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Courtney Campbell to head VMBS, GK brings in private equity dealmaker to run its bank

Published:Friday | January 15, 2016 | 1:00 AMCamilo Thame
Mariame McIntosh Robinson tapped to run GraceKennedy's First Global subsidiairy.
Courtney Campbell ... hired as president of VMBS.
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Courtney Campbell is heading to Victoria Mutual Group (VMBS) as its new president.

He steps down as CEO of GraceKennedy Financial Services and First Global Bank (FGB) on January 31 and steps in to replace Richard Powell, who is retiring from Victoria Mutual, on April 18.

"Mr Campbell's breadth of experience and track record perfectly suit our needs as we continue our growth as a diverse financial group with businesses in savings and mortgages, real estate services, wealth management, pension fund management and money transfer services" said the building society's chairman, Michael McMorris.

Indeed, Campbell faces a gargantuan task in light of the building society's declining market share. VMBS, which was comparable in size in terms of its loan portfolio and savings fund with Jamaica National Building Society in 2000, has failed to keep up with its main competitor.

By 2005, the mortgage lender's loans and advances stood at 80 per cent of JN's portfolio. As at September 30, 2015, it was equivalent to just under 60 per cent of its main rivals outstanding loan balance, which totalled $58 billion.

Similarly, VMBS's savings fund, which was almost as much as JN's 10 years ago, was 30 per cent smaller than JN's $90 billion in customer deposits.

Now, JN is transitioning into a full commercial bank.

At GraceKennedy, the conglomerate has brought in Portland Private Equity partner Mariame Robinson to head FGB, with Paula Robertson-Barclay, who headed the bank's credit risk department, being promoted to general manager.

"My first focus will be on low hanging fruit to make the bank more efficient," Robinson told the Financial Gleaner. "After that, we will look for areas of inorganic growth."

At Portland, her focus has been on deals.

I love doing deals and will bring that to First Global when the time is right," she added. "But right now I am excited to be in the hot seat and to do general management."

She, too, has a sizeable task. FGB has held the position as the fifth-largest bank, in terms of assets, in Jamaica for over a decade and will soon fall one spot when JN transitions into a commercial bank.

But more fundamentally, the bank's return on equity fell from over 17 per cent in 2005 to under five per cent in 2014; seven per cent of its $18-billion loan book as at the end of 2014 was non-performing; and its operating expense as a proportion of gross revenue rose from 17 per cent to two-thirds over the past decade.

Additionally, its non-interest income stream fell from 36 per cent of total revenue to 14 per cent by 2010 before climbing back to 24 per cent in 2014.

In other senior management changes at GraceKennedy, Grace Burnett, who currently heads GK General Insurance, will assume the role of CEO of GraceKennedy Financial Group, but Robinson will report directly to GraceKennedy's CEO Don Wehby.

Steven Whittingham also gets a new appointment chief investment officer for the group with responsibility for devising and executing strategy across GK's businesses, and identifying and leading key investment opportunities. He will also continue to lead GK Capital Management Limited as its CEO.

"I have every confidence that these changes will strengthen the leadership team and allow the company to achieve our goal of becoming a global consumer group and a significant player in the regional financial sector," said Wehby in a statement issued Thursday.

camilo.thame@gleanerjm.com