JN Group resilient despite setbacks in 2020

The Jamaica National (JN) Group, having witnessed some setbacks last year, has touted its resilience going forward after securing $619 million in profits despite the challenges in its last financial year.

The challenges brought on by the novel coronavirus pandemic and an unfortunate cyber attack of its information technology systems early last year led to the group’s increasing its operational expenses year on year to approximately $18.8 billion.

Speaking at its recently concluded fourth annual general meeting held in hybrid format, Earl Jarrett, deputy chairman and chief executive officer (CEO) of the JN Group, said that heavy investments in ensuring the safety of employees and providing assistance to members via service delivery channels and business continuity contributed to these heightened expenses.

“Over 40 per cent of our employees are working from home, with policies and procedures that enable them to do so. We have invested heavily in giving our staff members the tools and technologies to be able to work from home and to do transactions away from the office and to effectively work in the normal way,” he said, noting that some $19.5 million was spent to facilitate this.

Jarrett also said that had it not been for significant credit loss provisions or expected credit loss (ECL) last year, the group would have yielded higher profits.

“These have impacted our operations negatively. We mentioned a $619-million after tax net profit, but I should share with you that the profit before tax was $1.3 billion, and of that amount $820 million represented the impaired loss estimate which has been sucked from our revenues,” he told members who participated in the meeting remotely.

In its segmented performance, the group, through its general insurance subsidiary, saw a $131-million underwriting loss. Weak performance was also reported for its newest United Kingdom (UK) digital bank operation, which recorded a $682-million loss equivalent to £4 million – a performance the group said was expected based on some missed opportunities brought on by the pandemic.

“The UK operations, this year, has been going pretty good, we [already] have some £6 million plus in loans, and deposits in excess of £30 million,” he stated.

The deputy chairman and CEO in his highlight of financial performance also said that over the last four years total assets up to 2020 grew to $232 billion with investment incomes of $675 million. Gains on investment, which he said was the source of profitability, amounted to $1.2 billion for the year.

He said that the group in going forward was, however, cautiously optimistic as it moves to engage the requisite strategy, resources, people and leadership to establish the institution as the provider of choice for financial and other services.

“We’re using the current period to tune our organisation to be better, to be stronger, so that at the right time we will be the choice of persons here in Jamaica, UK, Cayman Island, Canada and the USA,” he stated.

He further noted that the group, in advancing its digital transformation objective, was also now working through a one JN project to streamline all the services offered by the group, to allow members to easily acquire services across all its subsidiaries.