Growing up on a thousand-acre farm in southwest Iowa, Brad Kading came of age in the late ’60s and early ’70s, cutting his political teeth on the maelstrom of America’s civil-rights marches, urban riots, anti-war protests and Watergate hearings.
“Politics was the theme of the day and America was shifting—it was
what we watched on TV, debated at school and talked about around
the dinner table,” says the 61-year-old public-policy lobbyist, who saw
his own family’s Republican views pivot left after his eldest brother,
Bruce, narrowly escaped the Vietnam draft.
As president and executive director of the Association of Bermuda
Insurers and Reinsurers (ABIR), Kading draws on his politically
charged Mid-west background as advocacy point man—not only for
Bermuda’s biggest industry, but also for the jurisdiction in general.
Winner of the Bermuda Insurance Institute (BII) 2017 “Industry
Leader of the Year Award,” he was instrumental in Bermuda’s successful
multi-year campaign for Solvency 2 regulatory equivalence from the
European Union, and is frequently called on to help address thorny
reputational challenges. Notably, he is a respected voice of reason
against “tax-haven” bad-mouthing by NGOs, rival domiciles’ backbiting, or blacklists that perennially threaten Bermuda’s top-tier corporate
“There is a perception outside Bermuda that it’s a jurisdiction which
operates outside of norms of tax and regulatory standards,” he says,
characteristically on-message even for an interview about himself.
“Pictures of beaches and beautiful oceans make serious business look
trivial. Bermuda has to be better than good on regulatory leadership,
Kading is based in Washington DC, where he has run an office for
ABIR for nearly a dozen years. But most of his life is on the road; by his
own reckoning, he’s nearing four million air miles and typically gives
about 24 speeches a year. On any given day, he might be moderating an
industry conference panel in Singapore, addressing EU regulators in
Brussels, tweeting Capitol Hill headlines to stakeholders, cajoling mem-
bers of Congress or briefing policymakers in Bermuda’s Cabinet Office.
He spends an average of a week every month based out of ABIR’s local
headquarters in O’Hara House, Hamilton.
“Bermuda has never been the domicile of choice for multination-
als that want to park profits in an opaque fashion,” he says, folding his
six-foot-three frame into an office chair overlooking Bermudiana Road’s
power lunches. “We’re not Panama. We’re not the Bahamas. We’re not
the BVIs with more than 500,000 incorporations. This is not the place
you would go to if you wanted to hide money. This is the place you’d
go because you wanted to put money to work taking on insurance risk.
That’s what makes Bermuda unique; it’s different. But its success is
dependent on being able to articulate that message to policymakers in
Europe, the US, and the G20.”
Representing the interests of ABIR’s 22 member companies has
neatly complemented the wider sphere of Bermudian external affairs.
The island’s world-class regulatory status is a key reason a third of the
industry’s top 40 leading reinsurance carriers are based here. In turn,
Bermuda draws heavily on the sector’s critical role after the world’s
WRITTEN BY ROSEMARY JONES | PHOTOGRAPH BY TWO & QUARTER
Bermuda reinsurance ambassador bolsters our good name