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An internal memo sent to RBC employees Caribbean-wide has warned staff of an impending initiative by the bank to "aggressively reduce costs" in the early part of 2014, while promising that the bank will provide "the necessary support to those not able to secure other roles" within the bank.
In the letter sent on January 23, obtained by Guardian Business, Suresh Sookoo, CEO, Caribbean banking, RBC, and Kirk Dudtschak, president, Caribbean banking, RBC, said that the bank is seeking to "reposition and strengthen RBC Caribbean in the year ahead", adding: "This hasn't been - and will not be - an easy process."
The letter was sent out days before RBC announced plans to sell its Jamaican operation, RBC Jamaica, to Sagicor Group Jamaica, a rival financial institution, for an undisclosed price. This action was followed two days ago by the decision at RBC Financial (Caribbean) Ltd, owned by RBC, to send home 20 employees from its Business Development Unit at a number of branches across Trinidad and Tobago.
The memo from the executives points to a plan to have "most of the changes complete or in progress by the end of April", which suggests that more significant shifts may be to come for the bank in the region beyond these announcements.
According to an RBC Bahamas employee, speaking on condition of anonymity, the letter was sent to Bahamian staff of the bank, sparking concerns about potential downsizing in operations in this country.
In the letter Sookoo and Dudtschak said that the bank has been operating "in a period of low growth and considerable uncertainty given the weak economic environment in many parts of the Caribbean".
"We are continuing to restructure and improve our business to better lead in the markets we serve and to sustainably strengthen our business performance, service and competitiveness. This includes maintaining our focus on customers and business growth, while aggressively reducing costs.
"This work will accelerate in the early part of 2014 as we seek to ensure we are operating as efficiently and effectively as possible, while being focused on the markets in which we can be a leading competitor. Our aim is to have most of the changes either complete or in progress by the end of April. This hasn't been - and will not be - an easy process, given the impact on you, our employees."
The bank said it is looking carefully at how it works "across all levels of our organization".
"Please be assured that as specific changes are determined, they will be
communicated to impacted employees and clients with as much lead time as possible. As always, where employees are impacted, we will provide the necessary support to those not able to secure other roles within RBC," the executives added.
With the letter, RBC has joined FirstCaribbean International Bank and Scotiabank Bahamas in indicating plans to reduce costs in the Caribbean in a manner that could, or will, impact employees in this country.
While just being brought to public attention, the RBC memo was released on the same day - January 23 - as Scotiabank Bahamas held meetings with some of its potentially impacted employees over plans to "centralize" its operations within the Caribbean in order to enhance "efficiency and effectiveness" within the Canadian bank.
While unclear on whether job losses would result from its movement of certain functions to its Caribbean South Hub, based in Trinidad and Tobago, Scotiabank Bahamas said it would offer voluntary separation packages and try to accommodate staff in other areas.
FirstCaribbean announced plans to reduce costs via downsizing in its staff numbers in The Bahamas last October, starting by offering employees voluntary separation packages. To date, the bank has yet to reveal how many redundancies may occur at the bank, with this number having been said to be determined by the take-up of the voluntary separation offer. The bank had been hard hit by loan defaults.
Guardian Business sought a statement from RBC Bahamas on potential Bahamas-based implications of the bank's plans, but a statement was said to be forthcoming up to press time.
Despite a decision made by the Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) to sell its Jamaican banking operations, the bank said it has "no plans to divest any other assets in the Caribbean" and is committed to growing its Bahamian operations.
In a statement released by the bank late yesterday in response to news of the sale of RBC Jamaica, RBC said: "The sale of our Jamaica operations is an important step in allowing us to focus our efforts and business on the Caribbean markets in which we can lead and operate on a sustainable basis.
"In The Bahamas, we have a leading full service franchise, which includes deep, long-term client relationships, strong business performance and highly committed, effective employees.
"We are committed to growing our operations here and in other countries across the region. [But] like other businesses and individuals, RBC is navigating through challenging economic times in The Bahamas and Caribbean."
RBC also announced in a statement that it has entered into a definitive agreement to sell RBC Royal Bank (Jamaica) Limited and RBTT Securities Jamaica Limited (collectively "RBC Jamaica") to Sagicor Group Jamaica Limited.
"Consistent with our strategy of being a competitive leader in the markets
where we operate, we determined after a careful and thorough review that the best decision for the long-term future success of RBC Jamaica was to sell it to Sagicor," said Suresh Sookoo, CEO of RBC Caribbean. "Sagicor is a well established financial franchise in Jamaica with the size, scale and complementary capabilities that RBC Jamaica does not currently possess."
"RBC has operated in the Caribbean for over 100 years and remains committed to this region. This transaction will allow us to successfully reposition our Caribbean business for the future and focus on regions where we have significant market share," said Dave McKay, group head, Personal & Commercial Banking, RBC. "We are focused on strengthening our business performance, service and competitiveness in markets where we can be a leading competitor over the long term."
The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, including regulatory approvals and is expected to be finalized in the coming months.
RBC expects the transaction to result in an estimated loss of $60 million Canadian dollars (before and after-tax).
"In the Bahamas, we have a leading full service franchise, which includes deep, long term client relationships, strong business performance and highly committed, effective employees," the statement went on to say.
"We are addressing weak financial performance in some counties and we are focused on strengthening our position in the region for the long term."
RBC Royal Bank and RBC FINCO yesterday announced plans to create a third shared banking location, which will lead to "across the board" redundancies.
The move is part of an effort to cut costs, improve efficiency and give better customer satisfaction, according to Nathaniel Beneby Jr., RBC Royal Bank's managing director in The Bahamas, Cayman Islands and Turks & Caicos Islands.
The restructuring process is ongoing, Beneby said, adding that he could not say how many employees will be let go.
Some of the affected workers have applied for other job opportunities within the bank and have already secured different positions, Beneby said.
"Those who will be disengaged, we have enhanced packages and we are providing very strong support to our employees," he told reporters at a press conference.
"We are confident, at the end of the day, that the net reduction will be favorable."
Beneby added that the bank is operating in an environment of "increasing costs" and said staff reduction is just one measure to scale back expenses.
"We are looking at all of our operating costs," he said.
"We are taking a holistic approach at managing costs, for example, real estate costs, stationary and printing, cleaning. Staff costs are just another cost line."
When asked if high levels of loan arrears affected the bank's decision, Tanya McCartney, managing director of RBC FINCO, said that, while high, the bank's non-performing loans are below industry standards.
McCartney is also preparing to leave the bank in May, a move unrelated to the layoff announcement.
RBC FINCO's main branch on Shirley and Charlotte Streets will relocate to RBC Royal Bank's main branch on Bay Street as of May 12.
RBC FINCO's Mortgage Centre in the Prince Charles Shopping Plaza will be consolidated with RBC FINCO's Carmichael Road branch as of May 5.
The other shared location is in Grand Bahama.
The three shared locations will have integrated customer service.
"This means that RBC FINCO customers will make deposits, cash withdrawals, foreign exchange purchases, wire transfers, these all will be done at the RBC location," Beneby said.
"The objective here, really, is to create a one stop shop concept for our customers, particularly the RBC FINCO customers. They will now have the benefit of access to the full suite of products and services of Royal Bank."
The announcement came nearly a month after officials from UBS (Bahamas) said 70 employees would be impacted by the closure of its private banking unit over the next 10 months.
In January, Scotiabank confirmed its plans to move certain functions from The Bahamas to Trinidad and Tobago in an effort to enhance "the efficiency and effectiveness" of its operations.
It is unclear how staff levels will be impacted because of Scotiabank's move.
NASSAU, Bahamas -- RBC Royal Bank announced yesterday a donation of $180,000 to continue the RBC Royal Bank Scholarship for another three years. This grant will provide three Bahamian students with $15,000 per year to undertake undergraduate studies in areas critical to the continued development of The Bahamas.
"This programme is life-changing for the scholarship recipients," said Mr. Nathaniel Beneby, Managing Director of RBC Royal Bank in The Bahamas, Cayman and Turks & Caicos. "The students are selected based on their academic achievements, and also based on financial need. These students likely would not have the ability to attend college abroad, were it not for this scholarship award."
RBC initiated the scholarship fund in 2008 with a $200,000 gift that created the RBC Royal Bank Scholarship at the Canadian Lyford Cay Foundation. The programme allows Bahamian students to pursue undergraduate studies at colleges and universities in Canada.
Ms. Martiniqua Moxey received one of the first RBC Royal Bank scholarships. With the support of the RBC scholarship, Ms. Moxey was able to attend Trent University in Peterborough, Ontario, Canada. She graduated in 2011 with a Joint Honours Bachelor of Arts in Economics and International Political Economy. During her summers she worked at RBC in Canada and in The Bahamas, gaining valuable work experience.
In May 2012, Ms. Moxey returned to The Bahamas and obtained a position as a Research Officer at the Central Bank of the Bahamas. "The scholarship I received from RBC and Lyford Cay set the stage for where I am now," said Ms. Moxey. "Every day I experience the trickle down effects of this scholarship. It gave me the opportunity to receive a world-class education. As a result, I continue to volunteer with high school students through mentorship and tutoring, so that they too are aware of the options available to them. I am forever grateful to RBC for all they have done for me."
Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) has appointed two female financial planners to head its financial planning practice in The Bahamas.
Alicia Bain-Thompson and Christina Kenny-Sands, both accredited personal financial planners (PFPs), received their appointments after completing nine months of intensive study with the Canadian Securities Institute (CSI) to obtain their PFP accreditation.
"We are pleased to be focusing on this new practice area for RBC and to be in a position to help clients develop sound financial plans," said Kenny-Sands.
"When working with clients we discover what is important to them and then strategize with them to help them meet their goals."
Bain-Thompson said RBC's financial planning process takes a comprehensive approach to each client's situation. It includes looking at cash flow, debt management, tax planning, investment planning, risk management, retirement planning and estate planning.
RBC's financial planners primarily work with clients who, given the size and composition of their banking portfolios and assets, require more sophisticated financial guidance and expertise.
Bain-Thompson joined RBC Royal Bank in 1990 as a customer service representative. She has held progressively larger roles with the bank, including management trainee, personnel training officer and senior account manager.
During her 23-year tenure, she has gained broad financial services experience in the areas of investments, mortgages and loans.
Bain-Thompson has a bachelor of arts degree in business administration from Sojourner Douglas College and an associate of arts degree in business administration from The College of The Bahamas.
Kenny-Sands has seven and half years of banking experience, having started her RBC career as a mortgage specialist for RBC FINCO in 2010. In that role she prepared mortgage analysis and assessments and conducted financial planning and product presentations for clients.
Prior to joining RBC, Kenny-Sands worked for another international bank as a senior client account representative, gaining extensive knowledge of financial and investment products, and conducting credit analysis for both consumer loans and mortgages.
Kenny-Sands has a bachelor of science degree in technical management from DeVry University and an associate of arts degree from The College of The Bahamas in computer data processing.
"The discovery process we use at RBC allows our financial planners to gain a solid understanding of what is most important in their clients' lives, including their broader life goals," said Nathaniel Beneby, market head, personal banking, RBC Bahamas, Cayman and Turks and Caicos Islands.
"They use this information to develop detailed and tailored plans for achieving the clients' high-priority items, in the short, medium and long term."
"Financial planners have intimate knowledge of cutting-edge products and services available and provide ongoing advice to clients," added Bain-Thompson.
"We help clients to set realistic personal and financial goals and develop a comprehensive plan toward the achievement of those goals."
NASSAU, Bahamas - RBC Royal Bank is sponsoring the Hands for Hunger gift wrapping booth in the centre court at the Mall at Marathon during the holiday season. The gift-wrapping service will be available during mall hours from Saturday, December 7, through Tuesday, December 24, 2013, with all proceeds benefitting Hands for Hunger. Last year, this initiative helped raise more than $10,000 toward Hands For Hunger's mission and vision of reducing food waste and ending hunger on our island.
"RBC has long supported initiatives aimed at giving back directly to the people most in need in our community," said Mr. Nathaniel Beneby, Jr., Managing Director, RBC Royal Bank, Bahamas, Cayman and Turks and Caicos Islands. "This initiative is one that is especially important as many families look to Hands for Hunger during the holidays to enable them to make ends meet." Many RBC employees will be volunteering at the Hands for Hunger gift wrapping booth. Community members interested in volunteering for a four-hour shift can contact Hands for Hunger at (242) 327-1660.
"We are very grateful to RBC for its support," said Ms. Abigail Asgaralli, Executive Director Hands For Hunger. "RBC's involvement in our gift wrapping initiative will help to provide funding for our food rescue program, food security research and education programs."
This sponsorship is one of the many ways RBC is giving back to the community. RBC is also sponsoring several holiday events planned by the Salvation Army, including the 2013 Annual Christmas Community & Seniors Luncheon on December 18, 2013, from noon to 2:30 p.m., and a Children's Christmas Party for children in need on December 21, 2013 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. RBC staff members will also volunteer at these events. Community members interested in volunteering at either event may sign up at the Salvation Army Centre.
FREEPORT, Grand Bahama -- RBC Royal Bank Freeport staff recently left their desks behind to remove litter from the sands of Xanadu Beach. Several bags of waste were collected in just a few hours by 15 RBC staff volunteers. Located close to town, Xanadu Beach is a popular spot. Visitors and residents frequent the beach to enjoy the scenery or take a dip in the water.
Beach cleanup is an important element in maintaining healthy oceans which provide a safe environment for marine animals. RBC is committed to protecting local ecosystems and preserving natural resources. Last year RBC donated $7.4 million to environmental charities around the world. This obligation to environmental sustainability is an investment in the future of the planet.
Jillian Rolle-Butler, Operations Support Officer, RBC Royal Bank, and leader of the volunteer team, explained, "The clean-up effort was a success and had a positive impact on Xanadu beach. We just have to be better at keeping our shores free of debris." Mrs. Rolle-Butler also expressed her hope that the activity will set a good example, and encourage others to do the same.
"As part of our corporate citizenship we recognise that we have responsibilities not only towards our customers, employees and shareholders but also to the countries and communities in which we operate", said Mr. Nathaniel Beneby, Market Head, Personal Banking, for The Bahamas, Cayman and Turks & Caicos Islands. He continued, "Our staff volunteers take pride in these activities and we were very encouraged to see the positive impact that this initiative has had on Xanadu beach."
The clean-up initiative was supported by the RBC Day of Service Grant. The grant encourages and supports employees who respond to a community need by volunteering their free time and efforts to various charities. In addition to their volunteer initiatives, the RBC Day of Service Grant provides financial assistance to the organisations employees opt to work with. These organisations cover a broad range including: social, cultural and environmental. RBC celebrated Volunteer Week earlier this year and in its honour, the RBC Day of Service Grant program was established.
In commemoration of World Mental Health Month, which is celebrated in The Bahamas during October, RBC recently announced the introduction of the RBC Children's Mental Health Project. World Mental Health Day, which is supported by the United Nations (UN), is celebrated internationally on October 10 and supports the need to raise public awareness about mental health issues worldwide.
Valencia R. Richardson, a fifth grade student at Uriah McPhee Primary School, was the recipient of the RBC Innovative Science Summer Camp Scholarship.
Valencia was selected as the recipient by her school as a result of her stellar school record, including regular school attendance, academics and positive school spirit.
"My two weeks at Innovative Science Summer Camp was an exciting learning experience," said Richardson. "We learned how things around us work and about nature. The rocket blasting was great. Science camp was fun because it was hands-on. I thank RBC for the opportunity."
RBC Royal Bank sponsored the camp financially in the form of the scholarship that was awarded to Valencia as well as a contribution toward the camp's general expenses.
"We are proud to sponsor the Innovative Science Summer Camp," said Jan Knowles, RBC manager, public relations and corporate communications. "RBC firmly believes every child needs and deserves our complete commitment so they can be healthy in mind, body and spirit."
The mission of Innovative Science Summer Camp is to make science and learning about science a fun experience for children. Participants at the camp conducted experiments to test their hypotheses to scientific questions that they had always wanted to know the answers to. They learned how to recycle and what items are able to be recycled in The Bahamas. Campers also grew crystals and made designer candles, ice cream and goo. The camp culminated with a parents' day, during which parents were invited to see what the students learned during the camp. During parents' day, each child made a presentation explaining how he or she formed a project hypothesis and the research he or she undertook to test the hypothesis.
"Science education and the important role it plays in the development of children usually takes a back seat to reading and math," said Sheena Davis, president of Innovative Science. "Although these subjects are crucial, the role science plays in the educational development of children needs to be acknowledged. Everything we do on a daily basis involves science -- from breathing to growing our food. Science education fuels the natural curiosity that children have and provides them not only with a potential future career, but valuable critical thinking skills that they will use throughout all of life."
Davis said in a global economy where innovation provides a competitive edge, science education is important to the advancement of children.
She thanked RBC for its sponsorship of the camp and the scholarship that provided an opportunity for a child to grow and develop through science.
Innovative Science is run all year and provides after-school programs, in-class workshops, science-themed birthday parties, corporate fun days and environmental awareness exhibitions.
"Our summer camp and after-school program students have primarily come from the private school system, but this year, through the support of our scholarship donors, including RBC, we were able to host three students from the public school system," said Davis.