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TONY BEST: Proud to be a banker

Tony Best

TONY BEST: Proud to be a banker

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There are some places Wayne Griffith knows like the back of his hand.

At the top of the list is Barbados, the home of his parents, George and Norma Griffith, who are from St Lucy and who emigrated to Canada in the 1960s in search of a better life.

They remained there in Canada ever since while owning and enjoying a “piece of the rock,” as so many members of the Bajan Diaspora call their birthplace.

Next is the French-speaking City of Montreal where he was born, raised and received his formal education and training as a banker.

Incidentally, it was from the French-speaking province of Quebec that Griffith used to leave every summer for Barbados to spend weeks on end frolicking in the surf, taking in the landscape, playing with relatives and friends and otherwise getting to know the country his parents spoke about almost daily.

Then, there is the Cayman Islands, where the bilingual banker – English and French – worked for almost four years as head of HSBC’s retail banking and wealth management operations. HSBC, a global commercial financial institution, has thousands of branches in Canada, the US, Britain and elsewhere, while the Cayman Islands is widely known as a leader in international banking, investment and wealth management.

Finally, there is Greater Toronto, the sprawling Canadian metropolis that tens of thousands of Bajans and other West Indians consider a place of opportunity.

Today, the Bajan Canadian, a “proud” holder of a Barbadian passport, is a regional vice-president of the Royal Bank of Canada with  responsibility for more than a dozen of RBC’s 200-plus branches.

“Greater Toronto is a highly competitive market, with millions of families and large, medium-size and small businesses and a wide range of educational and other social and financial institutions,” explained Griffith. “It has a large and diverse immigrant population. The branches for which I am responsible have between 150-200 employees. I am enjoying the challenge Royal Bank offers and I intend to remain with the bank for the rest of my career.”

He joined RBC earlier this year after HSBC decided to sell parts of its retail banking and wealth management business along with sections of its commercial banking activity in the Cayman Islands to Butterfield Bank.

“When that happened I began to explore opportunities in Canada and that’s when Royal Bank offered me the position I now hold. I saw it as an excellent chance to return to Canada and move further ahead with my career. RBC is one of the top employers in Canada and a sound, professional bank with which to do business. It is firmly committed to the communities it serves and that was appealing to me. I was also attracted to the bank by its tremendous leadership.”

Griffith brought a wealth of knowledge and experience in the financial services industry to his new position at RBC. A graduate of Concordia University in Montreal, the Bajan holds a Bachelor’s degree of commerce and a number of other financial planning designations from Concordia, the Canadian Securities Institute, the Institute of Canadian Bankers and McGill University’s Executive Institute.

“It has been a rewarding and exciting career and I would advise Barbadian youth to consider banking when contemplating what they wish to do in life,” he said. “In today’s environment, banking can take you all over the world and it gives young people a chance to explore foreign cultures and business patterns.”

And as if those rewards weren’t enough, success in banking spawns parental pride, he said.

“My parents often tell me how proud they are of my achievements, and that means quite a lot to me,” he said.

Tony Best is the Nation’s North American correspondent.