Observation: Banking In Antigua Is Killing Business

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Banking In Antigua Is Killing Business

Here is a true story about the two local banks in Antigua.

A client at ECAB who has been with the bank from the day the bank opened and  owned by a local man, then throughout the Stanford ownership, and now as Eastern Caribbean Amalgamated Bank.

Operating a small business account in both EC & US Dollars the client had one U.S. client for more than 25 years which kept the U.S. account open, transferring the small amount to the EC operating account each month for all those years.

Suddenly the bank started to deposit the U.S. Transfer into the EC account causing the U.S. account to be closed to lack of activity. When discovered and attempts made to correct the situation the bank refused to take responsibility and further returned two transfers sent from the U.S. The client then tried to have their U.S. account restored as it was the bank’s error (?) to no avail, their bank-for-life ECAB continued to fail them.

The client them contracted its sister company to manage the U.S. account on behalf of the smaller company and had their U.S. Client reformat bank transfers to the company’s other local Bank, ACB. This other local bank ACB, failed to communicate on receipt of the transfer, and also twice sent the transfer back to the U.S. without communicating with the local client.  Two local banks sending back money without even trying to communicate with their client. This is the failure of small island penny banks when they have grown into handling millions of dollars, and when their officers have lost their willingness to serve. Five months stringing out their local business with attitude.

The Customer Service of local banks is very, very local, in that the cultural contempt which small islanders have for each other comes to the surface, even as their politics which is worn on their sleeves. Making the cultural shift to offering international banking services after 55 years in operation, suggests that the cultural contempt for each other, grown on the plantations, is too great to overcome without international exposure.

We have seen the Canadian banks when operating in Antigua produce professional bankers with confidential Managers & Supervisors, trained in Know Your Customer (KYC). These persons are of the same background as our current crop of bank officers operating in our indigenous banks, they receive the same education and training, and the only difference is the ultimate management (white) whose wrath they dared not provoke.

The regulatory pressure put on the Caribbean has more to do with the new investors who are attracted to our Criminal Investment Program (CIP) and the on-the-edge business trends which leaders of our region tend attract. There is no good reason why small business and local people are now bearing the brunt of the banking failure of our local banks and their inadequacies. Clearly we had no choice but to try to buy out the Canadian banks, but it may have been a better option to bring in Republic or some additional bank to pick up the slack from exiting Canada.

Whether we like it or not, the local banks just cannot hack it, and to quote the vibe of the Prime Minister, ‘dem just don’t care how dem talk to people’ and worse they don’t care period about locals.

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19 COMMENTS

  1. this letter was going somewhere but then seemed to turn racist and suggest we need white people to manage us.

    • The writer never suggested that we needed to be managed by white ppl. When white ppl were in charge, the local managers cared for local customers. Now locals are in charge, dem na kay bout arwe.
      The writer is simply saying that the “kicking down the ladder” syndrome must stop.

  2. Foreign Banks are for the most part white and do not allow anybody black, white, yellow or brown mess with their money. Clearly that is true, and was most visible during the Canadian bank era! After all it is their money!

    • You are so damn wrong in saying that the money in the bank is theirs. The depositors are the ones that own the money. That is why the PM was able to threaten them if they did not sell the bank to locals. All the foreign banks do is put up a promissory note to the ECCB. Then they go to work by attracting deposits and from that money issue loans. So simply put, they work with our money. And make money with our money.

    • @I Don’t Know My Name – I’ve said it before, if Antiguan banks want to connect with american banks, all they have to do is get the connection going through Hunter Biden.

      The problem with Antiguan banks is that they’re not crooked enough to run with their american counterparts

  3. Can you imagine being charge to made a withdrawal over $5000.00. You can’t even withdraw your own money now from your saving account.

  4. Some times i wonder if we need white people in these positions because the problems im having with ACB now i never had with my intetnational bank which is Royal bank….. ACB sick me tummick

    • … let me join you by saying……………. ACB SICK ME TUMMUC TOOOO…. and let me pause the folks that luv to say if the bank nar work for u take ur business elsewhere… well folks all the damm banks in antigua right now is the same …. u just cant get nothing done right, on time , professional.. everything late … they cant answer no questions… cant deal with overseas business properly … its just frustrating as hell …. me just a talk fu my experience … how can u have wire transfer coming into your account and you forget to post it to the person account after the person reported it to u … that mec sense .. and then u tell the person u cant find what u talking about and then later to find out it was the banks error … and they no k its like what ur going to do about it… chuuppsppssss

  5. It has nothing to do with racism (I hope). Local banking officials fist-bumping their friends and not doing their work. WEEKS of calls to bank officials who don’t answer phones and avoid work. Rejection of new accounts, over formality (do you know how long it takes to open a new account in North America – minutes / Antigua – months). Documents signed and resigned, addressed and readdressed, completely stupid. I understand about being cautious regarding multi million dollar foreign accounts (anyway honestly people YOU NEED THE MONEY) but stifling smaller accounts (under $100k) is really stupid.

    . . . keep it up and the Antiguan people will starve. In a modern world every country needs foreign money. I am incredibly disappointed with what I have seen and i have taken all my money out of Antigua. I wanted to participate in the economy and be part of the solution.

  6. Just shifting off topic for a moment. Having to wait endless hours in CIBC, I had time to look at the bank related pictures on the walls. Not one dark skinned person. Not one nappy hair black female. Mixed race – curly hair and fair skinned is the new black now. Brixtonian, can you address this for me please.

    • I hear you @ Caribbean Lady, I equate this to the awful vacation and holiday advertising campaigns that continually ignores people of colour like we don’t travel and spend big money as well.

      I for one, when travelling, I love to get out and about and spend money in small businesses, to not only help the economy, but also to benefit the locals citizens as well – that’s how I roll!

      I try not to lock myself away in all inclusive hotels.

      Enjoy your day … 👍

  7. He said nothing wrong. I rather when we had international banks with international standards. You can hate white or what he is suggesting but look at the kind of knock bout we are experiencing…especially during Covid-19 when many had to get it right….our local banks got worst.

  8. I join u in detesting ACB with a passion. I’ve been an RBTT to RBC to ACB customer, and I can say that this ACB chapter is a nightmare. I would move my money to a credit union tomorrow, but I need facilities to wire foreign currency. ACB makes us feel like they’re doing us a favour to provide us with poor service while they screw us with criminal fees that amount to usury.

    The more troubling matter is that the government seems to be party to the rape. Government has sat idly by while these banks literally rob poor people. The government is every bit as guilty as the banks themselves

  9. Gaston Browne loves the banks. Or at least the ones that provide him with people’s personal banking information. He once posted the image of bounced check to shame someone. The check had the red ink and bank notation on the back, demonstrating that it had already been processed by the bank. If bank employees are willing to breach privacy laws to provide the PM with clients’ banking information, we shouldn’t expect any respect from these bank employees.

  10. The Compliance Departments are now empowered… Finally, back office is calling the shots so they more powerful now (or so they think) than even the Managers and Directors.. And they are relishing in the power! the ability to approve or deny someone gives them an adrenaline rush of importance and significance and meaning to their lives! Some of them don’t even understand the very rules they are guided by and even make up as they go. They never run a business or engage in commerce or work the front line to understand what is required to build a business. BANKING IN ANTIGUA SUCKS!!!!. They put everything on the correspondent banks but it is easier to do business with the very correspondent banks directly them these local banks!!! Chewpitniss!!!!.

  11. Wow! The problem is not with the local banks. The problem is with the western colonizers who set the rules that make it difficult to move funds internationally. It is one of the reason why the canadians banks pull out in the first place. The americans and the european union who you people think are the good guys are the ones that set the rules that make banking so difficult. Thank god for digital currency.

    • @Wadad20
      You are correct, but that is part of the problem.
      I have said it before, the bank managers lack customer service. If they cared about their customers, they would do something about the service. But it’s neither here nor there for them. They are not evaluated based on their customer’s satisfaction. And since slowly but surely there isn’t any competition, they feel like gods in their own little empire. How can they see the long lines of customers in the hot sun, old and young and not have any compassion. Why should I stand in a line or even at a drive thru teller for over one hour to do a five-minute banking. And these days one doesn’t even see the bank manager. They are locked up in their a/c offices and only come out when they have to go for lunch. And these managers have a board to answer to. So, the question is, where is the board in this? is the board not aware of the bad reputation that the banks are getting? Are the board members not concerned about this as well? The problem really started with the implementation of the Covid 19 protocols. That allowed the banks to keep their customers as much as possible outside the bank. They had the best excuse ever. And I understand they are still using that excuse, that Covid is not over and therefore they will not let customers in by drones. And some branches are completely closed to the public, only on appointments. I guess perhaps the government should officially declare the Coviod 19 protocols over. Then they do not have a reason to close the branch or let customers in one by one. The local banks do not work in the interest of their customers. Whether you have $1.00 or $1million in the bank it doesn’t matter to them. You will get no financial advice from them. That is outside their portfolio. The GM’s seem not to be responsible for bringing new clients or new loans to the bank. The government has housing projects, but none of them are jumping on the bandwagon to see how they can benefit from them. Not one potential homeowner is contacted by the bank’s loan officers to see if they can get the loans. It’s like you have to beg them for a loan. And they don’t care if you come to them or go to another bank. The most they do is put some ads in the newspaper or on their website. When I was a financial advisor, I was like a salesman going after my clients. Extremely focused and determined. Because the commission was your pay. And we have seen that in the USA with the subprime market. But ECCB is now putting in place a credit rating bureau. I’m not going to get into details cause that will disclose who I’m. But I worked for Morgan Stanley in their Memphis Office. And getting people to invest and make their money work for them is big business. Of course, there is risk in everything we do. But one should always balance the risk. I feel sorry for those who lost their monies in the collapse of the markets, and the CLICO debacle. Not to mention the collapse of the Stanford Group. A financial advisor gives you advice, and you make the decision. So don’t blame them.
      Bank to the bank managers. They should get up from their derriere and start having respect for their customers. No matter how small. Ultimately, it is the customer that pays your salary by having their money in your bank. It’s not your money. It’s theirs.

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