Strategic plan for Scotia Ja in 2019 ...Buildout of multi-platform, 1 branch to go

Business reporter

Sunday, December 09, 2018

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With eyes on the proposed sale of Scotiabank's banking asset in nine Caribbean countries, and plans to divest its life insurance business in Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago to Sagicor, Chief Executive Officer David Noel says Scotiabank's local operations will see market penetration strategies being rolled out in 2019.

In reasoning that the restructuring will better position the company to support its customers, Noel announced plans to invest $450 million in the revamp of the Scotia Centre branch in anticipation of the closure of its King Street branch. The branch is expected to be shuttered next October.

Noel, who was speaking at a press conference on Friday at the bank's headquarters at the corner of Duke and Port Royal Streets, Kingston, noted that the decision to shutter the King street location comes amid a 30 per cent reduction in the number of transactions at both the Duke Street and King Street branches over the past three years.

“The reduction is for a number of reasons: online, mobile and ATMs becoming more prevalent. We want to make a significant investment in our branches but we want to start with our head office location which is downtown Kingston.

“It would not have made sense to renovate both those branches which is a five minutes walk away. It's not just changing the interiors, it's extending the walls to accommodate a premium banking centre and areas in which we can have discussion with our customers,” Noel told journalists.

According to Noel, the expansion of the Scotia Centre will allow for staff from the King Street operation to be reintegrated into its system, even as the company works to reorganise its operation across the Caribbean.

“Given the fact that we are having more and more in sales roles, more and more people serving customers, we are confident that those employees at the King Street branch we will be able to be accommodated it at the Scotiabank centre location or multiple other branches across Kingston. We don't expect any material job losses from that closure, and what we expect is to find employment for those who would like employment in other areas; we will provide retraining,” the CEO said.

And in line with the restructuring, Scotia also disclosed plans to invest in up to 15 Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) across the island later this month in time for the busy Christmas period. The bank has also committed to rolling out a new platform to provide customers with banking transactions, in an attempt to greater educate its customers on how fees are applied along with fees that have been waived.

Scotia is taking its customer experience a step further and is offering customers using Digicel network unlimited access to its Scotia banking app, with or without data service. The company is now working to provide Flow customers with access to convenient banking free of data charges.

“Banking is changing. We are excited about this. We are seeing a change in the way customers do business. Thirteen per cent of our customers do business in the branch, versus 21 per online. Two years ago, that would have been the reverse.

“We are also taking the time to ensure that customers who aren't as technologically savvy know how to use our digital products. We've had seminars on how to use the technology in branch. We have rolled out wifi, just doing things to ensure that we can help our customers to move along on this journey,” Noel explained.

But in spite of the plans highlighted by Scotia to improve its customer experience, some trade unionists are still uneasy about the bank's plan to sell its banking asset in nine Caribbean countries. The background noise is that the company is moving its operation in regions which have little to no union representatives.

In addressing the issue, Noel reasoned that Scotiabank currently has Centres of Excellence in multiple Caribbean countries, including Jamaica. The bank's contact centre in Jamaica serves all of the countries in the English-speaking Caribbean, while in the Dominican Republic, Scotia's Centre of Excellence is focused on processing.

As for Trinidad and Tobago, Scotiabank currently operates a centre of excellence which focuses on collections.

“So each of those centres of excellence provides our business with the ability to more efficiently meet our operating needs and ultimately deliver benefits to our customers. I appreciate the concerns that the union raised and rightly raised; that's their role to protect workers. But we have always resolved our issues with the unions and we are confident that we will come to a mutually accepted solution on this particular issue,” Noel argued, adding that the concern with a country saying everything should be owned in the country could meet inefficiencies and hurt Jamaica.

“If we were to say jobs should only exist in the country where the work is being done, it would be that Jamaica's Contact Centre should not be serving multiple countries as we are doing now. Our contact centre serves Trinidad; Trinidad serves us from a collections perspective.”

He noted that if the bank tries to replicate a contact centre or administrative processing centre in every country it will lose efficiency, lose the advantage to scale and will not be able to apply technology to help the business become more efficient.

“One of our strengths as a regional player is we need to leverage operations in different markets to support the business. So we always ensure that we engage our union in appropriate dialogue when we are making decisions. There are times when we are going to have disagreements and I respect the right of the union to disagree, but with consultation, discussion and compromise, we have always been able to find a solution and I expect that to be the case here,” Noel said.

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