Page 47

Secondly I see Dr Charmaine Gardner, the Managing Director of Carasco & Son and president of 1st National Bank, as another phenomenal leader who I have always admired for her ability to effortlessly, confidently and competently transition between boardroom to entrepreneur, to advisor, to retail sales lady, to historian, educator, mother, mentor etc. She has made and continues to make strides in so many diverse professional avenues and she is still able to find time for major involvement is community service, charitable organizations, women issues, her church and very importantly family. She is always very modest about her achievements despite the many accolades that continues to be conferred on her. On the regional front, I definitely admire Sharon Christopher, our Deputy CEO (DCEO), another phenomenal leader and a true inspiration to listen to and to talk to. She too exudes confidence and strong charisma. Despite the pressures of her role as DCEO and her many other professional commitments on Boards, committee and other such engagements she always seems to be able to make time to reach out to staff and shows genuine care and concern for people. She is a great motivator who maintains very professional, high ethical standards but is equally empathetic and approachable. From a company perspective as well as a wider region perspective she is also very well respected and admired. Her genuine love and commitment to First Citizens is also extremely commendable. Q: What are the future prospects of First Citizens Investment Services? CEJM: Certainly I still see room for growth and expansion and I would love to expand the First Citizens footprint in St Lucia as well as the wider Eastern Caribbean. I would like to see us broaden the products that we offer. I also see room for more corporate bonds in the market and for greater use of equity funding. Basically, I would like to see more private companies making public share offerings and listing on the stock exchange, thus offering additional investment prospects and avenues for investing.

have us top of mind and we have clearly carved out a niche for ourselves which has enabled us to command a stable and loyal customer base. Q: How have your life experiences made you the leader you are today? CEJM: I started off in management at a pretty young age and I must say I learnt a lot from the men who were largely the managers and CEOs in positions during that time. I have had to learn from my mistakes and I have had to learn a lot of things on the job and on my own, hence I developed a keen eye and attention for details. Fortunately I feel I was blessed to have worked with few really good male leaders who were very comfortable allowing me to make decisions and take responsibility for my staff and department. These experiences I believe helped shaped the person I am today in many ways and though I had not thought of it this way before I now see that perhaps this is where my drive for financial results and accountability is coming from as well as the total commitment to whatever job I undertake. Largely my life and job experiences have been positive and much of this has been because of the confidences that was placed in me which fuelled my drive to succeed and passion for hard work and excellence. I guess that it is in this vein that I am always trying to push people to achieve their fullest potential though sometimes I think I see prospects in people that they just do not see in themselves and this can be really disappointing for me. Q: How have your previous employment experiences aided your work? CEJM: My background is in banking, accounting and auditing and what I do at First Citizens is really a hybrid combination of all of these. On a daily basis I assume various roles thus multi-tasking as well as juggling and prioritization of tasks is a regular feature on my duties schedule but I love what I do and wholeheartedly embrace these opportunities as experience and not just work.

Q: Would you say First Citizens is committed to compliance?

Q: Highlights and challenges?

CEJM: This is an understatement. Given the industry in which we operate and our fiduciary and other stakeholder responsibilities, strong compliance policies and procedures are paramount. In fact the survival of the Group's correspondent banking relationships as well as conformity with regulatory and other legislative requirements mandates that we maintain such in order to continue operations. In First Citizens, issues of compliance are dealt with at the highest level and the importance of adherence is appreciated throughout the organization.

CEJM: A definite highlight for me was when we won the Service Excellence Awards in 2013 and 2014. Our achievement of over half a billion in Funds Under Management was a definite proud moment. On a whole our client penetration and expansion in the region, especially opening the Saint Vincent office was another highlight. It goes without saying that the value and volume of the government bonds and T-Bills that we have brokered and continue to preside over every month is another indisputable achievement. I am also really proud of First Citizens being positioned as the clear leaders in the repos (repurchase agreement) and capital market business.

Q: Would you say First Citizens Investment Services St. Lucia has achieved its goal of becoming the most competitive financial services group? CEJM: Yes, definitely. We have maintained a team of go-getters. When we started off ten years ago, we referred to ourselves as a little company that dared to dream big and that dream continues for us. Today we are considered by many, as the leaders in the capital market industry. We continue to offer our clients rates that are very competitive and better than is available in the banking sector and our staff team continue to deploy innovative and flexible approaches to business. The average investor does

As far as our challenges are concerned, I think one of our biggest challenges has been earning investor confidence and educating people so they are able to reach a comfort level and confident understanding of the investment products and opportunities we offer. Another challenge which stems from our work with regional governments has been gaining the respect of these governments such that they agree with our recommendations as it pertains to debt through bonds and treasury bills and the monitoring of ratios such as debt to GDP in order to retain customer confidences and increase demand for Government debt. BusinessFocus July / Aug



St. Lucia Business Focus 82  

Our special feature in this issue is the 10th Anniversary of First Citizens Investment Services Ltd. which has grown into a regional powerho...

St. Lucia Business Focus 82  

Our special feature in this issue is the 10th Anniversary of First Citizens Investment Services Ltd. which has grown into a regional powerho...