Isle of Man Business Network | News
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That was the question posed by Bill Shimmins MHK who proposed the motion that ‘This house believes that due to the Island’s rapidly ageing population and historically low rate of unemployment, all restrictions on immigration and employment should immediately be lifted’ at the recent ILS World Panel Debate, the latest event delivered by the IOM Business Network.


He went on to outline that the Island has one of the worst dependency ratios in Europe, with the 2016 Census highlighting a marked decline in younger residents and yet an increase in older ones. In comparison, Jersey, a key offshore competitor, is growing its younger and economically active population at a staggering rate.


It’s his belief that the current Island demographic is unsustainable, with the best option being to grow the young demographic and secure sustainable growth by vastly improving the Island’s infrastructure with immediate action.


Mr Shimmins was supported in his proposal by Caren Pegg, Vice President of the IOM Chamber of Commerce and a Partner in the Dispute Resolution department at Appleby. Opposing the motion were Rob Callister, MHK for Onchan, and Michael Josem, an Island-based International PR and Marketing Consultant.


All four had the opportunity to put forward their arguments before taking part in a Q&A with delegates, summarising and then a vote from the room.

The lively debate provoked conversation around the Island’s image and a renewed need to re-examine Government policies for childcare and education, return to work schemes and incentives to create a compelling proposition for economically active families to consider the Isle of Man as a viable option.


In support of Mr Shimmins’ pointed argument to relax what proposers consider to be an overly rigid system, Caren Pegg shared powerful statistics and voiced the consensus of Isle of Man Chamber of Commerce, a shared opinion garnered from a members-only consultation conducted in November 2016.


Chamber consultation on work permits reported that over 50% of participating members felt the work permit system prevented Isle of Man businesses from effective recruitment. In addition:

  • 30% felt the system actively forced businesses to consider alternatives such as expansion off island
  • 75% of businesses experienced difficulty recruiting in the last 12 months due to a lack of applicants locally, and went as far as to say that we have a system which hinders economic growth.

Chamber’s feelings were later compounded by the 2016 Census results which confirmed their suspicion that the economically active proportion of our population is declining.


Since 2016, Government has acted on Chamber’s input and gone about reforming the system which, today, looks very different. However, the argument can be made that it still does not go far enough and further removal of restrictions can be made to help attract workers to the Isle of Man.


In February 2018, Government commissioned a discovery paper on meeting population challenges which forecasts population movement over the next 20 years based on net zero migration. If the current trend continues, the Isle of Man is set to decline from 84,000 residents in 2018 to 78,000 residents by 2026, with a significant increase in over 65s during the same period. Who is going to support the aging population?


Caren highlighted that this was not a trend particular to the Isle of Man; both immigration and unemployment are global concerns, further exacerbated by Brexit. Since June 2016, there has been a sharp decline in the number of migrant workers coming to the UK. As our nearest neighbour, the UK is the first port of call for recruiters but the talent pool is restricted and continues to contract, resulting in a hyper competitive labour market, wage inflation and the outsourcing of jobs to other countries.


She closed on the statement that Government needs to lead on bold, co-ordinated action across many policy fronts to curb this trend and introduced the notion of a temporary suspension of the current system as a trial to properly assess the effects of what the opposition referred to as a ‘free for all’.


Michael Josem, who referred to the proposer’s view as a ‘free for all’, tabled the concept of a merit-based system and argued that a controlled and measured way forward would benefit the Isle of Man economically, environmentally and socially, ensuring service continuity and the high living standards residents are accustomed to for healthcare, education, infrastructure, transport and amenities.


Migrants would be selected based on merit or humanitarian grounds, with tight controls on who comes into the country and the circumstances under which they relocate, thereby ensuring we maintain an economy based on high skills, staff and productivity, and maintain social equilibrium and a fair welfare system.


Looking inward, Michael highlighted Isle of Man birth rate statistics and reinforced the point we need to revisit child benefit, increasing support for education and growing the population domestically.


Somewhat startling figures on women’s propensity to have children, a view based on increasing pressure of economic challenges and compounded by a 3% fall in the median wage, highlighted the difficulties faced by married and cohabiting couples and the impact this has on starting a family, and that our focus as an Island should be on making the average Manx family richer rather than increasing the aggregate size. China’s economy is greater in size, but the average Chinese family is far worse off by comparison.


Supported by Michael, Rob Callister MHK reminded the room of the intended light-hearted nature of the debate, and that our powers as an independent Government to force change were limited by law.


The Isle of Man’s immigration policies take the same form as the UK under Section 3 of the Immigration Act 1971, which guarantees that Crown Dependencies apply the same treatment to legal citizens of the EU. Of course, this changed on 23 June 2016 when the UK voted to leave the European Union.


Whilst the UK renegotiates agreements, the Isle of Man could, in theory, repeal the Act which enforces us to uphold the current system. However, with no primary legislation in place the UK would simply extend its powers, citing the Isle of Man had become an easy gateway into the UK for criminals and terrorists, and for the financing of criminal activity which would have serious implications relating to the common travel area as well as a negative economic effect, countering our exemplary approach to financial services legislation under the EU.


Mr Callister applauded the changes to the application process, and commented that it was right to continue this approach provided officers did not compromise the level of scrutiny, and the benefits of having a flexible system that protects residents from incoming competition. However, he noted that this did not address the underlying issue which is quite simply that people do not move to the Isle of Man for need of a work permit; instead they’re sold on the ideal based on their awareness of opportunities, Island life and financial benefits, and our destination marketing and management needs to be on par with Jersey and Guernsey, as well as our other closest competitors, to be in the running in the recruitment race.


The panel voiced four passionate, well-constructed points of view but it was up to the audience to vote for or against the motion. Following an audience Q&A, the room voted with Mr Shimmins and Caren Pegg for the suspension of the current system in a bid to attract foreign nationals to the Isle of Man.


Chief executive, Chris Eaton said: “ILS supports formal debates on the Isle of Man to provide a forum for discussion on the issues facing the Island. As people who live and work here we know we need to increase our economically-active population to ensure there are enough people to fuel the development of our local businesses and our economy.


“Producing a strategy to retain and attract graduates, address the growing skills shortages, the decline in birth rates and catering for the growing numbers in retirement is very complex and these are not issues confined to the Isle of Man. The debate was informative and both sides made strong arguments.


“The questions and comments from the floor showed there were strong opinions on the Motion and we must find some common ground between these two opposing opinions to urgently produce some innovative policy that will realistically address these problems .”


Katie Nicholson, Chair of the IOMBN, added: ‘This is the fifth ILS Debate that we’ve held now and, as ever, this topic proved to be both contentious yet engaging with our delegates. It really is one of the most important issues facing our Island now and it was fantastic to see so many people openly discussing what’s best for our future economic growth and prosperity. It’ll be interesting to see if the debate sparks any future changes to our work permit system.’

The Isle of Man Business Network (“IOMBN”) recently held an entertaining event celebrating ‘Home Grown Talent’; showcasing the people behind the local food and drink the Island loves. This was held on Monday 2nd October at Noa Bakehouse, in partnership with The Department of Environment, Food and Agriculture (“DEFA”).


The inspiration for the event came from the current ‘food revolution’ that the Island is experiencing, with a wealth of new local artisan food and drink producers on the scene, as well as an explosion of food and drink pop-ups across the Island. Isle of Man restaurants are also using local produce more than ever before, for example Rock Food Concepts have created a cocktail map of the Isle of Man, available at the Bath & Bottle Bar, with cocktails that showcase local Manx produce.


At the Isle of Man Food & Drink Festival 2017 the Manx Produce Marquee, Manx Cookery Theatre and Outdoor Catering area were packed to the brim with local food talent. Andrew Lees (DEFA’s Food Business Development Manager), who compared the evening, told delegates that for the first time there was a waiting list for food producers and retailers wanting a space at the festival.


To tell delegates more about these exciting times, the IOMBN invited some of the Island’s local food producers together to share their stories, how their businesses came about, the challenges they have faced and the opportunities they have found on the Isle of Man for setting up a business.


The event had a fantastic speaker line up, hearing from Noa Bakehouse, Roots Bev Co, Foraging Vintners, Apple Orphanage, Paula’s Kitchen and the Noa Bakehouse Food Assembly.


Richard Smith, Chairman of the Isle of Man Business Network said, “It was really interesting to hear from our local food producers. So many of us enjoy the food and drink these producers create, so it was a great opportunity to hear their stories; how they saw a niche in the market, a problem to be fixed, and had the courage and the passion to go for it, helping to make the Isle of Man a better place to live in the process.”


He continued, “It was inspirational to hear why they felt that the Isle of Man was ideal for setting up their business; from the quality of our apples, our premier bees and our friendly retailers who support local business, to the Isle of Man Government who help our fledgling business get off the ground.”


Great soft skills event last night with our speaker, Bransom Bean, on how to work a room and get the best out of networking. Thanks again to Crowe Morgan for sponsoring this event. Download Bransom’s “How to work a room” presentation slides here.


Please also find more information about Bransom and Fine Focus Business Coaching here.


We wanted you to know that in the coming weeks Bransom Bean, who spoke to us this week on “How To Work A Room”, is giving free 45 minute seminars on a variety of topics.


The topics and Eventbrite links are:


For each one you can choose 0730, 1230 or 1730 on the respective day.

The Isle of Man Business Network (“IOMBN”) is pleased to announce that it raised over £6,000 for local charity The Children’s Centre at its Annual Black Tie Ball on Friday 20th May.

The night started with a drinks reception in Tahiko sponsored by Estera, followed by the Ball in the Palace Hotel and Casino, sponsored by Barclays and compared by Peter Sutton of Barclays. The event attracted 170 guests with entertainment provided by guest speaker, David Bryon, followed by live music from local band Soul Suspects.

David Bryon, former Managing Director of bmibaby provided observations into a side of the aviation industry the passenger rarely sees, uncovering the truth about airport check-ins, in-flight communication, customer relations and other joys of 21st century air travel!

“The IOMBN ball is one of the biggest events in our social calendar and was once again a wonderful event,” said Rachael Hooper, Chairman of the IOMBN. “David Bryon was a great speaker; he combined business insights with pure comic genius and shared some great stories of what it’s like to work for an airline.”

“I’d like to thank everyone who came to ball and helped us raise so much money for our chosen charity, The Children’s Centre,” continued Rachael. “I would also like to say a huge thank you to Estera for sponsoring our drinks reception and to Barclays for sponsoring the dinner. Barclays donated £3,000 of matched fundraising which helped us raise an amazing £6,015 on the evening.”

The IOMBN also launched their new initiative on the night, TEAM IOMBN, to connect with the local community and give something back by getting involved in and helping out at events across the Island. If you would like to join TEAM IOMBN at The Children’s Centre annual Rounders Championship (Thursday 23rd June) or to register your interest to join TEAM IOMBN at other upcoming events, please let them know at

If you would like further information in respect to upcoming IOMBN events, please visit our website:

The Isle of Man Business Network (“IOMBN”) is pleased to announce their next learning event; with two updates from the Department of Economic Development (“DED”). Guest speakers Simon Pickering, Head of Retail Financial Services will discuss the Alternative Banking Regime and John Garland, Head of Corporate Financial Services will discuss Crowdfunding.

Taking place at The Claremont Hotel on Wednesday 11th May, Simon will present the Island’s new Alternative Banking Regime, covering why the Government have brought it in, what it looks to achieve and what the benefits will be to the Island when it is successful. John will talk about the imminent launch of the new “Class 6” licence for Debt & Equity Crowdfunding Platforms, which will make the Isle of Man the first International Business Centre to create a regulatory frame for Crowdfunding.

These are two very topical areas for the Isle of Man and we are looking forward to hearing about the upcoming changes in these fields.

Photograph: [L-R]: Richard Smith, Rachael Hooper, John Garland, Kate Parrish and Simon Pickering.

Simon’s role within the DED is responsible for driving forward and growing the Island’s Banking, Life Assurance, Pensions and Retail Financial sectors. His role has been extended to leading the Island’s High Net Worth Individual’s strategy and Tier 1 immigration promotion, and is also now involved in the Departments China and Latin American strategies. John took up his current role with the DED where he has responsibility for delivering Government’s Corporate Financial Services and Middle East strategies.

I’d like to thank both Simon and John for agreeing to speak to our members and guests about these two important subjects,” said Rachael Hooper, Chairman of the IOMBN. “These are two very topical areas for the Isle of Man and we are looking forward to hearing about the upcoming changes in these fields.”

Tickets cost £13 for IOMBN members and £16 for non-members.


  • 5.45pm – Registration and buffet available

  • 6.15pm – Presentation on Alternative Banking Regime

  • 6.45pm – Presentation on Crowdfunding

  • 7.15pm – Question & Answer session

  • 7.45pm – Event closes

Events coming soon

The IOMBN Annual Black Tie Ball – 20th May at 7.00pm, The Palace Hotel and Casino.

ISLEXPO event – 25th May at 8.00am, Villa Marina.

The Isle of Man Business Network (“IOMBN”) recently hosted their annual wine tasting networking event at Bar George on 17th March. The event was sold out with over 90 people attending. Guests formed teams and were invited to taste a selection of eight wines (four white and four reds) in a competition to match the wines to their descriptions. Even for those who didn’t know their Malbec from their Merlot, it was a great opportunity to make new contacts and catch-up with old friends!

The wine tasting was a really fun night,” said Rachael Hooper, Chairman of the IOMBN. “Our social and networking events really help promote what our organisation is about; actively encouraging our members [and non-members] to network and have the confidence to speak to new people. Our thanks go to the Sovereign Group who kindly sponsored the event, and to Bar George for helping us organise the event.”

The Isle of Man Business Network (“IOMBN”) is pleased to announce it will be supporting the Institute of Directors’ (“IOD”) Annual Spring Lunch on Friday 15th April at The Sefton Hotel with guest speaker Ruchir Rodrigues, Managing Director of Digital Banking at Barclays.

In his role, Ruchir Rodrigues is responsible for developing the business and commercial strategy, managing the roadmap and defining the customer experience for Digital channels, products and propositions across Personal and Corporate Banking.

It’s great to have the IOMBN on board for this year’s Spring Lunch,” said Clive Parrish, Chairman of the IOD. “We believe that our members share common goals and aspirations, it’s an ideal event to bring both the IOD and the IOMBN together. I’d like to thank the IOMBN committee for supporting this event and to Barclays for kindly sponsoring the lunch once again.”

The Lunch will also host the IOD’s inaugural Director of the Year Awards Ceremony, sponsored by Appleby, which will see the Judges announce and present the awards to some of the Island’s most exceptional and inspirational business leaders.

We are very pleased to be supporting the IOD’s Spring Lunch,” said Rachael Hooper, Chairman of the IOMBN. “As the Lunch will also host the first year of the IOD’s Director of the Year Awards ceremony, it will be an ideal event to bring the two organisations together to celebrate excellence in leadership on the Isle of Man.”

Please find details of our exciting event line up for March below, including an update from the Isle of Man Cabinet Office on the upcoming MONEYVAL visit. Later in the month and back by popular demand, we will be holding our Wine Tasting Challenge at Bar George. More details about the events and how to book on our Events Page.

Thank you to everyone who attended our recent events, Speed Networking sponsored by Paragon Recruitment and our annual Budget Breakfast with Treasury Minister Eddie Teare MHK, sponsored by ILS World. We’ve already heard some great stories about contacts made at our Speed Networking and we hope you found both of these events useful.

We will also be supporting an upcoming event hosted by Netcetera, who will be holding an all-day social media training event on Wednesday 16th March with Keren Lerner. IOMBN members will receive a £40 discount off the standard ticket price. More details on how to book at the Netcetera Events Page

Later in the year, on Friday 20th May, we will be holding our annual Black Tie Ball which will once again be an evening of good food, great conversation, music and also entertainment provided by our guest speaker, David Bryon, the former Managing Director of bmibaby. So make sure to put Friday 20th May in your diaries! We would like to thank Barclays for supporting this event once again.

We would also like to unveil our new website, built and sponsored by Futuretech, so please join us at and let us know what you think.

The Isle of Man Business Network (“IOMBN”) is pleased to announce it will be hosting a speed networking event on the 4th of February 2016. This event will be held in conjunction with the Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (“CIMA”).

Back by popular demand, the event will incorporate all of the elements of previous speed networking events held under the JCC IOM brand.

The IOMBN is delighted to once again welcome Paragon Recruitment as sponsors of the evening which will be held in the Courthouse Club (downstairs bar of The Courthouse) from 6pm on Thursday 4th February 2016. The evening will consist of a short presentation on successful networking skills followed by a speed networking session where you will be given to the chance to put those skills into practice!

“I’m very much looking forward to this event as our speed networking evenings are a perfect example of what the Isle of Man Business Network is about. The aim of the evening is for our members and guests to create new connections across all business sectors in a fun and relaxed setting,” said Rachael Hooper, Chairman of The IOMBN. “The evening also provides our attendees with the opportunity to learn techniques on how to present themselves and make the right impact in the professional market. I’d like to thank Paragon for supporting this event once again.”

...our speed networking evenings are a perfect example of what the Isle of Man Business Network is about.

To purchase tickets please visit the events section of our website at or to find out more please contact us at