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Kesna Pinder’s mantra is’pay it forward’

At 30 years old, Kesna Pinder sits in the compliance manager seat at RBC FINCO and heads the Bahamas Association of Compliance Officers(BACO). The young leader is grateful for the mentorship she received along the way, and expresses that gratitude by adopting the same approach to developing the professionals she influences.

“People like Tanya McCartney motivate me, because she empowered me and left me alone to go forward,”Pinder said.”Her mantra has always been to’pay it forward’and it has become my mantra, that I pay it forward.”McCartney is currently the managing director at RBC FINCO.

Pinder says her professional story started around 2003 on FINCO’s teller line, fresh from St. Mary’s University with a Bachelor’s of Commerce degree. That teller position was important to help her develop the client relationship skills that she said are so critical to bankers, who in today’s regulated financial world must constantly marry the service needs of their clients with their organization’s oversight and compliance requirements.

“I think bankers develop[people skills]innately,”said Pinder.”… Even if it’s not you, if you don’t have the best personality, you develop, especially through the Royal Bank group of companies, customer service skills.”

Pinder says her mentorship experience with McCartney happened some years after joining the organization. Pinder had taken the post of administrative assistant to the Royal Bank of Canada’s compliance manager in Nassau, who subsequently retired, which resulted in her working with McCartney.

z”Tanya at the same time was president of BACO, and she just charted the course with me the rest of the way,”Pinder said. McCartney moved to head RBC FINCO, and Pinder would later assume the compliance manager position there and continue in the training and mentorship she had experienced.

In addition to keeping her current on international trends and happenings in the industry, and their local implications, Pinder says the training aspect of the compliance function is still one of her favorite features.

Much of who Pinder is today, she said, is from the influence of her parents. She said she is a very spiritual person, and that the trait came directly from her mother, Katrinka Johnson. She credits her father, John Pinder, President of the Bahamas Public Service Union, with her leadership skills. The traits together leave her believing there is purpose and reason to where she is.

“I’m very much self-driven, I’m very spiritual, so I believe I’m a born leader and the Lord has me at this particular place and time for a particular reason,”the BACO president said, and later added,”I believe that I am here to mentor and chart the course for other people.”

Being self-driven and having a spiritual grounding may help Pinder in her often assumed role of’bad guy’, which is frequently associated with the compliance function in the banking industry. However, she said this is changing, at least at her institution.

“Somebody has to be the bad guy, but there is an overall respect in my organization and many other organizations,[though maybe]not a whole lot of them,”said Pinder. Compliance officers, she added, act as one of the true gatekeepers of the industry, and they book’good business’and watch out for the reputation of the entire organization. As a result they are sought out by auditors, senior management, and regulators.

“We are looked to; they come to us for counsel, guidance and advice,”said Pinder.”For me, that’s a very good place to be, because they respect you, they trust you.”

Pinder wants 11th and 12th graders and college students to look at the compliance field of financial services as critical to ensuring the jurisdiction remains competitive in the global environment, and hence worth considering as a career option.

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