By Alison Lowe
Nassau Guardian Business Editor
NASSAU, Bahamas -- Scotiabank has confirmed plans to move certain functions from The Bahamas to Trinidad and Tobago, as it moves to “centralise” within the Caribbean in order to enhance the “efficiency and effectiveness” of its operations.
Meetings were held on Thursday with potentially impacted local staff. It is still unclear whether job losses will result. The bank has pledged to assist affected staff in potentially moving into other areas of the bank, and to offer voluntary separation packages.
According to a statement released to the Nassau Guardian following inquiries about potential downsizing plans, the Canadian bank plans to relocate certain operations functions currently located in The Bahamas to its Caribbean South Hub, based in Trinidad and Tobago.
This follows similar moves throughout Scotiabank’s Caribbean operations, said the bank, which operates “shared services hubs” in Jamaica, Trinidad and Tobago and the Dominican Republic, where it already centralizes some of the functions of its operations in 55 countries globally.
“We are supporting our employees through this transition and we are looking at all options to manage the impact on them. As part of this move, the bank will continue its practice of hiring from within where possible, will be providing training to prepare them to take on possible new roles within the bank, and will also be offering affected employees the option to apply for a voluntary separation package.
“These decisions are never taken lightly. We have taken time to consider these changes in a careful way, being sensitive to the impact on our employees.
“Scotiabank has been in The Bahamas for almost 60 years and we remain committed to being a part of this community,” said the statement.
Confirmation of the centralization plans comes after Guardian Business received anxious phone calls from staff who said they were told that employees in the collections and processing support department could be affected by as-yet-unannounced downsizing plans.
The bank is the second in four months to announce plans to reduce or reassign staff.
CIBC FirstCaribbean International Bank is currently in the process of a downsizing exercise, in which it has offered local staff the opportunity to take voluntary separation packages, and based on the uptake of these, would determine how many redundancies might be necessary.
Following losses of $27 million regionally, CIBC FirstCaribbean CEO Rik Parkhill recently stated that it is seeking to cut back regional employee-related costs by 10 percent, but it has not yet been made clear what proportion of these would take place in The Bahamas.
At the time that CIBC FirstCaribbean announced its plans to downsize, speculation was ongoing about the possibility of cutbacks at Scotiabank. However, in an interview with Guardian Business in September 2013, then-managing director of Scotiabank Kevin Teslyk promised that the bank “has no layoffs planned.”
While confirming the intention to bring the other 50 percent of its branches into a system which sees customer service handled out of a Caribbean call center, Teslyk said Scotiabank “won’t be adding to unemployment in this country”.
“We’ll be finding new ways to employ our people as we adapt to the marketplace and to our customers’ needs,” said Teslyk, who added that the decision on Scotiabank’s part was being driven by a desire to bring consistency to the customer experience, rather than to achieve cost-cutting.
Teslyk was replaced by Sean Albert as managing director in December 2013.
Republished with permission of the Nassau Guardian