FROM THE GROUND UP

Jamaica 2018 | FINANCE | INTERVIEW

TBY talks to Earl Jarrett, CEO of the Jamaica National Group, on fighting for Jamaicans for a century and a half, the importance of continual innovation, and superior customer service.

Earl Jarrett
BIOGRAPHY
CEO of the Jamaica National Group, Earl Jarrett is a member of the board of all the group’s local and overseas subsidiaries. He is also Chairman of the JN Foundation, Jamaica Automobile Association, overseas subsidiary companies of JN Money Services, Jamaica Cancer Society, Jamaican Diaspora Foundation, and Mona Geoinformatics Institute. He serves on the boards of several external organisations, including the Inter-American Dialogue. He holds an LL.D, JP, FCA, and an MSc in accounting.

What is your group's vision and contribution to Jamaica?

With 144 years of history behind us, the group has always sought to ensure that its products and services are accessible to all Jamaicans, facilitate their individual growth and development, and assist them in achieving their respective financial aspirations. As a pioneer in providing home ownership through the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) for more than 14 decades, the organization has served to elevate the prospects of Jamaicans wherever in the world they live. This ethos is underpinned by a deep commitment to the concept of mutuality, where all members have the same rights irrespective of the level of their business with us. JNBS has consistently supported and fostered a sense of innovation throughout its 144-year history. Examples of these span both JN's business expansions as well as its numerous corporate social responsibility initiatives. This commitment to bold innovation and to serving the country has always been the foci of its strategy, which we plan to continue into the future. Our initiative with Microsoft 17 years ago, for example, revolutionized the local remittance sector with the introduction of internet-based remittances through one of our subsidiaries, JN Money Services (JNMS). At that time, it took days or weeks to deliver remittances to Jamaica. JN, however, decided to boldly challenge this and partner with a world-class innovator to deliver a new and more efficient way to remit funds to Jamaica. That spurred one of JNMS' popular slogans, 'As you quint it reach!', allowing people to receive a remittance the very same day that it was sent. That is routine today, but 17 years ago was a bold innovation. JN has always been committed to improving the welfare of its members and the wider Jamaican community. In the area of education, the JN Group, with its roots in rural Jamaica, helped its members by directly improving education in concert with the Ministry of Education via the Centres of Excellence and iLead programs.

How have you restructured and rebranded the group into a commercial bank?

JN Bank was launched in early 2017, emerging from the previous Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS), which dated back to the Westmoreland Building Society in 1874. With the ardent support of our members, JNBS was restructured to become the Jamaica National Group, a holding company that would facilitate member companies in conjunction with two other holding companies of the group. The services of some of these companies had been restricted for being direct subsidiaries of a deposit-taking institution, so the building society was converted to a commercial bank and is now JN Bank, an independent subsidiary, while JN Fund Managers (JNFM) is the investment management company within the group. There is also JN General Insurance Company (JNGI), JN Life Insurance (JNLI), and JN Cayman, a building society in the Cayman Islands, a subsidiary of JN Bank. Other member companies of the financial services group are JN Small Business Loans (JNSBL) and JN Money Services (JNMS), the remittance company.

What is your growth strategy in a competitive financial sector?

JN Bank has become the dominant non-government mortgage player in Jamaica with more than 600,000 members and approximately 20,000 persons who access mortgages from the company. Our banking model is built on respect for all members, which resulted in our superior customer engagement. This theme of respect is echoed throughout all the subsidiaries in the group. This central value proposition of customer service drives a significant portion of our activities across all our entities. As a group, the management team met a year ago and established about five or six objectives, which included remaining the premier mixed conglomerate in Jamaica and increasing our international business, among others.