Marcus James, founder and previously the CEO of Access Financial Services, became chairman of the board effective June 3, 2021. (Photo: Jamaica Observer)

Access Financial appoints new expansion and acquisition head

Marcus James, founder and previously the CEO of Access Financial Services, became chairman of the board effective June 3, 2021. (Photo: Jamaica Observer)

Access Financial Services Limited (AFS) has announced the appointment of Marcus James as executive chairman and the promotion of Frederick Williams to the role of CEO with direct responsibility for the execution of expansion and acquisition strategies and “maximising synergies.”

The appointments took effect on June 3, 2021.

James replaces Christopher Williams, head of finance company Proven Investments Limited, as executive chairman. However, the latter will stay on as a director of Access Financial.

Head of Proven Investments Limited Christopher Williams no longer serves as chairman of Access Financial Services Limited but maintains directorship on the latter company’s board of directors. (File photo)

The new CEO, Frederick Williams, is a chartered accountant “with extensive experience in accounting, strategic planning, business reengineering, and risk management in the financial services industry”.

He joined the company in October 2019 as chief operating officer and subsequently earned a promotion to post of general manager. 

In his previous role, Frederick was responsible for the day-to-day leadership and management of Access Financial with special focus on digital transformation and improved operational efficiencies in serving the needs of customers in the microfinance industry.

Former general manager of Access Financial Services Limited Frederick Williams began serving as the company’s CEO effective June 2, 2021. (Photo: Access Financial Services)

Expanding and acquiring Access

Access Financial offers business and personal loans within the microfinance sector. The company was incorporated in 2000 and was the first company to list on the Junior Market of the Jamaica Stock Exchange in 2009.

James, who founded the Access Financial back in 2000, headed the company as CEO from its inception until 2019, when he took on the role of group CEO with the acquisition of Embassy Loans Inc — a wholly owned subsidiary located in Florida, USA. 

Chris Williams became chairman of Access Financial after his company acquired a 49.7 per cent stake in the microfinance outfit after it purchased shares from Mayberry Investments Limited in December 2014 for JM$1.2 billion at JM$32 per share.

Proven subsequently sold a part of this holding but remains the second-largest shareholder in the company with 67,861,415 units or a 24.72 per cent stake.

Managing the pandemic

For the nine months ended December 31, 2020, Access Financial recorded consolidated net profit after tax of JM$128 million compared to JM$369 million for the similar period in 2019.

Management said that the performance of the group reflects the impact of COVID-19 over the past nine months as loan disbursements have declined year over year due to the reduction in economic activity. 

Access Financial Services’ headquarters in St Andrew, Jamaica (Photo: YouTube)

Loans and advances at nine months stood at JM$4.05 billion, a reduction of 12 per cent year over year based on the lower level of disbursements. 

Net operating income for the nine months ended December 31, 2020, amounted to JM$1.35 billion, a decrease of JM$345 million or 20  per cent compared to the corresponding period last year.

Net interest income and net fee and commission income also declined based on the reduction in disbursements for the period as a result of COVID-19.