Build locally-owned correspondent bank in North America, urges Bowe

Financial services professionals in The Bahamas have to turn their focus to the Caribbean region to grow partnerships, investments and banking relationships in an effort to retain more wealth locally, financial industry professionals contended yesterday, with one adding that the domestic banking industry needs to pool together to develop its own correspondent bank in the United States.

Founder and Chief Information Officer of Diomedea Capital Advisors Company Limited Kevin Burrows, who made his remarks during a webinar put on by the CFA Society of The Bahamas, said Bahamians have to create more homegrown industries and create local savings and investment ecosystems in tandem with operators throughout the Caribbean.

He added that the local financial services industry needs be retooled to become “for us, by us”.

“In The Bahamas, we’re behind the curve compared to Jamaica,” Burrows said.

“Jamaica has a much stronger homegrown investment culture than we do. The Jamaica stock market has been booming for years and participation in the stock market is widespread and it created strong, talented, homegrown Jamaican asset managers.

“In The Bahamas we need to get off of our high horse and get in on that game.” 

Burrows said The Bahamas cannot go back to the industry it once had and insisted that Bahamians are qualified to direct investments to The Bahamas and the Caribbean. 

Chief Financial Officer of Fidelity Group Gowon Bowe, who also took part in the CFA webinar, said Bahamians have to expand their banking institutions by becoming domestic capital markets.

He pointed to domestically owned banks in Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica that have become the largest banks in those territories.

“Our domestic banking industry is still too much playing as a member of the club,” said Bowe.

He contended that big Canadian banks are continually considering when they might end their operations in The Bahamas.

Bowe said the country’s correspondent banking relationships are constantly under threat and it is important a locally owned one is built.

“We don’t control what it is we operate,” he said.

“All of the domestic banks owned locally in The Bahamas rely on a U.S.-based bank to clear all of their transactions.

“We can own more of the correspondent relationships…and become an owner of a correspondent bank in North America by pooling resources.”

Bowe said The Bahamas has to “stop allowing persons to eat our lunch”.

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