By Ron Daniel
There comes a time in the life of any country where we must reflect on the significance of a date or an institution and its import on our history. Such a day was Wednesday 9th December 2015 which marked 30 years of existence for the Bank of Nevis in Nevis. When one looks at the contribution of the Bank to the development of the nation’s economy, the nation’s psyche, the nation’s ability and the nation’s agility, we have to conclude that indeed the Bank of Nevis is more than just a bank.
On the occasion of the 30th Anniversary of the Bank, it unveiled a portrait of Sir Simeon Daniel who was the visionary and founder of the Bank. On the occasion of the bank’s opening on December 9th 1985, Sir Simeon Daniel who was Premier for the island of Nevis said “I see a bank as an important actor in the whole drama of Nation development. And I see a bank which is owned by us as a new actor, one whose ideas are not predisposed or set in an intractable direction but one which is aware of the social weaknesses plaguing our island. An actor who is prepared to reach down to the depth of our problems and come up with solutions which are workable and tailored to our needs.” Thirty years after, the legacy of the Bank is still one which continues to find a way to tailor to the needs of the ordinary man who wants a loan to build his house in Bath, the businessman who wants to build apartments for the students in St James, the ambitious group who wants to build condos to cater to the tourism market, the student who wants to go away and earn a degree, the government who wants money to invest in roads and infrastructural development, the young man who wants to own a car or the family who wants a soft loan to take a vacation or make home improvements inter alia. This bank, my bank, your bank, our bank has been there for all of us whether we wanted roads, a ride or a roof. It is not just a Bank in Nevis; It is the Bank of Nevis by Nevis for Nevis and indeed St Kitts and even those in the Diaspora.
As we celebrate the Bank’s 30th anniversary it is important that we pay homage to some of the architects who would have contributed to the thirty year edifice today. We reflect on the first Board of Directors – Mr. Spencer Howell, Mr. Timothy Mosley, Ms. Catherine Nicholls, The Honourable Joseph Parry and Mr. Carlton Parris who gave the Bank its strategic vision in its formative years. The first general Manager, Mr. Richard Lupinacci, who still serves the Board as a Director and Mr. Julian Nisbett who served as its first Accountant. We recall Mr. Irving Brantley of blessed memory who would have been the first person to deposit money into the Bank of Nevis. We continue to build on his seed of faith today. We remember people like Mr. Joseph Morton, Ms. Valencia Williams and Ms. Jasmine Daniel who along with Mr Lupinacci were the first employees of the Bank.
We cannot ignore the contributions of work-horses like Mr. Hanzel Manners and Mr. Rawlinson Isaac who would have served as CFO and General Manager of the Bank respectively and who both served as Chairmen of the Board of Directors at different periods of time. Mr. Reginald Kawaja who was a long standing director and legal counsel for the Bank of Nevis must also be recognized for his financial and intellectual deposits into the Bank of Nevis. It would be remiss of me to forget the ever sanguine Lyra Richards who served in various Management capacities in the Bank for decades and also as Corporate Secretary. It is noteworthy that the present Credit Administration Manager Ms. Patricia Lescott has worked at the bank for 29 years and The IT Manager Trevor Hendrickson and BONI Operations Manager Mrs. Paula Wallace have served the bank for more than 25 years. My age or lack thereof precludes me from being able to mention other architects of this great institution known as the Bank of Nevis.
When we put the contributions of the bank in context, we note that the Bank has given in excess of $450 million dollars of loans over the last 30 years. I am forced to ask myself where Nevis would be without the Bank of Nevis. The global economic crisis which began in 2008 has led to a number of foreign banks down-sizing and laying off a number of workers throughout the Caribbean and in both St Kitts and Nevis. However The Bank of Nevis even in the midst of the worst economic storm has kept all of its workers and continues to punch above its weight on the local market. The Bank continues to cater to the Nevisian public by opening later than all the other banks in the market and offering the best rates on loans anywhere for our people. The Bank continues to hold true to its promise some thirty years ago of “improving the quality of life” for all its customers because the Bank unlike other institutions is not divorced from its customers and their needs. The Bank continues its philanthropic efforts with its contributions in health, sports, education, socially propitious initiatives, historical conservation and culture among other things.
The Bank has a number of challenges that it must face in the near future such as FACTA, the new Banking Act, the global economic climate and the pressure to amalgamate but I believe, like it has done in the past, the Bank will rise to the occasion. It will need to continue to hold true to its tagline of “Improving the Quality of Life” and borrow one from Boeing, “Forever New Frontiers”. After all; it’s more than just a Bank!