By Lindsey Turnbull
As from this Monday, 1 August, Fidelity Bank will undertake a rebranding and name change to PROVEN Bank. Its CEO, Ben Freeman, talked with the Caymanian Times about what this change will mean for banking customers.
Fidelity’s rebrand to PROVEN Bank will involve a restructuring built around focussing on the customer, its CEO Ben Freeman explained. Based upon his discussions with existing customers, that was an area they thought they could compete very strongly with other organisations. New products would also be an enticement for customers, including fixed term mortgages for a longer term on their loans.
Mr Freeman felt customers would enjoy a whole host of benefits from the restructuring, including technical benefits with the introduction of a brand new banking system, an online platform and automating a lot of the practices being undertaken today, for example, allowing customers to fill out forms online to do their applications.
The physical locations would also be changing.
“The Fidelity Financial Centre will no longer be serving our consumer customers,” he advised. “We had a low traffic in that branch: there were about 50 customers a day supporting that branch which is about one customer every 10 minutes and we had five staff in there. So, we’ve said that branch will be our private and corporate banking office.”
Consumer customers can use their Dr Roy’s Drive branch in George Town. At Dr Roy’s, they have expanded the number of tellers and they are extending their Friday hours starting the week of the 8 August. Non-functioning ATMs will be fixed.
“We believe we can serve our consumer customers our of Dr Roy’s very well,” he advised. “We have no plans for further locations; we are investing in technology. We believe customers can be served more conveniently by going online, our banking app, and going on our website. We want customers to be able to do more things before they come into our branch.”
Mr Freeman said their investments would be in digitising the business for customer convenience rather than expanding their bricks and mortar locations.
Dealing with the current economic climate will be a top priority for the bank. They would not be changing any credit standards in this current high inflation economy, and their banking operations would still focus on due diligence on customers to make sure debt service rations for customers were healthy, so they could make sure they can repay their loans.
“It’s good for our bank and good for our customers,” he stated.
Help will be at hand for customers finding themselves in financial difficulties, however.
“We actively engage with customers who are having challenges, have them come into the bank and we will work with them to find solutions, he said.
“It is a challenging time: inflation is hitting everybody basically across the world. We’re going to be cognisant of that with our customers and that’s the good thing about the organisation here: we’re local; we understand the local context; we understand our customers and therefore we can work with them closely to ease some of the pain they feel,” Mr Freeman confirmed.
The restructuring has seen the bank create a sales and customer-centric team, whereby they moved all activities from the retail branches - their customer-facing account management team and their sales team - all under one lead.
This renewed focus has already reaped impressive rewards, Mr Freeman said.
“Based on that, we’re already seeing tremendous results. Since April we’ve seen a 10% growth in our personal loan portfolio. Since June we’ve seen an 8% growth in our mortgage portfolio,” he advised. “Our pipeline has doubled from about $30m to 60m in just three months and that is due to the focus and the customer-centricity that we’re bringing to the business right now.”
The bank has also focussed on its competition.
“What we’re seeing is that our interest rates are at par or lower than the competition. Our fixed deposit rates are higher than the competition. Our customer service levels on a personal basis are better than the competition,” he said.
In the past, having been owned by Fidelity in the Bahamas, the focus had not been so much on Cayman customers. PROVEN, as a Jamaican-based organisation, is bringing a huge amount of investment along with a local focus that will be hard to beat.
“Some of the activities were done our of the Bahamas, such as marketing, HR, the banking system and the credit card system. Those will all be transferred to Cayman or a central service centre that PROVEN is focussed on building in order to bring first world services to the bank,” Mr Freeman said.
Day-to-day management and decisions will take place locally, so they have the best of both worlds, enabling serious growth for the organisation.
“The staff is very excited about the change,” he confirmed. “I think they see this growth already happening in the business. We are up for the challenge for being the best bank in Cayman. I want us to be one of, or the biggest, bank in Cayman over the next three to five years. We are moving full steam ahead with that ambition. We are going to do it as a team, with Cayman people leading the charge for us.”