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Bahamas hosting World Conference of Banking and Finance Institutes

Kim Bodie, executive director of the Bahamas Institute of Financial Services(BIFS), is particularly excited about The Bahamas hosting this year’s 19th World Conference of Banking and Finance Institutes–a first for the country.

Bodie, who has put in more than 30 years of service into BIFS, said that the conference, scheduled for March 20 through 23 at the Atlantis Resort, represented a significant opportunity to showcase the Bahamian financial services industry to the world.

“We are now working feverishly to ensure that we get as many of the external institutes from around the world to participate in this conference as possible,”Bodie said.”I want them to leave with the impression that The Bahamas’banking sector is sophisticated, it is a competitor, and that we have a dynamic, highly intellectual workforce that carries out the work in The Bahamas.”

The institute was originally the brainchild of T. Baswell Donaldson, according to Bodie. She started with the institute in 1980, about five years after its commencement, and initially came on to act as secretary to the then Registrar Kenneth Albury. The institute was known as the Bahamas Institute of Bankers back then, until it adopted its current name in 2003 to reflect the changes in the financial services industry.

“Banking is no longer the traditional banking, but is now a standard to other areas of financial services, such as insurance, such as the real estate agents and credit unions,”Bodie said.

The not-for-profit organization, which is owned and driven by industry members, is mandated to provide quality assured training opportunities for professionals in the industry, according to its executive director. The institute keeps abreast of all the changes in the industry to ensure that

relevant training opportunities are provided to have a workforce always prepared to perform at the highest level.

“From our initial start, we have set the pace for quality standards training in the industry,”Bodie said.”As a result many of the persons who are holding managerial positions in the industry have passed through the doors of the institute.”

There are over 42 members of the BIFS, which include regulators such as The Central Bank of The Bahamas and the Securities Commission of The Bahamas, clearing banks, and many of the major offshore banks. Membership contributions cover the institute’s operating costs, according to Bodie, and their is some supplemental income from the training opportunities it provides.

Located in Verandah House on Market Street and Trinity Place, the institute currently operates out of a building provided free, courtesy of the Central Bank, according to Bodie. She added that the institute is now at a place where it needs its own permanent home. She said discussions with members are underway to address the need.

According to Bodie the BIFS was ready and up to the task of hosting the world conference, adding that the annual week of seminars it has been holding for over 20 years has proven excellent training for an event of such magnitude.

“While we are the host, it is the industry’s conference,”Bodie said. She added that it is only the second time it is being held in the region, and that when Jamaica hosted it they really put their best foot forward.

“It is important that the stakeholders, our members, and the other banks that are operating in our country see the need to support this effort so that the delegates who come to the conference would leave The Bahamas with a different experience,”said Bodie.

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