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Double-Digit Lay-Offs Likely As A Result Of 4 Rbc Branch Closures

By NEIL HARTNELL

Tribune Business Editor

nhartnell@tribunemedia.net

MORE double-digit job losses are likely at Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) after it last night announced the closure of four branches, including a pull-out from Andros and Long Island.

The move, which comes as the Canadian-owned bank pushes its clients to online and mobile banking, will result in the closure of its Andros Town and Gray’s locations on March 30 and April 13, respectively.

And two Nassau locations - Robinson Road and John F Kennedy drive - will be merged and consolidated with RBC’s existing Carmichael Road locations on March 16 and March 23, respectively.

RBC, in a statement, did not specify the resulting number of job losses, although a spokesperson confirmed to Tribune Business that lay-offs will occur. This newspaper’s e-mailed questions regarding the number of redundancies and other related issues were not returned before press time.

However, Nathaniel Beneby, RBC’s managing director for the northern Caribbean, including the Bahamas, said: “We are providing strong support to assist affected employees through this transition...... We will work with all impacted employees to find ways in which we can support their careers going forward, whether within RBC or elsewhere.

“Like all businesses, we constantly evaluate our operations to ensure we continue to match our services with the needs of our customers, and we are fully committed to ensuring smooth, uninterrupted service to our customers, continuing to meet our clients’ expectations and provide more convenient and better service to our clients while creating greater efficiencies within our operations.”

RBC’s move comes as little surprise, given that all Bahamas-based commercial banks are constantly seeking to cut costs and achieve efficiencies in a low-growth environment characterised by low profits, high unemployment and a significant non-performing loan overhang.

However, it less than two months after Mr Beneby, in unveiling RBC’s transition to a digital banking model, said the move was “not about downsizing”.

He added that it was “not about shrinking our business or services”, and said: “These changes are not about downsizing. These changes are about enhancing the client experience, and creating more access, convenience and security.

“RBC has been in the Bahamas for 109 years. These change is not about reducing or shrinking our business or services. This is more about growth. RBC continues to be fully committed to the Caribbean and the Bahamas.

“We enjoy long-standing relationships. We have clients with over 70 years of service with RBC. These changes, and all the changes we are making, we want the Bahamian community to understand this is not about shrinking our business but it’s about growth.”

Many observers are likely to view Mr Beneby’s comments with increased scepticism following yesterday’s move, which comes at a time when RBC has eliminated several key in-branch services.

RBC stopped cashing cheques, accepting bill payments, taking deposits or buying and selling foreign currency for non-customers on January 2. It now only cashes government cheques and pension cheques for non-clients

Deposits and transfers to other RBC clients’ accounts are also no longer accepted over-the-counter in branches, other than those for FINCO clients. The bank also ceased its FasDeposit service on January 15, while wire transfers will not be processed over-the-counter - and standing orders for credit cards discontinued - from January 31, 2018.

RBC yesterday touted the near-25,000 active users of its mobile banking app, and Mr Beneby was quoted thus: “These efforts are designed to bring us closer to our clients by giving them the ability to bank with us more easily through an array of physical and digital channel options, including point of sale, a strong mobile mortgage and sales force, the RBC Mobile App, Digital Banking, ATMs and our stores.”

The bank, though, hinted at more branch closures and consolidations to come as its business model and transition to digital banking evolves. Andros and Long Island will be especially hard-hit by the closures, which drastically reduce and eliminate traditional banking options on those islands, and leave a void that traditional money transmission providers such as Western Union, and newer players like the web shops and e-payment firms, are seeking to fill.

Mr Beneby, in December 2017, said RBC’s digital drive would reduce the long queues and wait times experienced in many RBC branches as a result of network consolidation and mergers with FINCO branches, plus enhance the client experience and “put them at the centre of everything we do”.

He added that the elimination of numerous manual, in-branch transactions would free-up RBC staff to better interact with clients and understand their needs, as well as enabling them to focus more on selling products and services.

Comments

B_I_D___ 1 year, 9 months ago

Never been a gambling man, but I may need to open up an account at one of the numbers houses to facilitate some money transfers.

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 9 months ago

What will happen to the millions of dollars that Long Islanders have deposited and transacted in Royal Bank???? How will these businessmen and private citizens access their business accounts?????? How will the islanders pay their bills and their loans??????? How will NIB pensioners access their funds??????? No ATM ......... No cashiers ......... just RBCOnline ............ and NO REMORSE from Beneby and his RBC cohorts.

We suppose the DPM and the Minnis government will wring their hands and say this is how the private sector adjusts to competitive market forces (aka webshops).

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John 1 year, 9 months ago

RBC’s actions Does not reflect what it claims it is trying to do. While it claims it is trying to enhance its customer experience and making banking easier it is closing branches full of customers and reducing staff in an already overworked environment. Royal bank workers have already had to quit their jobs for being overwhelmed with work and stressed out. Now the team is being reduced even more. Businesses are complaining that their night deposits are not being processed in a timely manner and now some customers are having their services yanked from them ‘cold turkey ‘ and with no alternative banking available. Who can feel comfortable with their money in a bank that is behaving like this? Irrational to say the least Is RBC making its exit from the Bahamas after over 100 years?

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pileit 1 year, 9 months ago

Just came from RBC making a deposit. Teller tells me there will be a $2.97 charge for depositing using a teller, since the ATM is free. Of course ATM deposits of any significant sum have a 2-day hold..... yep, that sounds fair...This is a fee for me putting CASH into their hands...

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hallmark 1 year, 9 months ago

"..... we are fully committed to ensuring smooth, uninterrupted service to our customers, continuing to meet our clients’ expectations and provide more convenient and better service to our clients while creating greater efficiencies within our operations.”

This the most bull I have read in a long time......

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bogart 1 year, 9 months ago

Despite the billion dollar bad mortgages debacle crippling many vustomers, businesses, tying up funds and govt feeble mortgage relief of 20 million of public funds, 4000 mortgage account holders defaults and with most mortgage accounts joint affecting 8000 persons and families no investigations. AND govt acknowkedged aggressive lending by mortgage companies there has been no investigations. Truly disappointing that govts wait until cathastrophe happens repeatedly before some govt with testicular fortitude to investogate and take measures to correct. Very easily proven that many loans were marginal and doomed to failure even though banks and with excessive use of Mortgage indemnities insurances allegedly even issued by one institution even though they had no legsl licence to do so and partly responsible for calamituous shareholder value collaspe. Before sending customers on long trips 20 year mortgages authorities should ensure they have a fair chance to arrive safely. Already one entrepreneural firm has been winning cases for clients from these faulty mortgages and which is likely to accelerate. Banks are already taking correvtive action. Investigations are needed.

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TheMadHatter 1 year, 9 months ago

Bogart, you itching to get expelled from The Bahamas - LOL. You are right, as usual. My suspicion is that all branches of RBC will close before year end except one main branch in Nassau - which will not necessary occupy the same space as the current HQ.

The problem with Bahamians is even after hearing story after story after story about any particular business in this country - they will still patronize them just because they personally have not had an issue. They feel quite content to allow their brethren to suffer. Well the overall suffering is now reaching a level that the stink is flowing into their cozy little nests too.

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SP 1 year, 9 months ago

@ hallmark....You beat me to it! Beneby is giving us a full dose of the Perry Christie shuffle, complete with double talk, 5rd-grade reverse psychology, and fodder for fools!

Only a full-blown jackass would consider branch closures and fewer services as "progress". This whole announcement by Beneby is a massive insult to our intelligence.

The fact is, the extraordinarily high number of expat blue collar work permit holders who repatriate income to home countries have seriously eroded commercial banks' local Bahamian customer base, resulting in lower bank business volumes!

Until the government stops this stupidity of displacing the Bahamian workforce with blue-collar work permit holders who repatriate majority of their income to home countries, the economy will unquestionably continue on this downward spiral and contraction.

This is a simple-stupid, straightforward equation. Either exercise government will and replace the huge number of foreigners holding work permits for blue collar jobs repatriating funds out of, and weakening the local economy that Bahamians qualify for OR continue with this stupidity and face a continuing dying economy resulting in more bank and local business closures and layoffs across the board.

PM Minnis better get this one right or he will face the same demise of Ingraham and Christie who thought they could get away with displacing the Bahamian workforce with foreigners and asking disenfranchised Bahamians to vote for them!

Why the hell would anyone vote for a government responsible for them remaining under or unemployed?

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sheeprunner12 1 year, 9 months ago

Did anyone listen to that feeble response in Parliament today by DPM Turnquest??????? .......... You would swear that he has shares in RBC with Beneby and Darling and others ........... KPT is clearly culpable in this "progressive downsizing" of RBC .......... and to see Brave asking questions about the banks after what the PLP allowed the webshops to do ........ smt

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TheMadHatter 1 year, 9 months ago

Exactly - ALL transfers of funds out of this country should be met with a 10% tax, excepting transfers directly to recognized colleges or other school and recognized product suppliers such as Home Depot, Georgia Pacific, etc.

ALL - to ANY country to ANYONE for ANY reason even health assistance. No exceptions. OR we can just choose to die as a nation from the attack of locusts.

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Greentea 1 year, 9 months ago

We need an international commercial bank like Bank of America or even HBC to come into the Bahamas. Who cultivates this kind of business for the country? Someone needs to do something.

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OldFort2012 1 year, 9 months ago

No one, and I mean no one is interested in doing retail banking in a country of 300k souls with an average income of $20k/year. That is a market smaller than Fort Lauderdale.

No retail bank ever gave 3 hoots about the Bahamas and never will. What they cared about were the billions in offshore banking. That has gone and so has their interest.

We really need to wake up and smell the roses.

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DonAnthony 1 year, 9 months ago

I agree with your point, but you have used a mixed metaphor. The expression you wish to convey is “ wake up and smell the coffee”, meaning “ get real”, the other metaphor which you have mixed is “ stop and smell the roses”, meaning appreciate life. In another tribune article this week a prominent attorney used the same mixed metaphor, must be a Bahamian thing!

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Porcupine 1 year, 9 months ago

Sad that we have been reduced to this. Arguing about something that has been there in front of us for our entire generation.

*It is well enough that people of the nation do not understand our banking and monetary system, for if they did, I believe there would be a revolution before tomorrow morning. Henry Ford* We have come to accept that banking is a profit center for the rich. Few, even the brightest in any country, seem to understand much about finance and the drag it places on humanity, as it now exists. The reason being that once it is understood, that knowledge is used to personally enrich oneself, as opposed to bringing to light the harm it does to the economy and people as a whole. Look at it this way. Do you really think that PM Minnis does not see the utter destruction of The Bahamas by the web shops? Or, is it likely he understands, but personally benefits from the web shop money? Use your heads. There are many brilliant writers such as Ellen Brown, Michael Hudson and others who have take the pledge to help humanity and have exposed banking and modern day finance for what it is. Folks, complaining about it, is like barking up the wrong tree. A scam.

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JohnDoe 1 year, 9 months ago

I am obviously one of the many who do not understand finance so please explain to me what webshops have to do with RBC charging customers to make deposit to their accounts, refusing to negotiate checks unless you have an account with them, downsizing and closing 4 branches?

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SP 1 year, 9 months ago

Commercial banks have been downsizing for years while money transmission providers have become the fastest growing business in the Bahamas bar none!

Who are these foreigners transmitting this huge volume of cash out of the country on a daily?

Successive governments are 100% responsible for the demise of the Bahamian economy by not educating our people and allowing the domestic and construction sectors to be highjacked by Haitians, Jamaicans, Asians, and Latinos that repatriate income out of the local economy.

The Bahamas economy is now facing the death of a thousand lashes as the Bahamian workforce have been replaced by foreigners who do not patronize the local economy!

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John 1 year, 9 months ago

Hopefully one of the Local Banks would move into the soon to be vacant RBC on JFK as well as fill the market where the two branches in the Family Islands will be closed. Commonwealth, Fidelity or even BoB. Otherwise government will have to grant some slack to the web shops in those areas to allow (inter-Island) money transfer temporarily. You would think that RBC would at least make ATMs available. Parking is already a problem at all RBC locations so imagine them doubling their customer base. Many do not realize that RBC is a crippled bank and may be limping its way back home to Canada, at least from the Bahamas and parts of the Caribbean. RBC was hit with some heavy fines for what was determined as violations of banking regulations. And to top this it is getting stiff competition from local banks in the Bahamas that it is not use to having. And because it’s loans policies are so much more strict RBC can hardly compete in an area where it makes most of its income. Remember at the height of the drug trade when all those y’all, multistory buildings went up in Miami. Most of them were banks. Would be interesting to know what’s happening with them now.

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John 1 year, 9 months ago

*No insinuation that RBC was accepting drug money. It just got caught up in a market where there was a lot of it. And the regulations put in place to snag the rogue banks ended up hurting some of the ‘clean ‘ banks. Fidelity had to give up its Western Union franchise to avoid any mishaps affecting its banking business.

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John 1 year, 9 months ago

RBC IS PAYING DIVIDENDS...all is not lost

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