Citi is bringing international standards to Jamaica. Our business is very much focused on delivering our global platform of products to our client base in Jamaica through our strong partnerships with our global product partners. We play an extremely important role in the public sector and for local financial institutions that are important clients. As the only locally domiciled US international bank, and having been here for the last 57 years, it sends a strong signal of Citi's commitment to Jamaica, and hopefully our international brand provides a clear message to the international investment community, the multilateral agencies and the rating agencies of our continued support to the development of the economy. We are proud of the role we have played leading several landmark transactions for our clients in Jamaica, including the two very successful voluntary government domestic debt exchanges in 2010 and 2013 executed in partnership with our New York product partners, as well as a PetroCaribe debt buy back in 2015, which allowed for a significant reduction in the government's external debt. Our local relationship management, aligned with strong global support, allows us to deliver our products with unique added value.
Citi Country Officer/Corporate and Investment Bank Head, Citi Jamaica
CEO, First Global Bank
It is important to create a culture in which people enjoy working and feel that they can develop and achieve their full potential. While that is not specific to banking, I feel there is an opportunity for firms in the private sector, as leaders, to focus more on how we treat our employees and how we create a great culture. We have made some progress. However, we still have a long way to go. And that is true throughout the country, not specific to us. What gets me excited about my job is the ability to come in and figure out how to put together a leadership team that motivates others. The second thing is, because of how we are positioned in the industry, we are the people that can go to new frontiers and really make a difference. We are pursuing a strategy of financial inclusion. We do well because we have more customers and are getting more people into the banking system. We are a part of the conglomerate GraceKennedy Limited. We have a sister company that handles remittances with hundreds of thousands of customers. We, at the bank, have far fewer customers. A portion of our remittance customers do not have a bank account, or they have a bank account that is not with First Global Bank. Our group opportunity is to locate ourselves within the remittance business through an innovative concept we call satellite branches. They are little kiosks and a teller window. Basic banking services will be available at any of these locations.
CEO, JMMB Bank
The commercial bank JMMB Bank came out of the Capital and Credit Financial Group, a group acquired by the JMMB Group in 2012. When we took over the reins in July 2012, we began by setting out to rebuild with the objective of being able to eventually apply for a commercial banking license. Year on year since then, we have been growing faster than the sector in terms of loans and deposits. Of course, we set about fixing the prudential benchmarks over time to ensure we would be on side with the regulators. We then applied for the commercial bank license in March 2016, received approval in September 2016, and launched in August 2017. While operating as JMMB Merchant Bank we had two challenges: the cost of funding and attracting depositors. This was largely driven by the different prudential benchmarks across the industry, which meant that we had a higher cost of funding as a merchant bank, which made it more difficult to operate. In addition, if another financial institution placed deposits with a merchant bank, it is not considered part of their 26% liquid asset requirement. Therefore, although other financial institutions could have gotten a higher interest rate depositing with a merchant bank, they did not.