Rainbow-coloured bubbles streamed right above my head, blown by a playful child with a bubble-pipe, as I wandered through the colourful Divali Nagar site on Monday.
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In aftermath of Clico collapse and other controversies T&T’s banking system strong
Despite the collapse of CL Financial and other recent controversies, T&T’s banking and financial system remains strong, Anya Schnoor, managing director of Scotiabank said yesterday. “It is very much a sound financial platform. The Central Bank has really stepped up its monitoring activities. Post-Clico the financial industry has been strengthened. I think now there is a lot more with the introduction of the Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) and other rules that have come in last decade. It has strengthened the supervision of the industry. “There is more to be done. The Insurance Act needs to be passed and they are also looking at the credit unions to have regulations there,” she said.
Schnoor spoke to the media yesterday during 60th anniversary celebrations at Scotiabank’s Frederick Street, Port-of-Spain, branch. She described the banking industry in T&T as “tremendously strong” and said: “If you look at how the industry survived 2008...other than Clico that had particular issues which were peculiar to Clico, the rest of the banking system stood up very strong and has actually grown since then. T&T is uniquely placed as it has a very strong financial services industry and it is well regulated and has good oversight.”
Schnoor said Scotiabank was now in 22 locations across T&T and was one of the country’s largest employers. “We now have over 200,000 customers in T&T with an asset base of $20 billion. It is a very large bank and we employ over 1,400 people, so we are one of the largest private sector employers in the country. We are very proud of our history and what we have done over the past 60 years,” she said. Schnoor added that Scotiabank had done a lot to remain competitive. “We won best internet bank last year, which was the fourth year in a row in T&T. We have spent a lot of money upgrading our technology infrastructure. We have almost 100 ATMs across the island which provide our clients with banking services,” she said. “We have launched a number of new products over the last few years. We launched our TT dollar mutual fund, we have an insurance company in the group and we will be launching new products.”
She said Scotiabank would be interested if the Clico portfolio went up for sale. “We always look at any opportunities to grow. I am not sure what the plan is but I have read in the newspapers that it may be up for sale. We will always look for any opportunities if it fits in our profile and what we are looking for as we grow in the country,” said Schnoor. Commenting on recent foreign exchange supply problems, Schnoor said Scotiabank was in “constant dialogue” through the Bankers Association of T&T (BATT) with the Central Bank. “We have a good collaboration and we have had a number of meetings. I am sure it will get to the point where foreign exchange will be easily accessible in the market. It will take time and is not an overnight switch,” she said.
Guests at yesterday’s anniversary celebrations included businessman Jimmy Aboud, the first customer of the branch when it opened 60 years ago, who boasted that he intended to remain a customer for “60 more years”.