2015: A Year of Change
30 Jan 2015
For the past 26 years, Bank of The Bahamas has been committed to providing the best service and products to Bahamians. We remain steadfast in our mission to offer superior service and maintain our Bahamian identity.
Bank of The Bahamas is committed to giving back to the community. Over the years, we have been honoured to take part in many of our bank’s volunteer endeavours. To name a few, we have ridden side by side with cancer survivors in a bike-a-thon to raise money for cancer research and education.
We have worked closely with the “Love That Child program”, and have worked with the Police Force summer youth camps.
We have introduced several new and exciting products over the last two years.
We are the first in the country to offer non-envelope cash deposits at our bob express atms.In February we launched e-Notifier, an electronic application that provides text and email updates to customers.We launched the rate escalator, a three-year, tiered interest, fixed deposit that produces higher yields for deposits of $50,000 or more.
Each of these new products and services was designed to bring greater value to our customers.
Since then we have also become the card processor for the Department of Social Services' pilot prepaid card programme.
We have also welcomed 2500 new depositors in the last quarter of this year.
This past year has also been a year of challenges, which we met with typical Bahamian determination.
As you know, on October 31st the government, the Central Bank and I, announced the transfer of $100 million in non-performing loans to Bahamas Resolve Limited.
This event has alleviated some of BOB’s exposure to non-performing loans, it immediately improved the quality of bob’s banking assets, it enhanced the book value of bob shares, and it moved us back into compliance with domestic and international standards for capital adequacy.
In addition to ensuring such compliance, the move is intended to better position the bank to return to profitability and growth.
The Central Bank of the Bahamas recently published their October economic and financial developments report. In the wake of our transfer of non-performing loans to resolve, non-performing loans in the system as of October 2014 fell by 4.5% since June.
We are moving forward and making changes to ensure that Bank of Bahamas continues to provide the highest quality products to our loyal customers and that the bank can return to providing the value and returns that our shareholders have enjoyed for more than 20 years.
I must acknowledge, however, that in the past there were challenges with overall credit governance and risk management. An internal credit review in 2010 identified specific issues, which included a number of problematic assets. The report also contained recommendations on a plan of action needed to address the situation.
I should also note that experience with problematic assets coming out of the global recession was not unique to BOB. Most banks around the world experienced some form of similar challenges.
However, to address the challenges that were identified with regards to management of credit risk activities, the board of directors at that time introduced new measures of credit governance and accountability. Bob’s current board of directors continues to enhance these measures with the guidance of the Central Bank of The Bahamas.
Along the same line, the managing director is accountable to the board for what transpired and is responsible for remediating the challenges identified within the bank.
Beginning in 2010 I took action to ensure bob benefited from a team of qualified team of people to meet the banking needs ofBahamians and minimize exposure to troubled loans. In this regard, and although not publicized, the credit risk regime was completely revamped in that not one member of the 2009-2010 corporate credit business department is in this bank’s employment today. This was done to ensure BOB was being more judicious and transparent when evaluating and approving loans.
We have since introduced a new credit risk manager and a new credit business manager, with clear lines of segregation. Moreover, the levels of accountability to the board continues to grow in line with good governance practices.
A new risk regime now exists that limits our exposure to any single relationship to levels that more appropriately limit material risk to the bank’s capital capacity.
Other changes have been made within the bank to best match skillsets and experience to the current business environment. This principle continues to guide our decisions.
Within the last 24 months and as recent as early December, significant changes in the executive management structure of the bank have taken place.
For example, the bank appointed a new acting chief operating officer, a new chief financial officer and a new general counsel.
Even our board of directors underwent reorganization.
I will also state that, like all banks, BOB and i take seriously the matter of succession planning.
Like any other business, it is of utmost importance that succession planning be front and centre in order to position the company’s leadership for success.
In this regard, as mentioned, I am pleased to recognize the appointment of Mrs. Renee Davis to the position of acting chief operating officer effective 8th December, 2014. With this move, Mr. Wayde Christie, the second most senior official at the bank, will spearhead the execution of the new credit governance changes, while continuing to mentor executive and senior staff who will focus more on the day-to-day management of the bank.
As you can see, considerable focus going forward is on leadership succession. In this regard, I will also be assisting in succession planning activities to prepare for the next managing director of the bank. Announcements on the timeline for this transition will be made in due course.
So, 2015 will be a year of change. Change of strategic focus in terms of the bank’s business model, and likely more change in the leadership ranks of the bank.
My sole focus right now is the future of the bank –continuing to do what needs to be done to get the bank back on track. Back to Bank of The Bahamas that has been profitable for 20 consecutive years.
I have great confidence and immense pride in Bank of The Bahamas and its future, and I will continue to work diligently to restore the bank in the interest of all Bahamians.
I want to thank each of you for your support, confidence and continued loyalty to Bank of the Bahamas by working to enhance our share performance, profitability and growth.
(The preceding is an excerpt from the Managing Director’s Remarks which were delivered at BOB’s AGM on December 18, 2014).