The theme of this year’s Conference – Beyond The Pandemic – could not have been timelier. Approximately 150 delegates met to discuss how the banking community has been affected by the pandemic, and how the sector can continue leading the way in helping Caribbean economies recover. And indeed, the need for banks to take a leadership role was emphasised by His Excellency, Dr. Didacus Jules, Director General of the Organisation of Eastern Caribbean States (OECS) as well as Honourable Mia Mottley, Prime Minister of Barbados.
Delivering the featured remarks at the Opening Ceremony, Dr. Jules addressed the topic of Resilience through Innovative and Creative Leadership. “Leadership in banking, as in any other sector in times such as these, is not just about the exercise of internal strategic and operational direction within one’s organisation,” he opined. “It is equally about how your organisation can be an innovation leader in its sphere of operation…
“Building resilience is simply not possible without the exercise of innovative and creative leadership, in all sectors, and at all levels. We can no longer reside in the zone of complacency that expects regulatory and government structures to be the arbiter of innovation. Especially in small island developing states, we are simply too small. The circumstance of catastrophe requires multi-sectoral, inclusive, whole-of-society approaches.”
For her part, Prime Minister Mottley gave the Keynote Address on the subject, The COVID Crisis – Weathering the Pandemic. “Banks play a critical role in our community and society and hence it is important that you reflect on these topics in the midst of this pandemic as you are doing,” she noted. “You channel savings to borrowers, you connect us, and for the most part across the region you have stepped up to the plate in this tough crisis and played a responsible role, a caring community role.
“We need your help to put banking back to the centre of our economies, helping to drive investment, economic activity, and customer service. We don’t want you to be skeptical, passive bystanders with shrinking influence, but we want you to play a leadership role in our community and our countries… I have every confidence that banks operating in the third decade of the 21st century in the Caribbean will understand that their role has to be to be an engine of catalytic growth for our economies, for our consumers, for our businesses. And if we do so, then we shall weather this pandemic and present ourselves as fit for purpose to meet all of the challenges that may confront us.”
On Day 1 of the Conference, presentations were also received from Mr. Enrique O’Reilly, Regional Director, Temenos; Mr. Blair Buchanan, Howden Insurance Brokers; Mr. Lyndon Guiseppi, Chief Executive Officer, Belize Bank; Mr. Septimus “Bob” Blake, Chief Executive Officer, NCB Jamaica; Mr. Nigel Baptiste, Chief Executive Officer, Republic Financial Holdings Limited; Mr. Dmitri Dawkins, Commercial Director – Phoenix International, MC Systems; Mr. Christopher Louard, Director of Bank Supervision, Eastern Caribbean Central Bank (ECCB); Gov. John Rolle, Central Bank of the Bahamas; Mrs. Cheryl Greenidge, Director of Bank Supervision, Central Bank of Barbados; Mr. Prakash Mungra, Executive Director, Centrale Bank Van Aruba; and Mr. David Green, Hitachi Security Systems.
On Day 2, speakers included Mr. Robert Moncrieff, Global International Tax and Transaction Services Leader & Regional Economic Substance Leader, EY; Mr. Dalton Lee, Bank Of Montserrat; Ms. Joanna Charles, ACB Caribbean; Mr. L. Everette Martin, Bank Of Nevis; Mrs. Annette Severin-Lestrade, National Bank Of Dominica; Mr. David McConney, Executive Director, Caribbean, Infosys | Finacle; Sra. Fabiola Herrera, Deputy Manager Systems and Innovation, Banco Central de la República Dominicana; Mr. Francis Fontenelle, Senior Banking Specialist, Eastern Caribbean Central Bank; Ms. Elizabeth Riley, Executive Director, Caribbean Disaster Emergency Management Agency (CDEMA); Dr. Joy St. John, Executive Director, The Caribbean Public Health Agency (CARPHA); Ms. Maria Eugenia Sosa Taborda, Latin America and Caribbean Coordinator, UNEP FI; and Mr. Ray T. Klien, Head of Investment Banking, Republic Bank.
Ms. Tanya McCartney, CEO & Executive Director, Bahamas Financial Services Board, bookended the proceedings with a stirring exhortation to delegates to overcome the prevailing situation and to collaborate and innovate so as to lead robust recovery and chart the way forward as a region.
The Florida International Bankers Association (FIBA) provided eight continuing education credits for Conference delegates, and over 40 practitioners from around the region took advantage of a one-day FIBA training in anti-money laundering and correspondent banking.