VM sets up new Strategic Investments Unit after tough restructure

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

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A seven-month long restructuring exercise at Victoria Mutual Group has culminated in the development of a Strategic Investments Unit within the financial institution's investment arm, placing even more focus on the execution of potential mergers and acquisitions by the institution in the coming year.

Victoria Mutual Group Chief Investment Officer, CEO and Managing Director of Victoria Mutual Investments Limited (VMIL) and Victoria Mutual Wealth Management (VMWM), Devon Barrett, will sit as head of the new department.

His promotion takes effect January 1, 2019.

Barrett assumed leadership of VMWM in 2008, when the subsidiary had net profit after tax of $59 million and assets under management of $8.3 billion. By 2017, the numbers grew to $354.9 million and $39.93 billion respectively.

“VMWM is poised to continue to benefit from Mr Barrett's expertise and to reap new rewards with his enhanced focus on pursuing a steady stream of mergers, acquisitions and other strategic alliances,” the company said.

VMIL, in announcing the organisational changes on the Jamaica Stock Exchange last week, said Rezworth Burchenson will replace Barrett as CEO and managing director of VMIL and VMWM. Burchenson is currently employed at the financial group as deputy CEO of VMIL and VMWM, as well as CEO of Victoria Mutual Pensions Management Limited (VMPM).

Head of VMWM Capital Markets, Colando Hutchinson, will move up to the post of deputy CEO.

In his new role, Hutchinson, working with Burchenson, will lead the execution of the agreed initiatives to accelerate the growth of VMWM.

Burchenson's foray into the financial services sector began at Sigma Investments Ltd, where he was employed in the role of investment analyst. He was subsequently promoted to equity/research manager and later vice-president and general manager at the merged Pan Caribbean Asset Management Ltd, with responsibility for managing Jamaica's largest unit trust (Sigma Unit Trust).

In early 2006, Burchenson joined Prime Asset Management Ltd as managing director.

He became part of the Victoria Mutual team in 2013 when Victoria Mutual Group acquired Prime Asset Management Ltd, which was renamed Victoria Mutual Pensions Management Limited in 2017. Burchenson assumed the additional role of deputy CEO of VMIL which owns VMWM on September 1, 2016.

VM Group began its restructuring exercise in May with a view to positioning the company for improved growth.

The exercise, which was done department by department, saw VM Group extending invitations for staff members to voluntarily resign their employment with the financial institution. At the same time, the company sought to combine some jobs, create new posts.

“We also created some new roles because we are placing emphasis on some new areas,” President and CEO Courtney Campbell previously said. He joined the VM Group in April 2016.

Opening its doors as a mortgage institution in 1878, Victoria Mutual now offers wealth management and financial advisory services, real estate and commercial property management services, money transfer services, pension administration and investment management services, as well as property, casualty and liability insurance.

The services are offered through its strategic business units Victoria Mutual Wealth Management Ltd, Prime Asset Management Ltd, Victoria Mutual Money Transfer Services, Victoria Mutual Property Services, and affiliate company British Caribbean Insurance Company.

VM Group, which has operations both in Jamaica and overseas, remains as the only building society in Jamaica, with operating revenue of $6.5 billion and $77 billion in savings. For the financial year ended 2017, VM Group had $123 billion in assets.

— Karena Bennett

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