Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : December 21st 2014 Contents SBG6 | VERBATIM
December 21 • 2014 www.guardian.co.tt SUNDAY BUSINESS GUARDIAN
It gives me great pleasure to be here with
you this evening at this Caribbean Corporate
Governance Institute networking Event. First
Citizens continues to be as closely associated
with the Caribbean Corporate Governance
Institute as we were when the Bank took on
the responsibility of being a founding sponsor
of the Institute.
We at First Citizens retain our close links
because we are convinced that T&T and
indeed the entire Caribbean need to build on
the foundation that has been laid for the con-
tinued emergence of strong and successful
Shareholders, corporate and individual, are
no longer passive, if indeed they were so in
previous decades. Along with actual investors
in corporations, even the general public is
conscious of the need for effectively and effi-
ciently governed business entities.
They, the public, realise that quality gov-
ernance converts into jobs, revenues and a
higher standard of living for all. Similarly,
the public and direct investors know that
weak structures and opaque governance sys-
tems must result inevitably in corruption of
one form or the other and the inevitable weak-
ening of the business.
Especially for small economies and regions
competing in a world of giant corporations,
many of them with budgets and structures
larger than our entire economies and region,
high-quality and productive governance sys-
tems are a necessity for growth.
It is because we at First Citizens have taken
time over the last 20 plus years of the Bank's
establishment to build sound governance
structures, that the Bank has been able to
prevail over the challenges of 2014.
It is this pillar of corporate governance con-
sisting of management structures, transparen-
cy, accountability and having experienced and
high calibre senior management, which has
brought First Citizens through the challenges
associated with the Bank's highly successful
Initial Public Offering.
As you would be aware, our corporate
governance structure was expanded by the
IPO to now include 12,000 plus shareholders.
We feel sure that they will monitor and have
their say at our annual general meetings will
thereby add another dimension to corporate
Today, after a short 21 years, First Citizens
has moved from being a weak financial insti-
tution that came into existence from three
banks in severe financial difficulties to becom-
ing one of the largest and most secure indige-
nous financial services group within Cari-
In no small measure the achievement of
such success has been due to the sound cor-
porate governance structure instituted. It is
a structure which is being continuously built
upon by the board and management of First
During its existence, First Citizens has been
given the highest rating among local and
regional banks by international rating bodies.
Admittedly those high ratings have been mar-
ginally adjusted downwards by one rating
agency because of the challenges experienced
with the IPO. But we fully expect that the
bank's ratings will once again climb upwards
as the international rating agencies see con-
tinued profitability and growth flow from our
strong corporate governance system.
As an executive chairman, put in the job
for a temporary period, it may seem contra-
dictory that we are talking about pursuing
quality corporate governance while you have
heard that no one individual should hold the
positions of CEO and chairman.
And yes it is a fact that there should be a
separation of powers between the CEO and
Chairman in order to achieve transparent and
effective corporate governance. However, the
Code itself provides that such a structure may
be permitted in exceptional circumstances
once the majority shareholder is consulted
and approval is given.
In our situation, once the former CEO ten-
dered his resignation without notice, the board
therefore sought the approval of the majority
shareholder to my appointment as executive
chairman while a permanent CEO is recruited.
The Board considered that this was the best
option in the circumstances. This appointment
is a short term measure and the board fully
expects that a new CEO will be in place before
the end of June 2015.
In the interim, as executive chairman I have
the assistance of an experienced banker as a
consultant and indeed the assistance of the
executive management of First Citizens as I
continue the journey of ensuring that First
Citizens is properly directed and controlled.
On behalf of all of us at First Citizens, I
wish you and your family God's greatest bless-
ings at this year's celebration of the birth of
A smart move?
First Citizens executive chairman explains why he accepted post
Anthony Smart, left, the new executive chairman of First Citizens, greets shareholder activist, Peter Permell, at a press conference following the
special meeting of the bank's shareholders to elect new directors of the majority state-owned bank. The special meeting, which elected Smart as
the chairman of the bank, was held on June 17 in the lobby of Queen's Hall in St. Ann's. The board of First Citizens opted to appoint Smart to
function as the executive chairman following the resignation of Larry Nath, centre, the bank's CEO, on December 4
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