Home' Trinidad and Tobago Guardian : April 23rd 2015 Contents APRIL 2015 • WEEK FOUR www.guardian.co.tt BUSINESS GUARDIAN
COVER STORY | BG5
Darbasie believes that First Citizens offers
more than basic banking services.
"First Citizens is a financial services provider.
We are not just located in T&T. We are in
Barbados, St Lucia, St Vincent and we have
a small operation in Costa Rica. The main
shareholder of First Citizens is the Government
of T&T but there is also public ownership
through the IPO that was done a few years
ago," she said.
She said the banking aspect is the main
part that everyone knows about.
"We also have First Citizens Asset Man-
agement, we have the Trustee Services, First
Citizens Investment Services and we have the
brokerage entity. It is a full-service financial
services provider that has the capacity to pro-
vide a full range of banking services and for
all segments of the market: consumers, retail
and commercial which is more of the mid-
dle-market type segment and then the cor-
"First Citizens is also involved in capital
market transactions for big entities in T&T
and in the wider Caribbean."
She also said First Citizens is open to cus-
tomers from all walks of life, from the person
who walks off the street into the bank to the
"In First Citizens bank, we cover the general
public through the retail banking network. We
also cover the commercial space, and the cor-
porate space so in the bank itself we provide
services for the full range of clients.
"In First Citizens Investment Services, we
deal with the investor part of the public and
handling some of the investment opportunities
that are available both again for individuals
as well as for corporate.
"First Citizens Asset Management has a full
range of clients that span from very small
investors who put money in the money market
fund up to large institutional investors who
would deal with the institution. We want to
be a full service provider for the cross section
of clients of the community," she said.
She said First Citizens is the best rated
indigenous bank in the Caribbean.
"Our investment grade rating with Moody's
just reaffirmed we are the best rated indigenous
bank. It is something that is critical to us, it
is something that separates us from the com-
She said being an indigenous, homegrown
institution gives them a different perspective
in the market.
"My stakeholders are not just my customers,
my clients, my shareholders, but also the gen-
eral public of T&T and to try to create the
correct balance in all of those stakeholders
in growing the institution and in doing the
business that we do."
She argues that financial products created
by First Citizens are no way inferior to anything
created by foreign-owned banking institution.
"Trinidadians and Tobagonians are bright
well-educated people. I can point people to
the First Citizens electronic banking platform
which I think is a superior product that offers
solutions that is not just equivalent but superior
in several aspects to offerings that are available
from other institutions in the market. It is
one of the points of pride that the institution
has. It is locally grown platform that the bank
has worked on over time. It is actually one of
the pillars that we will be using going forward,"
This is as a result of banking that is now
more Internet driven.
"This adds efficiency instead of brick and
mortar. The platform allows our customers to
access the services that we offer without getting
out or leaving their homes. It provides a seam-
less service that customers can access from
anywhere they are. This is one of the pillars
for not just creating great customer service
but for also creating efficiency for our cus-
tomers," she said.
She assured customers that the financial
group's online platforms are safe.
"Data privacy and compliance meet all the
requirements and we make sure that the plat-
form is secure from hacking and people's per-
sonal information is kept confidential."
Speaking about the last financial year, she
said the bank's performance was very good.
According to the speech of First Citizens'
chairman, Anthony Smart, at the annual gen-
eral meeting in March, at the close of the
financial year ending September 2014, First
Citizens achieved a before-tax profit of $772.6
million, a 3.7 per cent increase over the $744.7
million profit the bank recorded in 2013.
The after-tax profit was $626.6 million.
That is a 2.9 per cent growth compared to
Because she has just started, she said she
is unable to be specific on some policy meas-
ures but noted that she is at the stage of speak-
ing to all department heads.
"I am sitting with each of my business heads
and their supporting teams to first understand
their business and what we have done in the
past that made us very successful, what ideas
they have for the future, what opportunities
they really see and then to try to take all these
ideas that some up and collate them and see
how we move forward," she said.
Speaking about future expansion of First
Citizens, she said the bank is always looking
for new opportunities.
"At this stage, I need to understand what
is there first before I get started. I am really
trying to understand exactly what makes the
individual businesses successful and to take
that information and look at it from a broader
perspective with the executive management
"This First Citizens team is very experienced
and I'll be leaning on all the experience that
is there. It is that experience that has resulted
in the success of that institution."
When asked if there are systems in place
to prevent the scandal that erupted over the
2013 First Citizens IPO, she said corporate
governance plays a critical part in First Citizens
"I would say even prior to my coming in,
the policies and procedures of the institution
were reviewed by management and we are in
the process of making sure that everything
that was there is sufficient to address any
future undertaking and to ensure that we hold
ourselves to the highest standards of integrity
because we are the repository of clients' con-
"Clients' confidence in a bank is the most
important single attribute that any of us can
hope to keep and that is something that we
fully intend to maintain and to ensure that all
our corporate governance policies and proce-
dures give everyone the confidence that integri-
ty is being upheld."
When asked what is her position on what
happened with the last IPO, she declined to
give any specific comments as she said it
occurred before she came to the bank.
"Firstly, all the information on that is already
in the public domain. It is widely reported by
the media and it is being looked at by every-
open to all
From Page 4
Karen Darbasie holds a Bachelor
of Science (BSc) Honours degree
in electrical engineering from the
University of the West Indies; a
Masters of Science with
distinction in telecommunications
and information systems from
University of Essex, England; and
a Master of Business
Administration with distinction
from University of Warwick,
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