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. De-risking 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.