By NEIL HARTNELL
Tribune Business Editor
Some 70 per cent of the workers that have left CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank (Bahamas) as a result of its ongoing restructuring were voluntary departures, its regional chief executive said yesterday.
Rik Parkhill said just three workers, out of 100 who were due to depart, had yet to leave the commercial bank as its restructuring programme headed towards its October 2015 conclusion.
“If you look at the Bahamas, 70 per cent of the people that exited the bank under the programme exited under the voluntary programme,” Mr Parkhill said, adding that they either headed to alternative jobs or early retirement.
And 50 per cent of staff whose positions were being redundant were redeployed to alternative posts within CIBC FirstCaribbean’s Bahamian operations.
Mr Parkhill’s comments suggest that just 30 staff left the bank as a result of compulsory redundancies, a figure close to previous Tribune Business estimates.
The CIBC FirstCaribbean regional chief, in the Bahamas for tonight’s AGM with Bahamian shareholders, said the restructuring programme was “more or less finished”.
He added that it had resulted in the bank’s back office processing becoming “more efficient”, and lowered costs. While CIBC FirstCaribbean had maintained its three regional operations centres, including its Bahamian facility, more work had been directed to its Jamaican counterpart.
“We’ve restructured the business environment of this company so that it can be highly profitable in a low growth environment, and that offers substantial leverage in any economic recovery,” Mr Parkhill said.
He added that there had been “a slight uptick” in private sector investment in the Bahamas, which appeared to come through in the 66.7 per cent net income increase produced by CIBC FirstCaribbean’s local subsidiary during the first quarter of its 2015 financial year.
“It has been very painful in the last two years,” Mr Parkhill said, referring to consecutive loss-making years that were driven by increased loan loss provisions, goodwill writedown and allowances for a slower-than-expected recovery and reduced collateral value.
This, he explained, forced CIBC FirstCaribbean to focus on “significantly reduced operating costs, efficiency initiatives and staff reductions”.
Suggesting that the worst was now behind the bank, Mr Parkhill said it planned to expand its Bahamian call centre, which he described as its “best performing”.
And, seeking to differentiate CIBC FirstCaribbean from its rival Canadian-owned banks, he added that it had kept loan adjudication and credit application functions in the Bahamas.
“The best days of this bank are ahead of it,” Mr Parkhill said. “We want to grow in the Bahamas and do better for our shareholders.”
While CIBC FirstCaribbean’s top-line revenues were down year-over-year for the three months to end-January 2015, he added: “We have one of the biggest corporate and retail sales pipelines in the history of the bank.”