Why and how insurance companies can build relationships with eco-friendly neighborhoods

Conduit Re’s executive team, unsettled by the monumental challenge of establishing a pure-play reinsurer within the COVID-19 pandemic, established the Conduit Foundation, a privately endowed Bermudan charity, to operate in tandem with the firm.

Stuart Quinlan, COO and deputy CEO of Conduit Re, pointed out that the company is unique among its London-listed peers in that it bases all of its business operations in Bermuda. “The leadership team has been very focused on the importance of establishing itself in the local Bermuda community, both within the industry and more widely,” Quinlan said.

Roots of the Conduit Re Foundation
Part of that story, he said, is the Conduit Foundation. Reflecting on the foundation’s origins, he emphasized its mission statement: to support the Bermuda community through its involvement in environmental projects, diversity and inclusion initiatives, education, and assistance for the most vulnerable. With three years under his belt at Conduit Re and a new lease on life in Bermuda after decades of service to the London insurance market, Quinlan knows firsthand what it’s like to immerse oneself in Bermudaan culture.

According to him, “you’re never more than a mile from seeing the sea,” and the island of Bermuda is only home to about 60,000 people spread out throughout its 24-mile length. It’s an incredibly welcoming environment, and you’re never more than five minutes away from running into an old acquaintance, especially as you make your mark. There are fewer degrees of separation on Bermuda because of its small population and the fact that everything is closer together, but otherwise it’s pretty similar to the rest of the world.

Analyzing the disparity in income in Bermuda
According to him, there are some very wealthy people in Bermuda who are involved in both domestic and foreign commerce, but there are also many others living in extreme poverty due to factors like high housing costs and the island’s heavy reliance on foreign goods.

He explained that the CEO, Trevor Carvey, and executive chairman, Neil Eckert, were committed to establishing a foundation as a prerequisite to starting a firm in the area. The banks that invested in Conduit also contributed significantly to the organization’s original seed funding, which we used to launch the foundation. Therefore, the primary focus of the first year was to form the foundation’s legal framework and to organize the protector committee.

We decided early on that Bermuda would be where we wanted to concentrate our efforts, but we didn’t become serious about it until 2022. In addition to these basic objectives, we want to improve the health of the Bermudan population, help the most vulnerable members of society, and push education forward.

Among the fourteen local organizations that received grants from the Conduit Foundation in 2022—the first year of such donations—were P.A.L.S., a charity that provides cancer care; Meals on Wheels Bermuda; the Friends of Christchurch; and the Bermuda Red Cross. Quinlan made the point that the Conduit Re team’s support extends well beyond monetary matters, even if the charities involved received $280,000 in donations.

The importance of supporting communities goes beyond financial considerations
In his words, “it’s about the doing as well,” contrasting the ease of simply writing checks to charities with his organization. Our goal is to build lasting relationships with the organizations that we support through employee volunteerism and the exchange of information and expertise. Take meals on wheels as an example. On Fridays, we’ve taken over delivery route 16, and in order to get more people engaged, we have a relay system on our intranet where volunteers go out and teach each other the route.

When our employees volunteer with local organizations, it multiplies the effect of the foundation’s monetary donations. Just in 2022, employees of Conduit recorded almost 2,000 hours of volunteer work. More than 70% of our staff members are deeply involved in the communities in which they were born and raised. In addition, the staff gift matching program and sponsorship of special fundraising events allowed us to provide financial support to several other local charity groups.

The foundation’s efforts, as Quinlan pointed out, are to be in harmony with both its own goals and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals. According to him, while reviewing and approving funds for Bermudan charities in 2022, the organization provided support for 15 out of 17 UN categories.

“Gala of Giving” by Conduit Re
While Quinlan acknowledged that Conduit Re is not alone in its support of local groups, he was eager to broaden the scope and came up with the idea of a community “Gala of Giving” based on his knowledge of planning such events in the UK.

Conduit Re’s upper management gave its stamp of approval to Quinlan’s ambitious plans, and in 2022, the Foundation used all its might to increase donations to the fourteen local Bermuda charities it had previously selected. As he reflected on the massive event—which brought people together from across the island and beyond—and how it connected them with representatives from the charities receiving the funds, he stressed the importance of showing everyone there the tangible results of their support.

According to him, “it was a great experience to coordinate the organization of the event with the active participation of the Bermuda business community.” The event, which drew over $310,000 in donations and ticket sales, will be divided evenly among the charities that will benefit from the 2023 event. Conduit Re is quite proud of the strong connection that exists between businesses and their communities; this was on display at the auction, which had contributions from over 30 Bermuda firms and welcomed over 350 visitors.

The importance of knowing how insurance affects the people you serve
Supporting both the community you work for and the one you call home is crucial, he emphasized. Living here now is an incredible privilege. With thirty years of rail and tube commutes under one’s belt, it must be said! It is an incredible opportunity to join a community and help build a business from the ground up, all while having the possibility to make a meaningful difference.

Being able to discuss the positive effects of the Conduit Foundation on the local community is, in my opinion, a great way to promote our industry as an attractive place to work. Bermuda has this incredible quality that no other place on Earth possesses: a whole generation of young people who aspire to work in the insurance and reinsurance sectors. Because our industry is so important here, we should gladly donate our time and money to causes that need it.