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Positive report from banking head

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Positive report from banking head

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Things are beginning to look bright within the banking industry, says Barbados Bankers’ Association president Derwin Howell.
He was speaking to BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY shortly after the first in a series of quarterly breakfast seminars hosted by Barbados National Bank (BNB) at the Island Inn Hotel last Thursday.
“All indications are that [the banking sector] is turning around,” said the BNB managing director at the seminar for commercial customers.
“Things are picking up. We see business picking up from all perspectives.?Certainly from the corporate side, we are seeing applications coming in – which is always a good sign.
“On the mortgages side, we are seeing again an increase in applications and [an] increase in disbursement of mortgages. Housing is something that is always in demand and we have seen a pick-up on that side.
“On the retail side of things [business and personal loans], it is not as much as the mortgages but holding its own.”
Howell noted that while there were some improvements in that sector, it would take some time for them to be realised.
“Banking tends to lag [behind] the economy because it takes a while for the funds that come in to sort of trickle down and you will find, for instance, where we would have had a good winter, we would not start seeing that coming through until a little later on and we do hope that the prediction for the economy will come true.
“While we will take a little while to pick up when the good times start, we also take a little while to show the bad results when the bad times come in,” he explained.
He said the banking industry in Barbados and most parts of the region had good capital and operated with a certain level of “conservatism and prudence”, and that was a good thing.
Therefore, he said, banks in Barbados “would not suffer as some other banks across the world have”.
Howell, who is also chief executive officer of BNB, said that while fraud was “not a big factor in the banking industry”, the company was staying vigilant and taking proactive steps.
“I will tell you that as you see economies get harder, you will see things like fraud start to pick up. So none of us [is] going to sit back and wait for it to happen. Banks are very big [on] process and procedures and controls, so all our controls are designed to minimise any opportunity for fraud and so on,” he said.
Howell said banks were also placing more emphasis on customer service and putting procedures and various programmes in place to better help small and medium-sized businesses and entrepreneurs – not only with funding, but through providing information, training and tips. (MM)