1st National Bank St. Lucia Limited is the proud winner of the Service Excellence Award for 2019 and the Business of the Year Award 2019. These recent accolades make a total of 12 Saint Lucia Business Awards which the bank has won, making it the most awarded bank in Saint Lucia, according to its Managing Director Jonathan Johannes.
Johannes, in an exclusive interview with The VOICE, said the awards are a testament to what the bank has been doing over the years.
Some of the awards won by 1st National include the Service Excellence Award, the Excellence in Human Resource Development Award and the Award for Corporate Responsibility.
Johannes expressed his gratitude for the awards to the Chamber of Commerce, to the judges, and by extension, to the families of the employees of 1st National Bank, whom he said made the victories possible.
“The bank is grateful to the families of our employees because it takes a lot of sacrifice to win those awards. It takes a lot of sacrifice to try and deliver the service that we want to deliver and without the families supporting our employees, a lot of this would not have been possible. A lot of our success goes directly to the families which support the people who work for us,” he said.
The Managing Director gave his assurance that 1st National Bank will continue to strive for excellence. He said, “I just need to reassure people that we won’t stop. We will keep working hard and we don’t do it to win awards; we do it to keep our customers happy, we do it to keep our shareholders happy, and we do it to keep employees employed.”
He said the previous year was a very good year for 1st National Bank as the bank recorded growth in profits, deposits, and its lending portfolio.
Johannes said the bank was able to achieve its goals by living up to its indigenousness, which it holds dear. In that regard, the bank revamped its advertisements to add a ‘local touch’ which the Managing Director said that most Saint Lucians were proud of. One of the advertisements, featuring Dame Pearlette Louisy, highlighted the fact that 1st National Bank incorporated Saint Lucian Kwéyòl in the publication of its annual report.
“No other institution in our history has felt it necessary to capture our native language in their most important document; the annual report,” Johannes remarked. He said this was one of the components which contributed to a phenomenal year for 1st National, and one which resonated with many Saint Lucians. In addition he indicated that it was one of the reasons why the judges felt that 1st National Bank was a worthy candidate. Johannes mussed, “Thinking back at it I find myself still humbled by what we were able to achieve.”
Johannes stated that 1st National Bank was looking forward to wining an award in a more competitive field. He said that although 1st National Bank was perhaps the least technologically advanced, it was aspiring nonetheless to win another award for innovation.
“We can innovate existing things; we can breathe new life into a plain old vanilla mortgage by making it something greater than we ever thought it could be, and make it more accessible and making it more within reach of the average Saint Lucians,” he said.
This is why, he said, that 1st National Bank, for its 80th Birthday, created a 100 % finance product where eighty Saint Lucians who were desirous of earning a home, could do so without a deposit. “It was bringing innovation and innovative thinking to a product that is as old as banking,” he said.
Johannes took the opportunity to urge other businesses to participate in the Saint Lucia Business Awards. “I really think more businesses need to participate,” he said. “I guess nobody really wants to lose, -but really and truly, at an event like this there are no losers. You are there to showcase your year; you are there to showcase what you believe makes your company special.”
He reiterated, “So it’s not always about wining or losing, it’s about going out there and representing the hard work that you have put in; it gives your brand an opportunity to get noticed.”
Johannes said that he was looking forward to greater participation from the banking sector. In a jovial mood he remarked, “I want to see more participation. I’m hoping that my other indigenous bank; Bank of Saint Lucia, will see our victory and hopefully that will spark a nice sibling rivalry and that they will be entering next year. Let’s see if we can get every company in Saint Lucia to register for the Business Awards and see how that goes.”
Johannes took a moment to stress on the indispensable value of excellent customer service. He said, “Customer service is at the core of everything that we do; that is what keeps our customers coming back, and once you can get that right; once you can get the customer experience to be world-class you have the makings of a world-class business.”
He went on, “Focus on customer service and always try to be excellent in that area; identify other areas where you are not the leader and always try to become the leader in your own right.”
He said there was a lot more to come from 1st National Bank. In closing, he remarked, “I think we’re going to really have an exciting year next year. We’re looking at something in the mobile banking space. We have a few big initiatives in the pipeline and we’re really excited about what 2020 has in store for us and for our customers.”