By Voice Reporter
1st National Bank hosted its first-ever Shareholder Engagement Forum on Saturday June 30th at the Finance Administrative Centre, Pointe Seraphine, Castries — and the one underlying feedback from participants was that it was a success.
The forum, which got under way with prayers by shareholder Quentin Richards and welcome and opening remarks by Chairman of the Board of Directors, Nigel Fulgence, also afforded shareholders an opportunity to interact with the respective managers.
The four-hour meeting featured, in the main, a forum for shareholders to express how they feel about their investment and have a direct say in policy formulation.
The event was also organized to give shareholders a sense and feeling of empowerment – and from the feedback of participants and organizers alike, that was a mission accomplished.
According to Robert Harvey, one of the scores of shareholders who attended and participated in the Saturday morning event, this is a new initiative that fellow shareholders also welcomed.
According to Shareholder Robert Harvey “There is the annual meeting of shareholders, as well as the Stanley French Shareholder Education Forum, whereby information is presented and discussed with shareholders on various financial topics relevant to the business environment.
“However, this new initiative was all about the shareholders being part of the decision-making process in terms of the direction of the Bank.
“We were given a unique opportunity to participate in a forum with the Board of Directors, the Managing Director and the Management Team, who actively listened to us.
“I felt proud to be a shareholder of 1st National Bank and a participant in these consultations.”
Harvey seemed to be speaking for most, if not all who attended, including those who didn’t take the floor.
Other attendees sad they appreciated the opportunity to be consulted and heard, listened to and made to feel proud of their decision to have purchased shares.
From the reports, not all was Hunky Dory. Some shareholders also took the opportunity to exercise their right to raise issues from their personal experiences dealing with their bank, which were also immediately addressed by the relevant officials.
Lukie Albert, a Soufriere-based shareholder, said she too embraced the opportunity to make personal interventions to push her bank forward.
She said, “It was a very productive forum. It’s the first time shareholders had a one-on-one with the director and senior management to discuss and make recommendations for the bank’s better future.
Ms Albert said she “called or the bank to do more and better business in Soufriere”, noting that “In the town today you have all types of business — from small businesses and start-ups to high-end, top-market – but on weeknds it’s a problem to get access to Foreign Exchange. I therefore recommended a Bureau de Change be established in Soufriere.”
Shareholders did take positive advantage of this welcome first initiative, which the bank’s president says will continue.
Chairman Fulgence says the bank feels justified in having decided to engage shareholders by way of the forum. He says, “After all, it is their investment and our bank, so what better way to chart the course going forward but to engage and listen to the views, opinions, ideas and suggestions directly from the owners of the bank?
“As an investor, you want to see your investment grow and at the same time you want to know that the customers utilizing the services of the bank are receiving excellent service and value for money.”
Managing Director Johnathan Johannes applauded the shareholders “for their presence and for making the initiative a very productive and worthwhile experience, given the sacrifice that one may have had to make to give up their Saturday – and especially at month-end.”
Johannes reiterated his commitment and that of his team “to work diligently towards incorporating some of the suggestions made by the shareholders in the alignment of the bank’s strategy.”
Robert Fevrier, Marketing and PR Executive for 1st National Bank says, “It was such a wonderful experience.”
According to Fevrier, “We heard from the shareholders first-hand — and more importantly, we listened intently and took notes as they made their contribution to the forum.
“Their input and participation were amazingly constructive and added immense value to the forum”.
The Marketing and PR Executive says the Managing Director is also quite pleased with the entire undertaking “and he is proud of the way the shareholders responded to an initiative aimed at empowering them through a process of inclusion and consultation.”
Fevrier recalled his Managing Director’s final words when bringing this Shareholder Engagement forum to a close, “when he stated and emphasized that that all stakeholders must share in the process if we need to improve and propel St. Lucia’s first indigenous bank “From Good to Great!”
That process too is already under way. Albert’s final words were: “We asked questions and got answers. I felt empowered. Big-up, 1st National!”