group has a very important interview in the Royal Gazette today where he covers a lot of the waterfront, including cost, term limits, and crime.

"All of us who run global companies have a choice of where we employ people," Mr. Catlin said. "We need our underwriters at the coal face -- they have to be where the business is done -- but the support for those underwriters does not have to be in the same place.

"It's not cheap to employ people on the Island and I would urge the Government to be mindful of that when they make increases in employment costs.

"We know exactly what it costs to run each office and the costs per head of our employees, so we are constantly comparing and contrasting. Like every public company, we have a fiduciary responsibility to our shareholders to keep expenses down. And our people are a large part of our expenses."

This is much of the point I made to Mr. Burch in a short email immediately after his invitation for a meeting on term limits with Bermudians in IB.

The reason I believe the article with Mr. Catlin is important is because you get a real sense from it as to the character of the man, which is not that different from the character of the senior management of most of our international companies.

He is completely reasonable, guided by a commitment to shareholders and profitability but also keenly aware of the societies he operates in and his ability to have a positive impact.

It becomes quite difficult to demonize the leadership of international business as racists, either institutional or otherwise, when faced with completely reasonable unsolicited comments such as these:

Every jurisdiction had its challenges, Mr. Catlin said. In Bermuda, he felt there was a real need to instill in children the realisation that they could grow up to prosper and take some of the great opportunities the Island offers.

"In Bermuda, I think a rebalancing of the social strata is an important thing to do," Mr. Catlin said. "The key is get young Bermudians, especially boys, by the age of 10 to have a purpose in life and a self-belief that they can make themselves a decent living.

"If you just achieved that one thing, then a lot of things would change for the better."

Catlin has been proactive in its attempts to boost opportunities for young black males through a mentoring partnership started three years ago with CedarBridge Academy, which gives participants the opportunity to go on to further education, with some funding help.

Recent shooting incidents and a rise in crime had heightened the importance of ensuring children grew up with aspirations they could pursue.

"I think the business community has a responsibility to help the community and the Government to get through this," Mr. Catlin said. "We can't employ people who can't write or add up, but what we can do is help with people's education."

Reality is setting in, and I'm pleased that - albeit belatedly - our business leaders are speaking up and demonstrating the power of a robust economy built on low taxes and an efficient delivery of social services and law and order.

For too long our international business leaders thought they should keep their heads down, often at the direct urging from the PLP Government to stay out of politics (but donate). They are reasonable people who have generated a considerable amount of wealth not just for themselves but the 65,000 of us living on this little dot in the ocean.

It behooves Bermuda to acknowledge that the way we've been doing things for the past 10 years is unsustainable.

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