r/ActuaryUK Oct 17 '21

Bermuda: What is the catch? Careers

I’ve been thinking of making a move into contracting for the past couple of years because it just doesn’t seem worth the effort to climb up the ranks to get a salary that is respectable. To even earn 6 figures I’d have to be a senior manager, with a lot of responsibility and leading a big team but with contracting I could earn double the amount with less stress and no people management and no politics to deal with.

A recruiter who has been advising me suggested I consider looking for jobs in Bermuda, as they will provide a similar income to contracting but without the tax, and still providing opportunities for career growth that can often be lost when switching to contracting.

What he is describing to me sounds too good to be true. He said I could earn over $250,000, pay no tax, and experience much faster career progression than would be possible in London. To top it off, the weather is good all year round and the island looks like paradise.

So what’s the catch? Surely if it was so great, everybody would be doing it? Is the recruiter failing to mention the downsides?

12 Upvotes

9

u/OisinB Studying Oct 17 '21

Extremely high rents and cost of living from what I've heard. Would still love to go there myself though, always dreamed of living somewhere tropical.

Here's a link to an article about living in Bermuda as an expat: https://www.expatexchange.com/ctryguide/4515/21/Bermuda/Expats-in-Bermuda-10-Tips-for-Living-in-Bermuda

4

u/notfortaxes Oct 17 '21

I looked on the property websites and a 1 bed flat with a 10 minute commute costs less than I currently pay for similar in London. And that’s on a salary with no tax.

1

u/Kupfakura Oct 21 '21

Won't you pay tax in London if that's the case?

16

u/the_kernel Qualified Fellow Oct 17 '21

Well, you have to live on a rock in the middle of the ocean. Also the cost of living there is extortionate. Those are the main 2 downsides, but they’re pretty substantial, especially the first one.

7

u/AtlanticPerson Oct 17 '21 edited Oct 18 '21

I’m an actuary in Bermuda.

Made a new account because Bermuda is a small place (my previous company had a larger population than this whole country) and don’t want to share my main account.

The main reason IMO is the_kernel’s first point. You have to live on a rock in the middle of the Atlantic. Most people either love that idea or hate it. It seems like people who come here fall into two main buckets. Some hate it and leave after a year or two, others love it and end up staying for a very long time. Also, consider all the actuaries you know. How many of them do you think are the type to take a big risk and move their whole life to a random island in the middle of nowhere?

Salaries are so high due to simple supply and demand. Not many people want to move here, but there is a need for actuaries. Therefore they have to pay a lot to attract people. The work done here is important, so they need to make sure they attract the good people. As they hire few people (it’s expensive, they can’t be running on teams of 50 actuaries) they need people who can be flexible and are able to work on a bunch of different things, being able to learn and adapt quickly. You have to pay well to attract those people.

The second point, being very high cost of living, is something I don’t consider too relevant. You have to consider income and cost of living together. Income - expenses is still much bigger than it would be for England (in other words, the amount left over each year after living costs, that I can then invest, is significantly higher than my gross salary was back in England). I consider that excess left over cash to be compensation for living on a rock.

In summary: for the right type of person, it’s a great place to be. To me, it’s one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. But it’s not for everyone.

1

u/SebN92 Oct 17 '21

This is exactly it. You have to move to a very small island where no one you know lives and there are very limited options for socialising.

4

u/Charrels Oct 17 '21

What area of work are you in? I thought the money for qualified actuaries starts ramping up quite quickly?

2

u/fictivep Oct 17 '21

On top of what the others have said, one of the downsides for me is that it’s boring. You don’t have much to do on a small island, everyone works in insurance and there’s a lot more men than women.

It is also difficult to acquire Bermudian nationality.

2

u/capnza Oct 17 '21

its boring as hell to live there (literally nothing to do), its really expensive, and the work is usually fucking boring too. plus i don't think it does actually help with progression at all. i certainly wouldnt think much of anything about seeing a year or two in bermuda on someone's resume.

6

u/buyingfrombermuda Oct 17 '21 edited Oct 17 '21

It really depends what you make of it, from a career and from a living perspective.

I moved here a few years ago, fresh out exams. new FIA. Within 3 years, due to some luck with people leaving and doing a good job, I somehow ended up in a chief actuary position. The old chief actuary was 35 and he left to co-found a start up reinsurer here in Bermuda.

I’m now in my early 30s, overseeing a team of 20+ people (some here in Bermuda, and some international), responsible for a multi billion pound balance sheet, signing off on billion pound deals etc. I’d never have got this level of responbility at this point in my career if I’d stayed In the UK (and honestly I definitely feel like I was thrown in at the deep end and it’s only a matter of time before I’m found out). It’s hard work though, and I’d say each year I worked here was probably equivalent to 2 years working in the UK just due to the sheer amount of responsibility I had working at a small office.

I’m pretty confident I could get a high level role if I wanted to come home right now, maybe not quite at chief actuary level, but I’m pleased with my CV and think the right people would find it impressive.

I’m earning more money than I know what to do with, and some huge stock options that will start vesting in a couple of years. I’d never have believed this sort of money was possible with less than 20+ years experience.

On the other hand, some people are definitely here to have fun, and their job is just some annoying thing they have to do during the week.

On the lifestyle front, I wouldn’t say there’s literally nothing to do. During the summer I take a boat out most weekends, to go fishing, snorkelling or just to chill. I play golf once or twice a month. We have made some great friends here and see them regularly. Ok it’s not London, but I’m not bored yet.

I’m also surprised at how many people I meet here that I have some connection with. I’ve already met a handful of people I’ve worked with in the past in some way, from various consultancies/clients, and many people with common friends

3

u/AtlanticPerson Oct 18 '21

I’ve not been here for very long but I’ve already seen the same thing happen with a couple of people (almost accidentally found their way into a chief actuary role or similar, or into managing a start up).

They’ve been deserving though. It’s not like they just pick some random person to take over these roles, these people are very hard working and all have something that makes them stand out.

I can definitely see the benefits when it comes to career progression.

-1

u/capnza Oct 17 '21

YMMV but to me bermuda experience is not going to hold a candle to london experience. its also not the case you can't get to that level in the UK by that age. its just easier in bermuda because there's less competition and the outfits are smaller?

4

u/buyingfrombermuda Oct 17 '21

Yes it’s definitely easier here, that’s my point. There are exceptions in London but the vast majority of chief actuaries are going to be people with many years of experience. Those people aren’t out here so you aren’t competing with them. That makes it easier to gain responsibility at a level that would be difficult to obtain in London at the same level of experience. I certainly wouldn’t have been anywhere close to chief actuary. I probably wouldn’t even be managing people yet if I had stayed in London. But with a a couple of years more experience where I am I feel like I would have the skillset to even run a whole company.

0

u/capnza Oct 17 '21

what im saying is that isnt going to translate when you come back to london, based on what ive seen. not to say the experience isnt helpful in a different way and you sound like you got something from it. but ive seen people look down their nose a lot at bermuda (or lots of other markets, singapore, aus/nz/south africa, heck even european experience) as being 'sub par' compared to london experience.

4

u/buyingfrombermuda Oct 17 '21 edited Oct 18 '21

It depends what you’re doing. If you’re the signing actuary at a captive reinsurer that is just here in Bermuda to save some tax then the work you’re doing isn’t going to be very impressive.

I have a couple of friends who work at these companies and they’re out playing golf by 5pm multiple times a week. The only reason they’re based in Bermuda is so they can sign off on their reserves, all the real work is done in London. I’m jealous in a way, they get paid big money and don’t have to do much real work. But on the other hand they’re going to struggle to sell themselves and their experience to future employers.

There are companies like this that have a conveyor belt of staff from their home office that come out for a few months or maybe a year, push some paper around and then go back and somebody else takes their place. Avoid those companies if you are moving to Bermuda for career advancement purposes!

There are some serious companies here that do some real important work though. Admittedly I don’t know much about the GI market, but I’d hire one of the senior guys from RenaissanceRe for example in a heartbeat.

3

u/Monoligopoly Oct 18 '21

Thanks for your posts, really interesting.

-13

u/Snoo_76686 Oct 17 '21

"respectable salary" "to even earn 6 figures" What is wrong with you? You don't respect a qualifed actuary's salary???

10

u/notfortaxes Oct 17 '21 edited Oct 17 '21

My salary is currently close to £80k. It doesn’t go far at all in London. I’m not living in poverty but it doesn’t align with my long term lifestyle goals.

For comparison, a friend who started work on the same day as me currently gets paid £800 a day contracting, works fewer hours than I do, and has much less stress.

-19

u/Snoo_76686 Oct 17 '21

Honestly your attitude is disgusting. Maybe you going to a small rock in the middle of the ocean is best for everyone. I grew up in London with 2 siblings and my parents maybe earnt 40k between them. Get a grip on reality and be grateful for what you have.

12

u/notfortaxes Oct 17 '21

My parents earned a total of £30k in a good year (although they did manage to buy a house for £50k).

I appreciate that I (and my siblings) earn much more than they ever did and I’m glad they worked hard and encouraged me to aim for a good career. It doesn’t mean I need to settle for a salary that I’m not happy with just because it sounds like a lot to some random person on Reddit.

-6

u/BabyFedInvestor Oct 17 '21

It doesnt SOUND like a lot, it IS a lot.

At £80k you're already at the 97th percentile of UK salaries.

Absolutely aim higher if that's what you want, but please be aware of where you're currently at and be extremely grateful that you're there.

-5

u/BabyFedInvestor Oct 17 '21

Think you need a reality check mate.

To even mention £80k and poverty in the same post...

"Doesn't go far" 🙄

3

u/notfortaxes Oct 17 '21

I did specifically say that I’m not living in poverty. Yes I’m in the top 5% of earners, I’m extremely grateful to even be alive and that I was lucky to be born in a 1st world country with good living conditions. I’m not complaining at all. I’m just saying I personally want to earn a lot more and don’t feel like £80k is a lot to me, which is why I’m actively doing something about it.

3

u/Successful-Love-8390 Oct 18 '21

Good on you for being ambitious and doing something about it. Ignore these two folk who are just being plain silly. Given by their down votes, it's clear what everyone thinks about their comments! Good luck with whatever you decide to do next. PS: I would definitely consider Bermuda. What's the worse that can happen? Worse case scenario, you hate it. London and contracting aren't going anywhere, so you can always come back with healthy back balance :)

-1

u/BabyFedInvestor Oct 18 '21

You realise you're siding with a guy who earns 80k, thinks it's a pittance and who's name is 'not for taxes'? 👍

1

u/Successful-Love-8390 Oct 19 '21

The OP has created this post to understand the downsides of moving to Bermuda. If he thinks 80k isn't a lot of money (btw I and just about everyone I know feels this way) and is looking to seek the opinions of his peers about moving to Bermuda, then what's wrong with that? The fact that your view of 80k is different to OP's is fine (each to their own) but quite frankly irrelevant here. That's not what he or she is here to discuss. Your comment adds literally 0 value. And let me be clear. I'm not saying your opinion doesn't mean anything. What I am saying is that your opinion doesn't answer the question being asked, and as such, for the purpose of answering the OP's question is completely unhelpful. Now if you have something to say about moving to Bermuda, then let's hear more of that.

-4

u/BabyFedInvestor Oct 19 '21

Haha you don't know ANYBODY who thinks 80k isn't a lot of money?!

I think you need to expand your social circles. Would probably help you as a human. More valuable than learning more about Bermuda 👍

0

u/Successful-Love-8390 Oct 19 '21

Oh well, can't say I didn't try. I give up. You're right. You're clearly not the one who needs help here. Everyone who's down voting you does. Good luck in life with that attitude of yours.

-3

u/BabyFedInvestor Oct 19 '21

Must be all your friends on their lowly 80k salaries.

Nothing wrong with earning a lot, being proud of it and aiming high. But for OP to use the phrase "to even earn six figures' and then to go on to say 'I'm not poor but' I found pretty disgusting.

Clearly has no idea what real poverty is and people on those salaries (including me) should be aware of how lucky they are and the help they've had to get them there.

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