Business

Sagicor Bank to boost SME unit

Friday, January 17, 2014    

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SAGICOR Bank Jamaica will bolster its small business unit by seeking technical help from the International Finance Corporation (IFC), the financing arm of the World Bank, valued at some US$290,000 ($30.7 million).

The bank views this market as critical to its growth. The project will start shortly and run for a year until June 2015.

"SME will be the cornerstone of our bank, We are smaller than National Commercial Bank and Bank of Nova Scotia and unlike these larger banks we can't be all [things] to large companies. But we can carve a niche and that would be in servicing our SME partner needs," said Phillip Armstrong, managing director of Sagicor Bank, in an Observer interview yesterday.

This project will support Sagicor Bank in setting up best practices to develop its business. It will include the development of a new SME business strategy and workplan; mapping of operations; revision, optimisation and formalisation of SME credit policies and procedures; evaluation and refinement of small and medium enterprise banking products; development of a SME sales model; and delivery of training/coaching.

Sagicor Bank set up its SME unit, which is roughly headed by Sabrina Cooper, 12 to 15 months ago. The unit-branded Business Priority Unit offers average loans from $8 million to roughly $60 million, said Armstrong.

"We will focus on the process of choosing the appropriate products, best way to facilitate credit adjudication because sometimes SME are less organised than larger businesses," said Armstrong. when asked about the priority areas of concern.

Armstrong chose the IFC due its "experience in doing these initiatives worldwide".

The former PanCaribbean Bank became Sagicor Bank Jamaica in December 2012 as part of a rebranding exercise approved by shareholders.

The changes were made to align the PanCaribbean brand with that of its parent company, Sagicor.

The bank currently has the second smallest local commercial banking operation when measured by assets -- which was some $21.9 billion at the end of September 2013, according to Bank of Jamaica statistics. National Commercial Bank remains the largest institution, with $298.7 billion total assets, followed by Scotiabank with $240.9 billion. RBC Royal Bank at third with $56.8 billion in assets.

Sagicor Jamaica Group dominates the insurance industry and also has an investments arm.

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