In With the New for Caribbean As­so­ci­a­tion of Banks

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL - By Clau­dia Elei­box

Caribbean As­so­ci­a­tion of Banks (CAB) re­leased to the pub­lic its freshly de­signed logo and newly tai­lored motto on Fri­day 29 Septem­ber, 2017 at an el­e­gant launch hosted at Tapas on the Bay. The af­fair ex­uded the ba­sic el­e­ments of the or­gan­i­sa­tion, es­pe­cially some of its pro­claimed main pil­lars: ef­fec­tive ad­vo­cacy, pre­mium net­work­ing plat­form, fa­cil­i­ta­tion of in­dus­try, co­op­er­a­tion and har­mon­i­sa­tion, and re­li­able and rel­e­vant sources of in­for­ma­tion.

On the three-per­son panel slated to present was Joanna Charles, CAB Chair­per­son whose in­tro­duc­tion en­com­passed every­thing that CAB has so far ac­com­plished on be­half of its mem­bers. Its goal is to “re­main rel­e­vant in ac­cor­dance with its vi­sion”, and to be the col­lec­tive voice that pro­tects, pro­motes and strength­ens the re­gional bank­ing sec­tor.

CAB is faced with con­stant trans­fig­u­ra­tion within the fi­nan­cial in­dus­try with re­gards to tech­nol­ogy, leg­is­la­tion and fi­nan­cial crimes, but con­tin­ues to ad­vo­cate es­pe­cially against de-risk­ing (the loss of cor­re­spon­dent bank­ing re­la­tion­ships), an is­sue with which re­gional banks have re­cently been faced. Derisk­ing refers to the prac­tice of ma­jor, in­ter­na­tional fi­nan­cial in­sti­tu­tions clos­ing re­la­tion­ships with banks be­cause they are per­ceived as “high-risk” and ar­eas in the Caribbean as tax havens.

Charles noted, “Many of our na­tional banks have been sub­ject to de-risk­ing; cur­rently some of them have no re­la­tion­ships at all or a re­duced num­ber of re­la­tion­ships.”

The loss of those re­la­tion­ships can es­sen­tially desta­bi­lize lo­cal economies and gravely im­pact the lives of ci­ti­zens.

In ef­forts to curb the ef­fects, Charles men­tioned the ac­tions that CAB has im­ple­mented through en­gag­ing ma­jor stake­hold­ers, namely the Caribbean De­vel­op­ment Bank, CARICOM Sec­re­tariat, In­ter­na­tional Mon­e­tary Fund (IMF), Fi­nan­cial Ac­tion Task Force (FATF), So­ci­ety for World­wide In­ter­bank Fi­nan­cial Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions (SWIFT), World Bank and re­gional cen­tral banks, in cor­re­spon­dent bank­ing re­la­tion­ships. Those re­la­tion­ships are cru­cial to keep­ing lo­cal economies afloat and cat­alyze pro­cesses of trade, tourism, man­u­fac­tur­ing, agri­cul­ture and for­eign direct in­vest­ments.

Con­cern­ing these is­sues Charles fi­nally re­ported that there have been some “shifts” within the de-risk­ing trend: “Cor­re­spon­dent bank­ing now gives their re­spon­dents longer no­tice pe­ri­ods be­fore pro­ceed­ing to de- risk them. The grav­ity of the sit­u­a­tion, how­ever, is by no means less­ened as loss of cor­re­spon­dent bank­ing con­tin­ues, and many Caribbean banks re­main un­able to ac­quire U.S. cor­re­spon­dent re­la­tion­ships.”

The suc­ceed­ing pre­sen­ter on the panel was Se­na­tor Ubal­dus Ray­mond, Min­is­ter in the Min­istry of Finance, Eco­nomic Growth, Job Cre­ation, Ex­ter­nal Af­fairs and Pub­lic Ser­vice. He pro­vided a brief over­view of the progress the re­gional fi­nan­cial sec­tor has achieved since the global cri­sis of 2008-2009. He main­tained, “In­deed, al­most a decade af­ter the global cri­sis, through per­sis­tent ef­forts at bal­ance sheets re­pair, there are now in­di­ca­tions of re­cov­ery and im­prove­ment of fi­nan­cial sound­ness in­di­ca­tors, which is en­cour­ag­ing of greater con­fi­dence in the sys­tem.”

How­ever, both Charles and Ray­mond pro­fessed a new de­ter­rent in the re­cent eco­nomic growth: ma­jor Hur­ri­canes Irma and Maria will place fi­nan­cial strain on the re­gional econ­omy. Se­na­tor Ray­mond said that it “points to the fragility and vul­ner­a­bil­ity of the re­gion and the need for co­he­sion par­tic­u­larly within the fi­nan­cial com­mu­nity”, while the CAB Chair­man ex­pressed, “These are very chal­leng­ing times but I am con­fi­dent that the re­silience of our Caribbean spirit will pro­vide the nec­es­sary strength and de­ter­mi­na­tion to sur­vive.”

The essence of the event was fi­nally de­liv­ered by Rolf Phillips, CAB Di­rec­tor, who un­veiled the new web­site plat­form, logo and slo­gan of the As­so­ci­a­tion. He ar­tic­u­lated, “CAB felt the need to come up with a re­freshed slo­gan that con­nects all of the ac­tiv­i­ties that we un­der­take on be­half of the in­dus­try and the way we in­tend to op­er­ate mov­ing for­ward.”

The slo­gan, “Keep­ing the in­dus­try proac­tive, pro­tected and prof­itable”, now ac­com­pa­nies a sleeker ver­sion of the CAB logo, which en­tails hints of a pyra­mid and the ad­di­tion of the colours green and sil­ver. The new web­site in­ter­face will be in­tro­duced start­ing from this week­end. It is ex­pected to be more user-friendly and in­for­ma­tive.

The moult­ing of the old, bring­ing in the new­fan­gled im­age of CAB is ex­pected to also ini­ti­ate new en­gage­ment not only as it re­lates to in­dus­try part­ners and mem­bers but also the pub­lic - the peo­ple who rely on banks to be sta­ble to main­tain a vig­or­ous fi­nan­cial in­dus­try.

Sup­port­ers and mem­bers of CAB at last week's cer­e­mony.

Ex­ec­u­tives of CAB cel­e­brate a suc­cess­ful un­veil­ing event.

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