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Barita Investments Acknowledge Frontally The Concerns And Disquiet Of The Market And Investing Public Caused By Various Emergent Allegations Of Fraud In The Industry.

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Our results were achieved against the backdrop of an operating environment characterised by rising inflation and tightening local and global monetary policy, which have collectively continued to challenge net interest margins and cause volatility in asset prices, especially in relation to traditional financial assets.

Our proactive decision over the past 3 years to allocate capital to real estate, private equity and private credit in our portfolio has been justified given the outperformance of these asset classes in the current economic cycle relative to traditional financial assets, consistent with sound portfolio diversification principles.

As a result, we have thus far managed to weather headwinds caused by continued inflation and the accelerated rise of interest rates related to the residual effects of two years of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ongoing conflict in Eastern Europe.

We have also continued to build the capacity of our core business through investing in our talent and the overhaul of our information technology platforms. This transcends across our Group’s ecosystem as Cornerstone has made similar investments in technology at our sister company Cornerstone Trust and Merchant Bank (“CT MB”), aspects of which are the subject of an application to the Bank of Jamaica (“BOJ”) pending approval.

We acknowledge frontally the concerns and disquiet of the market and investing public caused by various emergent allegations of fraud in the industry. This, however, should be taken in the context of the positive outlook for Jamaica’s economy as objectively assessed in the IMF’s recently published Article IV consultation. At Barita, we take the trust and confidence of our customers very seriously and recognize how critical it is to our business and by extension to the stability of our financial system. We are also proud of our resilience, prudence, and the various lines of defence that have been deliberately built & strengthened since the acquisition by Cornerstone.

This resilience – which is most apparently demonstrated through our robust capital base, heavy investment in bolstering our control environment, risk management framework, and governance – positions our business well to enhance and protect shareholder value. This gives us the confidence to unequivocally undertake to fully reimburse our customers in the event of occupational fraud. Importantly, notwithstanding our position of strength, we continue to take steps to deepen our resilience, consistent with our commitment to continuous improvement, For example, the upgrade of the technology at Barita and its sister company CTMB, not only future-proofs those businesses, but are key to the mitigation of operational risks, including fraud and AML/CFT risks.

Significantly, as it relates to internal fraud in Barita, CTMB, or Cornerstone, our internal control and governance processes are designed to detect these incidents and encourage reporting to independent internal and external parties, including our regulators and law enforcement. This is supported by our Whistle-blower Policy, our Code of Conduct, our Corporate Governance Policy and other feedback loops; which ensure that no employee, related party, executive, or director, is powerful enough to be shielded from our zero-tolerance stance on internal fraud and our strict adherence to the established process and consequence management in this regard. Barita, CT MB and the Cornerstone Board continue to operate with the highest levels of integrity, prudence, and ethical standards.

Through prudent and disciplined capital injections across its operating entities, Cornerstone has ensured, post-acquisition in September 2018, the establishment of a robust back stop against financial and operational risks, as evidenced by the exemplary capital base of Barita, standing at an industry leading $34 billion as at December 2022. This strength of capital translates into a capital adequacy ratio of 35% or $25 billion in excess reserves above the regulatory minimum of 10%. Cornerstone has also heavily capitalized Barita’s sister company, CTMB which reflected an unmatched capital adequacy ratio of 64% as at September 2022, more than six (6) times the regulatory minimum for deposit taking institutions (“DTI”).

This strength of capital, in addition to providing a cushion for various risks, including fraud, gives the company immense capacity to grow and supports Barita’s stated investment focus in real estate, private equity, private credit and infrastructure.

Cornerstone’s deliberate strategy since FY 2019 of building capital across its portfolio companies to levels significantly above industry norms was informed and complemented by the implementation of best-in-class governance and control frameworks. To further ensure the protection of shareholder value, the Group engaged world class consulting partners to overhaul our policies and procedures and implement our enterprise risk management framework, on-boarded additional top talent of unquestionable ethics and integrity across our three lines of defence, bolstered the independence of our second and third lines of defence through reporting lines to the board, and ensured the independence of the chairs of our Board and its sub-committees including the Audit and Corporate Governance & Conduct Review Committees.

As the contributing elements of the alleged fraud affecting the industry emerge, it will, in addition to our embedded frequent review of emerging risks, feed the continuous improvement of our control environment that minimizes the persistence of any vulnerabilities and accelerates detection of anomalies. As stated above, our investment in technology is a key element of the continuous improvement in our control environment. While we continue to overhaul Barita’s technology, we look forward BOJ’s approval of CTMB’s technology and core system upgrades.

We welcome the strengthening of the regulatory environment and look forward to contributing to the outcome of the consolidated regulatory oversight of DTIs and Securities Dealers (“SD”). This is especially as Cornerstone continues to advance the process of obtaining approval to reorganize Barita and its sister company, CTMB, under a Financial Group which will allow us to seamlessly serve a wider range of our customers’ financial affairs.

Mark Myers, Chairman Of Barita Investments Limited

Barita Investments Limited (BIL) Unaudited Financial Statements For The First Quarter Ended December 31, 2022

 

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Jamaica Is Pursuing The Strategy Of Mix Development Modalities

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“Tourism is a wealth creation and economic enrichment activity driven by the consumption and production patterns of people!”

“The strategy for destination exploitation of tourism is a composite of many modalities including business models and investment opportunities and not to be viewed through a myopic lenses.

Small highly service dependent economies such as ours must rely heavily on consumption to sustain economic growth, and expansion and Tourism has become the most effective way of achieving this as the propensity to CONSUME of the Tourist is 3-5 times that of the local! It means therefore that the expansion of the local market by increasing tourist arrivals creating a ‘critical mass’ is essential.

The proliferation of boutique hotels is not the answer when physical resources are limited. The strategy of Mix development modalities as Jamaica is pursuing, with mega hotels, boutique and sharing accommodation i.e. Airbnb etc is the most effective way forward.

The essential element of the strategy though is the production/Supply side of the wealth development equation! Jamaica’s focus must be on providing the goods and services that the Tourists demand to satisfy their consumption patterns! THATS WHERE THE REAL WEALTH OF TOURISM RESIDES! Agriculture, manufacturing, Creative Industries, Energy, Construction etc Then SERVICES; medical, financial, legal, entertainment, Restaurants, Shopping, transportation etc.

Please team let’s take a deeper dive in the confluence of economic moving parts that constitutes Tourism and recognize its elongated and expensive value chain so we can truly embrace the wealth it brings!”

Edmund Bartlett – Minister of Tourism Jamaica

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A Legacy of Leadership: Dr. Marlene Street Forrest and the Future of the Jamaica Stock Exchange

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“As the JSE looks to the future, it will be crucial to find a leader who can match, if not exceed, Dr. Street Forrest’s impressive legacy.”

Introduction
Dr. Marlene Street Forrest, who has led the Jamaica Stock Exchange (JSE) for nearly two decades, is set to retire, leaving behind a legacy of innovation and resilience. Her tenure has been marked by significant achievements and overcoming challenges in a male-dominated field, setting a high bar for her successor.

Accomplishments and Achievements
Dr. Street Forrest’s tenure at the JSE has been transformative. Under her leadership, the JSE has seen a notable increase in market activity, listings, and the introduction of new financial instruments.

She spearheaded the launch of corporate secretarial services to assist smaller companies in maintaining compliance and accurate reporting, which is crucial for their growth and sustainability​​.

In recognition of her outstanding leadership, Dr. Street Forrest received several prestigious awards, including the Order of Distinction in the Rank of Commander (CD) in 2016 and the Afroglobal Excellence Award for Global Impact from Canada the same year​.

Her efforts have not only enhanced the visibility and credibility of the JSE but have also contributed significantly to Jamaica’s economic resilience and development.

Overcoming Challenges
Leading the JSE in a male-dominated industry came with its challenges. Dr. Street Forrest often had to navigate skepticism and bias, proving her competence through relentless hard work and strategic vision.

The global financial crisis and the COVID-19 pandemic posed additional challenges, yet she successfully steered the JSE through these turbulent times by promoting market stability and investor confidence​.

Her focus on digital transformation and enhancing regulatory compliance helped the JSE remain a pivotal player in Jamaica’s economic strategy. She emphasized the importance of high-quality, timely financial information and investor education, which are critical for maintaining market integrity and attracting capital​​.

The Road Ahead: What Her Successor Needs
As the search for Dr. Street Forrest’s successor begins, the JSE requires a leader who can build on her legacy of innovation and resilience. Key characteristics for the next managing director include:

Visionary Leadership: The ability to foresee and adapt to market trends and technological advancements.
Strong Regulatory Knowledge: Ensuring compliance and fostering investor trust through transparent practices.
Commitment to Digital Transformation: Embracing new technologies to enhance market operations and accessibility.
Economic Insight: Understanding market dynamics and economic policies to drive growth and stability.
Collaboration Skills: Building strong relationships with stakeholders, including regulators, investors, and listed companies.

Benchmarking against global stock exchange leaders, the new head of the JSE should embody a blend of strategic foresight, regulatory acumen, and innovative thinking. Leaders like Adena Friedman of Nasdaq and David Schwimmer of the London Stock Exchange exemplify these traits, balancing market growth with robust governance.

Conclusion
Dr. Marlene Street Forrest’s leadership at the JSE has set a high standard, marked by significant achievements and resilience in the face of challenges. Her successor will need to bring a mix of visionary leadership, regulatory knowledge, and a commitment to digital transformation to continue driving the JSE’s growth and success. As the JSE looks to the future, it will be crucial to find a leader who can match, if not exceed, Dr. Street Forrest’s impressive legacy.

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Who is Leesa Kow? Managing Director, JN Bank and Chairman of the Caribbean Association of Banks (CAB)

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Leesa Kow is a distinguished leader in the financial sector, serving as the Managing Director of JN Bank and the Chairman of the Caribbean Association of Banks (CAB). Her career is marked by strategic vision and a commitment to digital transformation and financial inclusion.

Early Career and Professional Background
Leesa Kow joined JN Bank in 2003 as Senior Manager for Remittances. Her leadership capabilities quickly propelled her through various senior roles, including Executive of Marketing, Sales, and Promotion in 2006, and General Manager of JN Money Services Limited (JNMS) in 2008. At JNMS, Kow oversaw significant expansion, growing the company’s reach from 200 branches and agents to over 8,000 across three continents within three years, cementing JN Money as the largest remittance brand from the Caribbean​​.

Leadership at JN Bank
Kow’s ascent to the role of Managing Director in July 2022 followed her tenure as Deputy Managing Director from November 2017. As Deputy Managing Director, she was instrumental in implementing JN Bank’s digitalisation initiatives, enhancing operational efficiency and customer service. Her strategic focus on technology and innovation has been pivotal in transforming JN Bank into a more agile and customer-centric institution​​.

Contributions to the Financial Industry
Beyond her work at JN Bank, Kow has significantly impacted the broader financial services sector. Her tenure as president of the Jamaica Money Remitters Association from 2012 to 2017 showcased her leadership in advocating for the remittance industry. In October 2022, she was elected Chair of the Caribbean Association of Banks (CAB), where she continues to influence regional banking policies and practices​.

Educational Background
Leesa Kow’s academic credentials are impressive, holding a Bachelor of Science degree in Management Studies and Accounting (First Class Honours) and a Master of Science degree in International Business (Distinction) from The University of the West Indies. These qualifications underscore her strong foundation in business leadership and strategic management​​.

Impact and Vision
Under Kow’s leadership, JN Bank has made significant strides in digital transformation, positioning itself as a forward-thinking financial institution. Her vision for the future includes continued emphasis on innovation, customer service excellence, and financial inclusion. Kow’s influence extends across the Caribbean, as she leverages her roles to advocate for advancements in the banking sector and to support regional economic development.

Leesa Kow’s journey from senior manager to managing director of JN Bank exemplifies her dedication, strategic foresight, and impactful leadership. Her contributions to the financial sector and her role in shaping regional banking policies make her a notable figure in Caribbean banking, inspiring the next generation of female leaders in finance.

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Customised Smart Battery Industry Well-Positioned To Capitalise On Growing Shift Towards Cleaner Energy Solutions….Alexander Melville

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In the last three months, the ustomised smart battery industry has also made significant strides alongside the broader growth observed in the renewable energy and energy storage sectors. This niche within the energy storage market has been gaining momentum, fuelled by technological advancements and increased demand for personalised energy solutions that cater specifically to unique operational needs that benefit us.

The industry’s development is buoyed by the regulatory and financial frameworks propelling the renewable sector, particularly the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) and the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA). These acts have facilitated a surge in investments to enhance battery technology capabilities, including developing intelligent batteries that are more efficient, durable, and capable of interfacing with various digital management systems.

Customised intelligent batteries are increasingly critical components in integrating renewable energy systems. They offer optimised storage solutions that adapt to different scales and types of renewable energy installations. They are vital in applications requiring high reliability and efficiency, such as utility-scale solar and wind projects, where they help stabilise the grid and manage output variability.

Moreover, the drive towards domestic production emphasised by recent policy initiatives has strengthened the supply chain for intelligent battery components. This domestic focus not only aids in reducing logistic vulnerabilities but also supports the U.S. economy and job creation in the tech and manufacturing sectors. As more companies enter the smart battery market, competition is spurring innovation, leading to rapid advancements in battery technology that could further enhance the performance and cost-effectiveness of these systems.

Customised intelligent batteries are increasingly critical components in integrating renewable energy systems.

The customised smart battery industry is well-positioned to capitalise on the growing shift towards cleaner energy solutions. It will play a pivotal role in the green transition while continuing to evolve in response to technological advances and market demands.

Alexander Melville Chief Executive Officer Tropical Battery Company Limited

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Breaking Barriers: Female Entrepreneurs in Jamaica

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In the world of entrepreneurship, women in Jamaica face unique challenges, often finding the path to success steeper compared to their male counterparts. Despite these hurdles, numerous Jamaican women have emerged as powerful entrepreneurs, carving out niches across various industries. Their stories of resilience and innovation provide inspiration for young women aspiring to make their mark in the business world.

Patria-Kaye Aarons – Sweetie Confectionery
Patria-Kaye Aarons is the founder and CEO of Sweetie Confectionery, a company producing Jamaican-themed sweets and snacks. Aarons faced significant challenges, including skepticism from potential investors and difficulties in scaling production. Her perseverance paid off as she capitalized on the unique appeal of her products, which celebrate Jamaican culture. Aarons emphasizes the importance of staying true to one’s vision and being relentless in the pursuit of success​​.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dr. Simone French – Imara Medical Center
Dr. Simone French is a notable figure in the healthcare sector. She runs the Imara Medical Center, balancing her responsibilities as a family doctor and an entrepreneur. French introduced innovative treatments like PRP therapy for various medical conditions, showcasing her ability to blend traditional and modern medical practices. Her journey highlights the necessity of excellent time management and a commitment to continuous learning and innovation​.

Jennifer Azan – Jencare Skin Farm
Jennifer Azan is the entrepreneurial force behind Jencare Skin Farm, a renowned beauty and wellness brand in Jamaica. Azan built her business from the ground up, facing the dual challenges of market acceptance and competition. Her success is attributed to her dedication to quality and customer service, as well as her ability to adapt to changing market trends. Azan’s advice to aspiring entrepreneurs is to stay adaptable and customer-focused​.

 

 

 

Racquel Goddard – iDaedle
Racquel Goddard is a trailblazer in the IT sector with her company, iDaedle, which aims to become the Caribbean’s first home-grown Fortune 500 technology company. Goddard’s innovative idea exchange marketplace connects consumers with businesses, fostering collaboration and innovation. Her success story underscores the importance of networking and mentorship in overcoming the barriers faced by female entrepreneurs​​.

Strategies for Overcoming Challenges
These women entrepreneurs emphasize several strategies that have helped them overcome obstacles:

Resilience and Determination: Staying focused on their goals despite setbacks.
Networking and Mentorship: Leveraging connections and seeking advice from experienced professionals.
Innovation: Continuously evolving their business models and offerings to stay relevant.
Customer Focus: Prioritizing customer satisfaction and quality.

Their experiences offer valuable lessons for young women entrepreneurs: success in business requires not just a great idea, but also the determination to push through barriers and the adaptability to navigate changing environments.

The journey of Jamaican female entrepreneurs is marked by resilience, innovation, and an unwavering commitment to their visions. Their stories provide a beacon of hope and a blueprint for success, encouraging the next generation of women to break through barriers and achieve their entrepreneurial dreams.

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