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|Bank of the Bahamas Expands To Eleuthera, Out Islands|
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|Posted by:||Jun 26th 2007, 01:20:36 pm|
|Fig Tree News Team||Aggressive expansion
By TERENCE MURRELL, Guardian Business Editor
The Bank of the Bahamas is aggressively pursuing markets in the Family Islands, with the construction of a branch on Cat Island, and expansion into Eleuthera and Abaco. According to the bank's Managing Director Paul McWeeney, plans are on stream to open a branch in Miami later this year. An additional branch is also being planned for Nassau in the Carmichael road area. That branch will form part of a new mall to be constructed by Benchmark.
"We have entered into an agreement with Benchmark, which will announce today the construction of a shopping center, of which we will rent approximately 5,000 square feet to put a full-service branch in the Carmichael road area, an area which is growing in population and not adequately serviced by the banking community. We are optimistic that the branch will be opened in the next 12-18 months," said McWeeney.
The bank's Cat Island branch will be the first bank for that island. "There is a growing market there and it is our intention to expand the franchise throughout the archipelago. We are of course being very prudent in how we make those decisions and the impact on our financial position," he added. "In terms of the Miami office the physical premises should be handed over to us at the end of this month and we would then begin the process of outfitting it. We are optimistic that the branch will be opened within the next several months."
Currently the company has 11 branches (excluding the Cat Island branch, the Miami branch and the company's headquarters). The opening of the Miami branch will lead to an increase in the company's staff, and McWeeney noted that this branch will be staffed by persons with some Bahamian heritage. It is also the intention of the bank to look for local persons to run the Family Island branches. Plans are also on stream to renovate the bank's office in Freeport, its Nassau headquarters, and to open a new 10,000-square-foot training center on Village Road.
"We have outfitted and renovated that space primarily to house the bank's new training facilities," revealed McWeeney. "The bank is introducing a number of very aggressive training modules and orientation processes that will be in this purpose-built facility. On many occasions we partner with the Bahamas Institute of Financial Services in bringing in persons to conduct special needs training programs. We also have a full-time training officer and department. And with a business like ours which is constantly expanding, training and retraining is key to our growth, development and success."
The bank also plans to centralize some of its back office functions at the Village Road facility, and is also in the process of upgrading its banking software solution, in an effort to better utilize its staff and take advantage of improved operating efficiencies.
"The upgrade has been a difficult process for us, because it is such a major change from what we have been accustomed to, but the opportunities that will come forth from the new conversion will be extremely powerful in terms of our ability to have most of our operating processes automated, thereby allowing the consumers to benefit from improved customer service," noted McWeeney.
Last year, Bank of The Bahamas reported its best performance ever, with net income of $10.2 million, up from $7 million the year before.
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