Despite speculation that Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) is looking to pull out of the Caribbean, the Canadian banking powerhouse has yet to confirm calling time on its regional operations.
Antigua’s Minister of Information Melford Nicholas is reported as declaring in a post-Cabinet briefing that RBC was looking to offload its Caribbean assets to regional banking players.
In response, Director of Sales, Effectiveness, Strategic and Corporate Communications for RBC ( Caribbean Banking), Jacqueline Taggart was most emphatic.
“ RBC has had a presence in the Caribbean for more than a 100 years. Rumours of our impending departure have likely been around for more than 99 of those years. While we originated in Canada, we have deep roots in the Caribbean and the countries where we operate, with a vested interest in the growth and development of our communities.
“All three of the major Canadian banks hold 60 per cent of the Caribbean’s total banking assets.”
“ For several years, RBC Caribbean Banking has been on a path to become the premier digitally-enabled relationship bank in the Caribbean markets we serve. We continue to base our-strategy and growth in the region on three imperatives: build a high-performance culture; focus on and expand our relationships with our clients by providing solutions and services they value; and leverage RBC innovation and capabilities to serve our clients with excellence anytime and anywhere.
“Our clients are our first priority and that commitment is constant in the strategic business decisions we make. Our ongoing focus is to ensure our business services, structure and priorities support our strategic vision, drive our financial performance, and improve the client experience.”
The Globe and Mail newspaper wrote: “By 2008, the three Canadian banks (RBC, Scotiabank and CIBC) had Cdn$42 billion in assets across the English Caribbean -2.5 per cent of their combined total assets, but more than four times those held by the 40-odd locally owned banks. With such a dominant footprint, RBC, Scotiabank and CIBC hardly had to spend to build brand awareness, they could milk money just by being there.”
Back in 2014, RBC sold its operations in Jamaica to Sagicor. That same year, RBC closed the door on its Caribbean wealth management units in the Bahamas, Barbados and the Cayman Islands.
All three of the major Canadian banks hold 60 per cent of the Caribbean’s total banking assets and this can lead to exposure to foreign financial downturns.
“What we’re seeing is the banks are doing a thorough evaluation of their business mix and figuring out what makes sense long term and what is probably best left in the hands of someone else,” said Craig Fehr, an analyst with Edward Jones.