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Bruce Bowen Takes Over As Scotiabank Chief

International Banking Institution To Expand Local Retail Business, Strengthen Its Mainstay Commercial And Corporate Areas


February 26, 2004
Copyright © 2004 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

It has been nearly 90 years since Scotiabank of Canada, perhaps in a tribute to its origins in the fishing trade, opened its first local branch in Fajardo. Today, Scotiabank still sees Puerto Rico as a market with a lot of opportunities for expansion.

With a game plan in hand and 14 years’ experience in international banking, Bruce Bowen, the new president & CEO of Scotiabank in Puerto Rico, will renew efforts to increase the institution’s share of the local market. He plans to improve the mainstay corporate and commercial business areas and to implement a strategy to capture a significant portion of the island’s retail sector.

"We want to build solid relationships with a range of products that will allow us to meet our goals locally," said Bowen. One of those products is automobile loans; Scotiabank currently controls about 15% of the automobile loans by banks and their subsidiaries in Puerto Rico.

Over the past three years, Scotiabank has been working to create the infrastructure needed to support the development of its retail banking business in Puerto Rico. It has opened five new branches, bringing the total to 16; reorganized and rebranded existing branches; made changes to the operating systems; expanded the ATM network; and set up a telephone-banking center.

The local market can expect to see a flurry of retail banking activity from Scotiabank over the next two years. Three new Scotiabank branches will open by the end of this year, with an additional five scheduled for 2005-2006. The institution envisions a total of 30 branches located strategically throughout Puerto Rico.

Scotiabank’s branch-network expansion continues as well in other key markets in the region, including Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, and El Salvador.

In 2004, Scotiabank also plans to launch its Internet banking platform and its front-end customer information system in Puerto Rico. An expanded mortgage program will complement this effort. "We will do what we do best to accomplish our plan, which is to think in terms of critical mass and pursue great relationships with our customers," said Bowen.

Scotiabank’s strength as a global bank should enable it to continue growing the corporate and commercial areas. It has specialists all over the world who can bring their expertise to bear in favor of the local franchise.

"Having access to world-class corporate, commercial, and retail banking experts allows us to develop our potential and continue positioning Scotiabank Puerto Rico as the leading institution in service and quality," said Bowen.

In the short term, Scotiabank aims to upgrade the cash-management and check-statement-processing technology and introduce an Internet-based trade finance platform. Additional resources and capabilities can also be expected in project finance derivatives and treasury products.

Bowen projects a growth rate of 15% to 20% for all of Scotiabank’s businesses. Already, Scotiabank Puerto Rico’s regional group is the Caribbean’s largest provider of financing to the hospitality industry.

Bowen is determined to set the pace for quarterly net income of $15 million to $20 million. Aware of the market’s evolving, sophisticated demands, he realizes Scotiabank will have to develop new banking offers to compete, such as wealth management and insurance products.

In Puerto Rico, as in the rest of the world, Scotiabank will continue emphasizing its sales and service culture to deepen customer relationships. Scotiabank was selected the best bank for customer service in Canada for four years and the best bank in Mexico, the Dominican Republic, Jamaica, and the Caribbean.

The Scotiabank Group has assets of CDN$286 billion (approximately US$214 billion), 2003 net income of CDN$2.4 billion (approximately US$1.8 billion), and more than 10 million customers in some 50 countries.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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