Some of the most venerable institutions among this region of island nations are thriving in spite of the Covid-19 crisis.
Methodology: Behind the Rankings
Global Finance staff select winners for these awards based on entries submitted by banks, company documents and public filings. No proprietary information was sought or shared in the awards process. We consider local market knowledge, global footprint and investment breadth and sophistication. Because metrics are rarely public in this sensitive corner of finance, we incorporate perspective from analysts and consultants. Performance data are also drawn from industry sources including Scorpio Partnership’s annual Global Private Banking Benchmark and Asian Private Banker magazine’s regional league tables. Size and growth are a factor, but Global Finance also considered creativity, uniqueness of offering and dedication to private banking as a core business either globally or regionally.
BEST PRIVATE BANK FOR BUSINESS OWNERS
NATIONAL COMMERCIAL BANK JAMAICA
The Caribbean islands, a paradise for private banking, were deeply impacted by the Covid-19 pandemic and the consequent economic crisis; but the capacity of those institutions to manage their richest clients’ assets suffered very little.
The 170-year-old National Commercial Bank Jamaica (NCBJ) maintained its position as one of the most profitable groups in the region and the largest Jamaican financial organization overall. Outside its headquarters in Kingston, the bank has a robust presence in Barbados, the Cayman Islands and Trinidad and Tobago, particularly in private banking.
NCBJ provides tailored portfolios for wealthy clients along with a range of other offerings, including custodial and brokerage services, real estate planning, advice on philanthropy, retirement planning and daily management of regulatory and legal risks. It gives special attention to providing complex loans for investment, making NCBJ a notable financial partner for foreign investors and companies headquartered in the region.
Even before the pandemic struck, NCBJ was prioritizing investment in technology and innovation, allowing it to maintain close links with its wealthy clients after Covid-19 upended daily and working life. The bank had already upgraded its digital banking platform as part of a 17-year plan to build new technological architecture; and it had created 10 innovation labs that develop new tools to improve its connection with other sectors of the market, such as education.
“Technology is a key investment to make us more competitive and efficient,” says CEO Septimus Blake. “We need this infrastructure to connect the value chains, both domestic and abroad. The new normal is going to be digital.”
BEST PRIVATE BANK FOR ENTREPRENEURS
One of the largest Caribbean investment banks, with $118 billion in assets under management, Butterfield Bank has raised its income by $5.2 billion and increased average return for its wealthy clients by 1% over the previous 12 months. A 162-year-old Bermuda institution, it is also present in the Bahamas and the Cayman Islands. It provided private banking services for over 150 years.
Asset management services are the core of Butterfield’s private banking unit, which caters to entrepreneurs, corporate executives, medical professionals and other affluent clients. In a period of worldwide low interest rates, it is offering clients a larger range of real estate investments, including a proprietary asset management service. Butterfield’s private bankers work closely with the bank’s in-house asset managers to customize clients’ investment portfolio according to their objectives and risk tolerance. It also offers access to the bank’s full-service and self-directed commission-based brokerage capabilities.
Trust services are a complimentary feature for wealthy clients, for protection and intergenerational transfer of wealth. Butterfield’s clients in Bermuda and the Cayman Islands get flexible financing and direct access to the London property market through the bank’s UK subsidiary.
EXCELLENCE IN CRISIS: CLIENT SERVICES
Present in 17 countries and territories across the Caribbean, Royal Bank of Canada (RBC) has over 1 million clients in the region and is positioned as an elite wealth management provider for families and corporations, including multinationals. From its regional headquarters in Trinidad, RBC provides a wide array of investments through tax-efficient vehicles and pension plans. It also offers alternative services focusing on real estate, commercial opportunities and customized borrowing solutions.
Wealth succession strategy and advice on philanthropy have become especially notable RBC offerings since the Covid-19 pandemic hit. The bank has emphasized its deep connection to the people of the Caribbean with support and donations to hard-hit local communities.
“Across the region, we are seeing how NGOs and other organizations are stepping up to provide for those in need during these uncertain times,” said Rob Johnston, head of Caribbean banking, in a statement last April announcing a $330,000 donation to support food security. “We are proud to stand with these groups and to help support them in their vital work.”