In this new feature, International Investment highlights some of our outstanding Q&A and interview sessions from our recent program of virtual events and video interviews.
In this transcript from that candid and revealing interview – originally broadcast live from Middle East Forum II November 17, 2020 – Christopher Copper-Ind, Editor-in-Chief of International Investment, speaks with Simon Pickering, Head of Insurance and Pensions at the Isle of Man Department of Business.
CCI: First of all, how important is the life sector to the Isle of Man? It seems to play a major role both locally and internationally. Could you say a little about why?
Dubai, in particular, is important to us going forward, and we are looking to expand our links with other areas beyond life insurance, including funds, fintech and family offices, “Simon Pickering, Isle of Man Department Insurance and Pensions Manager for the company
SP: This is extremely important for the island, constituting 16.5% of our annual GDP. And the life sector locally employs just under 2,000 people which, if you consider overall employment in financial services on the Isle of Man, one in six people work in one of our companies. ‘life insurance.
In fact, we have the largest group of life insurance companies than any other financial center. It is therefore extremely central to our economy. And as a government, we seek to support the sector as much as possible.
CCI: I see you are in the office over there on the Isle of Man. I’m pretty jealous since most of us work from home. How has the island coped with the pandemic?
SP: Very good. It is obviously a very strange year for all of us, and these are unprecedented times. But our government made a very quick decision to close our borders in March, which in my opinion was clearly the right decision. We have been back in the office since the third week of June. So other than the lack of travel per se, life here is pretty much back to normal. We have largely kept the disease out of our community.
All of our restaurants, shops, banks, gyms and clubs are open as usual. The key word that kept repeating itself was “resilience”. Because we are an island and we all help each other out, and this has also been seen in the living industry where business has gone as usual.
CCI: Given the focus we have in this forum on the Middle East, and the UAE in particular, could you tell us more about the Isle of Man’s ties to the region? How did they come and why are they still so important today?
SP: Absolutely, yes, the Middle East is very important to us. We have been getting a lot of solid bargains from the area and have been doing so for over 20 years now. The majority of our life insurance companies have offices there, and a very large number of local employees from the Isle of Man have moved there to work.
It is a business that we seek to develop. Dubai, in particular, is important to us going forward, and we are looking to expand our links with other areas beyond life insurance, including funds, fintech and family offices.
To view all recent sessions II Middle East Forum click here.