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‘Adapt As Banks Shut Their Doors’

Deputy Prime Minister K Peter Turnquest.

Deputy Prime Minister K Peter Turnquest.

By KHRISNA RUSSELL

Deputy Chief Reporter

krussell@tribunemedia.net

WHILE the government is “concerned” by the latest consolidation announcement from the Royal Bank of Canada, Deputy Prime Minister Peter Turnquest suggested these situations are inevitable with the constant evolution of technology, which requires less “brick and mortar locations and bodies”.

Mr Turnquest suggested the country has been hit hard by bank closures because Bahamians were not prepared to take advantage of or adapt to new technology.

However, RBC’s announcement has pained those in Long Island, with area MP Adrian Gibson telling The Tribune pensioners and business people on the island are most concerned as the bank is the only fully functioning one in the constituency.

He made a plea for Bahamian-owned banks to consider opening operations in Long Island.

It was reported that effective March 16, RBC’s Robinson Road branch will be consolidated with its Carmichael Road branch and its John F Kennedy Drive location with its Carmichael Road branch, effective March 23.

Additionally, its location in Andros Town will be consolidated with RBC’s main Bay Street branch – effective March 30 – and its Grey’s location on Long Island with RBC’s main Bay Street branch in Nassau – effective April 13.

The issue was raised during debate on the Travelling Currency Declaration Bill 2018. The bill calls for declarations of precious stones, precious metals in the form of coins, ingots and bars or money over $10,000 to be declared to Bahamas customs during travel outside of the country.

“Unfortunately, it is in fact a global trend as more and more banks because of the availability of technology are taking advantage of that technology to reduce their cost,” Mr Turnquest said in the House of Assembly yesterday. “Reducing their costs unfortunately means that some of them are moving to an electronic banking platform requiring less brick and mortar locations and as a result, less bodies. It is the curse of this generation as technology drives efficiency and the lesson for us is we are behind the eight ball in this.

“We have not prepared our people to take advantage or to adapt to this new technology and this new reality and that’s what this government has been trying to do by the way with respect with trying to drive this whole idea of the Commercial Enterprises Bill undertaking in Grand Bahama and trying to create a tech hub, the promotion tour that the prime minister is on in Austin, Texas, at the moment trying to make The Bahamas a tech hub, trying to take advantage, although we are late and trying to help our people adapt to this new reality.”

He continued: “Technology, it ain’t going backwards. You can’t put it in your pocket and hope for the old days because it’s global and because it’s free. It moves without borders so there is no way you can stop it.

“And so, when the member (PLP Leader Philip ‘Brave’ Davis) speaks about he wants to know what it is that we are doing as a result of Royal Bank, in this particular instance talking about closing four more branches and consolidating two, which undeniably will likely result in joblessness. But I remind the member that he was in office when Royal Bank gave notice.”

Mr Turnquest was responding to questions levelled by Mr Davis who suggested the private sector was following the lead of the government by laying off staff. The Minnis administration has opted not to renew contracts of many workers who were hired before the 2017 general election. In other instances, the government has said people with contracts valued at $100,000 or more will not be rehired.

Mr Davis said: “This morning you wake up to the news for example the Royal Bank of Canada is consolidating banks and moving some of its operations to another jurisdiction. That has to cause some concern and I have to ask the government, what have you been doing to address these situations?

“Now we understand that those are private banks, but government has the responsibility to ensure that whatever either industry does, it is not done in a way that causes the kind of pain that I expect to be coming by what was done with the Royal Bank of Canada.

“Is the private sector following the lead of the government?” Mr Davis also asked.

“Is the private sector following the government and if it was the government’s hope for the private sector to take up the slack to the impact of the (job) statistics, the question is what then has the government done over the last several months or what do they plan to do to spur the opportunities in the private sector?

“So I just wondered whether the government made an alternative suggestion to minimise the impact of the loss of jobs or minimise the pain these persons will feel.”

For his part, Mr Gibson further urged the government to regulate the proliferation of web shops in Long Island, adding that he believed the use of these businesses to carry out certain banking type procedures contributed to legitimate banks leaving Long Island.

Comments

stillwaters 2 years, 5 months ago

Looks like in the next five years, only Commonwealth and BOB will still be here.

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Sickened 2 years, 5 months ago

Don't forget the criminal numbers fellas. They run the out island banking system now. I'm sure the PLP are quite comfortable as long as their share, from the numbers fellas dem, keeps coming in.

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Schemer18 2 years, 5 months ago

It is so sad in this country the way politicians ponders on critical matters facing the nation; And, all they need to do is to let them old Canadian banks to go defunct. The web shops are able to function as local Bahamian banks! Why are these slow pussyfooting politicians - lawmakers allowing the country to recess! WAKE UP man!!!

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realfreethinker 2 years, 5 months ago

That's what technology does. If you don't adapt you will be left behind. What's happening in the Bahamas is nothing unusual. The internet has changed the world forever

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TalRussell 2 years, 5 months ago

Ma Comrade Braddas, nonsense talk about how this administration needs time learn be equipped move with banking technology that is not new but been around during their first three governing red administrations. What is not new is the banks don't want do business natives. This government, like the PLP, best understands how grow the numbers business... The politicians always go where the money is.... regardless colours political parties t shirts.To listen KP, you'd think ATM's and the Internet were both just discovered since May 10, 2017 when the truth speaks to banks have been slamming their doors in faces of the poor and near poor natives since the days Sir Stafford and Pop Symonette.

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Schemer18 2 years, 5 months ago

Amen. A Bahamian soldier with a clear vision... Props to you TalRussell

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Sickened 2 years, 5 months ago

I think RBC's commercial banking will be gone in 2 years. They will have a presence but it won't be for the general public. I just hope they don't sell their loan portfolio to the numbers criminals.

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sealice 2 years, 5 months ago

Constant evolution of technology or are they just tired of having to operate in a shitholio environment?

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Proper242 2 years, 5 months ago

If they didn't see this coming.... Everyone uses technology as a scapegoat. Shouldn't the jobs lost be replaced with jobs that matches the advancement in technology. Last time I checked I had to call Trinidad to have issues resolved in reference to my account.

We have a few issues in our country.
1. Mediocre customer service. 2. On average an inefficient work force. 3. Mediocre Government. 4. A lack of prophetic planning.

Let's see how those responsible encourage companies to continue to business in the Bahamas.

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ThisIsOurs 2 years, 5 months ago

"Mr Turnquest suggested the country has been hit hard by bank closures because Bahamians were not prepared to take advantage"

I understand that Mr Turnquest is a good man but I still believe he is the wrong person for this position. Didn't he just report that the government experienced a surplus a few months ago? So many unfounded contradictory statements out of the ministry. The banks did not close because Bahamians refused to use the proffered technology, the banks closed because the economy is bad, customers are losing jobs, can't pay mortgages, can't hold savings accounts all this means losses for the bank. In an effort to court cost, the banks moved to place services on a digital platform. Saying it any other way is to be really blind.

The banks did not close because Bahamisns are old fashioned, they closed because they're not making as much money as they used to.

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ykpbs 2 years, 5 months ago

"The banks did not close because Bahamisns are old fashioned, they closed because they're not making as much money as they used to." -Exactly, and minimal people see it this way sadly, and they are not making money from ..lottery number houses

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ThisIsOurs 2 years, 5 months ago

"“We have not prepared our people to take advantage or to adapt to this new technology and this new reality and that’s what this government has been trying to do by the way with respect with trying to drive this whole idea of the Commercial Enterprises Bill undertaking in Grand Bahama and trying to create a tech hub, the promotion tour that the prime minister is on in Austin, Texas, at the moment trying to make The Bahamas a tech hub, trying to take advantage, although we are late and trying to help our people adapt to this new reality."

This won't work. It's quite sad really. You're "hoping" Bahamians will get trained at a time when you should be moving aggressively to train them. Here's what "will" happen, the jobs may come, Bahamians will not be ready for them and companies will happily employ foreign workers. Bahamians will be relegated to the low paying support roles. The gap between the trained and the untrained will increase and Bahamians will once again become servants in their own land.

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Sickened 2 years, 5 months ago

So right! We can't even get computers for government schools. Most of our young kids still haven't even heard about computer programming. Our schools should AT A MINIMUM be introducing our middle school kids about writing APPS and for those kids that show some interest there should be after school programs on writing code and creating apps. Open their eyes and they will take the initiative.

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John 2 years, 5 months ago

RBC is paying dividends y'all....ORDINARY and EXTRA ORDINARY...THEY MUST SEE LIGHT AT THE END OF THE LONG, DARK TUNNEL.

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hrysippus 2 years, 5 months ago

Peter Turnquest says we must adapt, .. .... .... .... Or get our fiscal knuckles rapped. ........ .. ... ... The future is to bank on line, ........ ... ... . ... ... If you smart phone savvy you should be fine, ....... ... .. ... Operating costs had got so high, ... ... .... ... The banks were seeing their business die. ....... ... ... ... Government got greedy, wanted more tax, .. ... .. .. They introduced VAT without assessing the facts, . ... .... Lots of our businesses will soon close their door, .. .. .... Leaving Bahamian workers increasingly poor, ......... ... ... ... This is what happens when the fools we elect, .. ... ... .... .. Can't see what they do has the economy wrecked... ... ... .... .. So in the next election, make sure you vote for me, ........... ..... .................... Crysippus for president and your money will be free. ...... ... ....

Just like the if-elected PLP's electricity, .. ... ... .... and also as I remember NHI was going to be.

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 5 months ago

Peter Turnquest and Nathaniel Beneby and the others should come to Long Island and Andros and explain WHY they have pulled out of these communities so unceremoniously ....... but we should not hold our breath because these banks have already done the same in Abaco, Eleuthera, Bimini and Exuma without as much as an apology to their loyal clients for 50+ years.

It is hard to believe that the DPM/Minister of Finance has no knowledge of what these Canadian banks are about to do to unsuspecting Bahamian banking clients.

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stillwaters 2 years, 5 months ago

The Canadian banks didn't open branches here because they loved Bahamians. They wanted to make money, and when that became a problem for them, they are doing what it takes for their profits to continue, hire less people. Don't mistake these people for BahamasAir or BOB.

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The_Oracle 2 years, 5 months ago

Royal Bank, Scotia bank have been repatriating profits for almost 200 years, and are rolling out just like any self respecting plantation owner would once the soil is done. What is more interesting to me is the first "Jamaica" devaluation move they are taking, "The issue was raised during debate on the Travelling Currency Declaration Bill 2018. The bill calls for declarations of precious stones, precious metals in the form of coins, ingots and bars or money over $10,000 to be declared to Bahamas customs during travel outside of the country." Hmmm. You can leave but you can't take your wealth with you......

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 5 months ago

Interesting analogy .......... RBC has taken much "gold" out of this country for 110 years.

Bahamians must begin to support their credit unions and locally-owned banks

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John 2 years, 5 months ago

Waiting for that day when they say the slaves become the masters

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Sickened 2 years, 5 months ago

Remember years ago when the black South Africans decided they were going to be the masters, so they kicked all the white plantation owners out of the country and took over the land? The locals soon realized that they had NO idea how to run a plantation and they were soon left with very little agricultural production. They had to call the white man back and ask him to please take his plantation back and give us a job.

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 5 months ago

That happened in Haiti 200 years ago .......... and how did that work out for them????? .......... Les not forget.

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JohnDoe 2 years, 5 months ago

By now one may have had reasonable expectations that our Minister of Finance would have realized that he is now a Cabinet Minister and a member of the government that sets policy and thus his words have real consequences. Instead, almost a year after being elected he still sounds like a politician from an Opposition Party. Further, what is equally concerning is his ever changing positions every time a mic is put in front of him.

Just last year Turnquest made the following remarks about this same technology and bank consolidations as reported by the Tribune........... "The bank’s statement yesterday indicated its expectation that such delivery platforms will compensate for the branch closures, but Mr Turnquest told Tribune Business this objective did “not face the reality of our customer base”. “The reality is that if you’re only making a couple of hundred dollars a week, doing business online is simply not feasible,” he said. “If you get paid weekly on a Friday, you’re going into get the cheque cashed that same day to pay your bills.” In the same article. Mr. Turnquest, who was then in Opposition, chastised the governing PLP for not doing enough about the bank closures. However, now that he is in power he appears to be blaming the same guy that makes a couple hundred dollars a week who needs to immediately pay his bills for not being tech savvy. The sad thing is that even if that guy is not tech savvy, that is no excuse and still does not absolve the government from taking a stance on these closures.

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Socrates 2 years, 5 months ago

this is interesting.. first we say we dont need the foreigners, but when they prepare to cut and run, we start grumbling. then we say, bahamians need to invest in their own economy and future, so why wont BOB (which all of us have paid dearly for) and/or Commonwealth Bank (bahamian bank) move in to fill the gap? finally, how many forms will have to be filled and questions aswered when businessmen show up sonewhere with duffel bags of cash coz they could not put it in a bank and then be treated like money-laundering lepers? this is a crisis for the locals in these places..

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Sickened 2 years, 5 months ago

Having money in The Bahamas is certainly becoming a curse. Most banks here don't want it. You almost have to beg them to take it and they make it SOOO difficult to open and maintain an account AND they charge you a ton just to keep your account. We are literally paying through our noses to give money to banks who don't want our business and who almost refuse to lend it out. Our little world is upside down, sideways and all twisted.

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Schemer18 2 years, 5 months ago

Again, these politicians allowing them Family Island Residence to suffer! The Web Shops could handle the day to day monetary transaction for those people; WAKE UP MAN! STOP! Allowing your people to suffer, because of the BLACK CRABS SYNDROME!

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bogart 2 years, 5 months ago

@JohnDoe, very good observation, Same with Bank of the Bahamas just after being reelected and sitting on the govt side of the table pouring 166 million dollars into Bank of the Bahamas . Politicians get into trouble not accounting for $50,000. Contracts not publicised rigorously examined but $166,000,000. .????And having known the many loans needing investigation etcetc And even senior officer Resolve commenting on asset value of loans. Saying and doing are two different things. Banks pulling out of critically important islands with businesses catering to importantTourist centres and much worse depriving or creating hardship for Bahamians workers of financial services to feed their families is truly appalling!!! Dont the higher ups in foreign countries making these decisions not know that the Bahamas is not one land mass and Longislanders and Bimininites cannot drive over to the next location???

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sheeprunner12 2 years, 5 months ago

Very true statement ........ But why are the Credit Unions not stepping up to take over some of these bank-less markets???? ....... there are many salaried workers in the Out Islands as well.

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DaGoobs 2 years, 5 months ago

These Canadian banks are not making the kind of money in the Caribbean area that they used to make, coupled with significant numbers of bad, difficult to recover, loans that they are carrying on their books. Similarly they don't own many of the premises that they operate from. So, in these Family Islands they are suffering declining revenues, declining customer bases and heavy operational expenses. They do a cost/benefit analysis and conclude that it's less costly for them to take a one-time financial hit and close their unprofitable Family Island branches. DPM Turnquest is way off base if he wants you to believe that these closures are due to technology. The same technology that these banks have in the Bahamas is the same technology that they have available to them in Canada but you don't see them shutting down or consolidating branches in Canada the way they are doing in the Bahamas. It's all about what can you do for me today in terms of revenues and they are just not the same in the Bahamas any more.

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Schemer18 2 years, 5 months ago

Its a slavery term "adapt"! he is delusional! Scary...

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