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Cautious but optimistic banking sector


SHAWN CUMBERBATCH

Cautious but optimistic banking sector

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BARBADOS IS SLOWLY regaining its appetite for commercial bank credit, which could be a sign that its economic engine is “starting back up again”.

“Cautious but optimistic” is how Barbados Bankers’ Association president Glyne Harrison described the market to BARBADOS BUSINESS AUTHORITY.

He said savings acccounts “continue to be the traditional account of choice for the average Barbadian”, and that mortgages “continue to be of interest to the public”. Banks were also now seeing “some improvement” in loan enquiries, but he said it was unclear if this would “translate into hard numbers during the course of 2015”.

Harrison, who is First Citizens (Barbados) Limited’s chief executive officer, said: “My expectations for the remainder of 2015 are that people will continue to be cautious but optimistic. I think that people are now in the stage where they are starting to come back and starting to review options, and I think that those reviews will continue.

“They may not translate into hard numbers during the course of 2015 but I think people are again starting to say ‘well, let me look at what options are available to me for various things’. As a country that really and truly requires the credit appetite to grow again, I think that’s a start in the right direction.”

Asked to what extent Barbadians were regaining their appetite for loans, he said improvements were not “huge”, but “you are obviously seeing a reflection of the engine starting back up again, we are starting to see a lot more enquiries, especially around the commercial side of things”.

“There has been an increase in confidence of some sort going on. You will look at the last tourist numbers that came out, so you see that the numbers themselves are improving and perhaps this is driving some confidence back into the economy,” Harrison said.

“We are seeing that mortgages continue to be of interest to [the] public, so the average person is still very much curious about getting to own a piece of the rock, so we are still seeing that mortgages continue to be the place where most interest is. But overall, I think that there has been some positive movement in the various indicators to suggest that we are once again starting to move in the right direction.”

In relation to savings, the senior banker also observed that “there is a growing pocket of people who are doing research . . . who really and truly want to get the most from their money”.

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