Financial Services Sector Encouraged to Promote Excellence

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Barbara Ferguson, assistant manager of account investigations and fraud at the Royal Bank of Canada was crowned Professional of the Year at the Bahamas Financial Services Industry Excellence Awards Banquet at Sandals Royal Bahamian Spa Resort & Offshore Island. Pictured from left are Wendy Warren, BFSB CEO and Executive Director; Ms Ferguson; and the Hon Zhivargo Laing, Minister of State for Finance. (BIS Photo: Kristaan Ingraham) 

By: Lindsay Thompson

NASSAU, Bahamas – The movers and shakers in the financial services sector were urged to promote quality in the second pillar of the economy during the industry’s excellence awards banquet on Saturday, October 27.

The comments came from Minister of State for Finance the Hon. Zhivargo Laing, who delivered the keynote address at the Bahamas Financial Services Board 2007 gala event held at Sandals Royal Bahamian Spa Resort & Offshore Island.

Top honours went to T Baswell Donaldson, chairman of Commonwealth Bank, who was bestowed with the Lifetime Achievement Award. Amongst his credits are the first and longest serving Governor of the Central Bank of the Bahamas as well as Governor at the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Caribbean Development Bank.

Governor General His Excellency Arthur Hanna in presenting the prestigious award noted that Mr. Donaldson made the Central Bank of The Bahamas “into a respectable bank in the world”.

Other winners included: La’Nelle Deleveaux, Financial Services Student of the Year, Marvin Nairn, senior trust service officer – Cititrust (Bahamas) Limited, Achiever of the Year; Barbara Ferguson, assistant manager of account investigation and fraud – Royal Bank of Canada, Professional of the Year Brian Moree, senior partner – McKinney Bancroft & Hughes and Commonwealth Bank, the Financial Services Development and Promotion Bank Award.

According to Mr. Laing, as it is his national duty to address the industry, the purpose of every citizen is to achieve the level of happiness which his or her private initiative and community contribution can support.

“Important to realising this national purpose is a stable, productive economy under girded by the principles of free enterprise, equity and fiscal and monetary soundness,” he said.

Mr. Laing noted that The Bahamas has enjoyed some success in achieving this national purpose, supported by an economy manifesting some of the required conditions he outlined.
He credited this growth, in part, to the work of the Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB), which was instituted in April, 1998. Its primary mandate was to identify opportunities for growth in the financial service sector.

The BFSB, a private sector-led body which is partially funded by Government, is also charged with the responsibility of promoting The Bahamas as a jurisdiction of choice to key international players in the sector.

In its promotional efforts, BFSB advises potential investors desiring to provide financial services in The Bahamas of the country’s sound economic and political structure.

“The Bahamas Financial Services Board has excellently fulfilled its original mandate,” Mr. Laing said.

He pointed out that the excellence awards banquet is a testament of BFSB effort and is one of its initiatives aimed at encouraging Bahamians to perform at the highest level in order to adequately service the increasingly demanding clientele who patronise the sector.

“This annual excellence awards banquet provides an opportunity for the industry to identify and honour those who have achieved success in their roles as executives and professionals within the industry,” Mr. Laing said.

An added element is honouring students who have also excelled, while studying toward a future in the industry.

Mr. Laing also shed light on his recent trips to Guyana for the Commonwealth Finance Ministers Meeting, the IMF/World Bank meetings in Washington and a Financing for Development Meeting at the United Nations in New York.

“Fortunately, the general consensus is that global economic fundamentals are sound with developing countries showing strong prospects for growth despite weakening performance in some developed economies,” he said.

“These recent events reveal our need to be vigilant about our competitiveness and resilience, as they demonstrate the fact that our world is truly integrated but that sound national polices can serve as a shield in troubled times.

“Toward this end, we must promote excellence in service in our predominately service economy. Our professionals must step up to the plate and give their clients the type of service that makes them never give a second thought to where they want to get that service,” Mr. Laing said.
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Governor General His Excellency Arthur Hanna presents T Baswell Donaldson, chairman of Commonwealth Bank, with the Bahamas Financial Services Board Lifetime Achievement Award at the Industry Awards Banquet held at Sandals Royal Bahamian Spa Resort & Offshore Island. (BIS Photo: Kristaan Ingraham)