‘Never again’ repeat CLICO, BAICO
CASTRIES – The head of St Lucia’s business community on Friday challenged Caribbean financial advisors meeting here to look to Canada as an example and to pledge to “never again” replay the crisis that led to the collapse of insurance firms CLICO and British American.
Speaking to the Caribbean Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, Chamber of Commerce President Chester Hinkson – the country manager of Canada’s Bank of Nova Scotia – urged the group to take a page from the Canadian financial systems and market, which he said were the envy of the world.
“[Canada] has survived the vicissitudes of the worst financial turbulence in recent years on all fronts. Do not oppose regulation, do not oppose legislation, encourage regular reviews of your operations and systems,” Hinkson told the gathering.
“Never again should we allow ourselves to be faced with a crisis such as has been experienced with the CLICO and BAICO fiasco. Promise yourselves – not under my watch . . . Too many families’ economic lives have been shattered,” Hinkson added.
But the banker also urged the financial advisors and insurance executives to avoid copying or emulating everything that the developed countries do because they seemed to make the same mistakes over and over again.
“You can modernize without being fully westernized,” he told the association. “Remember that change is the only constant there is and if we do not recognize and appreciate that the way we think, the way we did business in the past, the way we treat employees, the way we spend the company’s money and even our own have all changed.”
Hinkson, a former head of the bankers association here, spoke on the theme of “leading in times of uncertainty”.
He said that it was these times like these “where greed takes precedence over need, where the likes of the Madoffs and the Stanfords have had people to question the integrity of the business community particularly the insurance and banking sectors, there is urgent need for us as leaders to adopt what I refer to as the CIFE Principle, and that is, Creativity, Innovation, Flexibility and Efficiency.
“In doing this, we will hopefully regain the trust that we once held by the wider public. And to regain that trust we must show the world that we and the corporations that we represent operate with the highest level of honesty, transparency and integrity,” he told the meeting.
But Hinkson also called on his audience to “move away from all this gloom and doom”, arguing that periods of recession and inflation, the economic cycles facing the region now are nothing new.
“It is not really what has happened that matters, but rather how we react to what has happened. It is your job as leaders to find creative ways through contingency planning and other innovative means to weather those economic storms.”
He continued: “You have the experience right in this room. Put on your God-given hat of Wisdom and go out there and make a difference. The people need you, your families need you, and your countries need you. When you are asked what legacy did you leave, you can proudly and boldly refer to this era where you led in times of uncertainty.”
The St Lucian banker suggested that in these trying times, leaders must seek wisdom, even before they sought a salary increase or a bonus.
The chamber of commerce head also sought to challenge the financial advisors’ group to be prepared to take tough leadership decisions in the current environment.
“We must take some tough decisions which could make us unpopular, like getting rid of poor performers even if they have been around from inception. In times of uncertainty, you do not look for popularity; you look for decision makers on whose wisdom you can rely. If your goal and objective is to be popular, then you should try Hollywood. Go join Denzel Washington; get out of the insurance business.” (CMC)