Tue | Jan 26, 2021

Tugwell Henry next in line as boss of Scotia Group - Schnoor given new posting, seat on Ja’s board

Published:Friday | October 16, 2020 | 12:15 AMKarena Bennett - Business Reporter
Audrey Tugwell-Henry, CEO-designate of Scotia Group Jamaica.
Audrey Tugwell-Henry, CEO-designate of Scotia Group Jamaica.
Anya Schnoor, appointed to Scotia Group Jamaica board effective November 1, 2020.
File Anya Schnoor, appointed to Scotia Group Jamaica board effective November 1, 2020.

For a second time in more than a century of operation, Jamaica’s second most powerful bank is to be led by a woman.

Audrey Tugwell Henry will assume the role of president and CEO of Scotia Group Jamaica on January 1, 2021, and with it the responsibility to pilot the bank through the pandemic.

She replaces David Noel, who is headed to Canada for a job within the parent operation Scotiabank International as head of the Atlantic region. He had replaced the first female head of Scotia Group, Jacqueline Sharp, back in November 2017. Sharp led the bank for four years before leaving to work alongside her husband in their coffee business.

A seasoned executive with over 30 years of financial services experience in Jamaica, Tugwell Henry has been in charge of retail banking at Scotiabank for three years.

She inherits a bank that makes steady profit but trails its chief rival, both in earnings and size. With $556 billion in assets on its books up to the third quarter of this year, Scotia Group is now just one-third the size of NCB Financial Group, although at one point it was the dominant commercial bank in Jamaica.

Over the years, Scotia Group has chosen to rely on organic means for growth, that is, innovations, new products and services – sources have said over time that it was the policy preference of its Canadian parent company, which has constrained the bank’s options – whereas NCB Financial has chosen M&A, or acqusitions, a strategy that has pushed its current value to $1.6 trillion in assets.

Tugwell Henry would have personal insights into NCB, its culture, and the man who runs it, having worked alongside him in the past. Her track record includes both banks.

She was the head of retail banking for eight years at Scotiabank, then left in 2008 to work with NCB in a similar role. Scotia Group persuaded her to return in September 2017, as executive vice-president of retail banking, Caribbean North & Central.

Her promotion to the top job in Jamaica was absent the usual market chatter. Typically, speculation around successions at Scotiabank tends to align with secondments to Canada or other regional postings for prospective candidates in what the market perceives as part of their grooming for leadership. No such movement happened with Tugwell Henry.

Board appointment

Of interest is that Anya Schnoor, who at one time was expected to head up Scotia Group Jamaica but was instead made the boss of Scotiabank Trinidad & Tobago for a time, has been given a seat on the Jamaican banking conglomerate’s board. Schnoor takes up a vacancy created by the retirement of Brendan King, but Scotia Group was still to comment up to press time on whether her admittance to the board had any implications for Jamaica beyond that.

Schnoor, who is Jamaican with 28 years of banking experience, was also named as executive Vice-president of Scotiabank’s Caribbean, Central America & Uruguay, CCAU, region – a role she also takes over from King. She was previously executive vice-president, retail products in Canadian banking.

She will also sit on the boards of both Scotia Group and Bank of Nova Scotia Jamaica Limited, in addition to the board of Scotiabank Trinidad. Her appointments take effect on November 1.

“Scotiabank is also committed to advancing female leaders in the workplace, which we see as a top priority for the long-term success of the bank,” said Ignacio ‘Nacho’ Deschamps, group head of international banking and digital transformation at Scotiabank Canada, in a press release announcing the appointments.

“The appointments of Audrey and Anya, two seasoned Jamaican financial services leaders with deep expertise, will build on our strengths in Jamaica and the wider CCAU region,” he said.

Scotiabank, which is still in the middle of restructuring its Jamaican operation, says the announcements follow on efforts made by the bank to reposition and strengthen its business in the region. The reforms are both meant to maximise shareholder returns, while seeking out more efficient channels to serve clients.

The latter has seen a more aggressive push towards digital and online services – facilitated by the roll-out of intelligent ABMs – that are seen as more pragmatic under social-distancing rules meant to contain the spread of the coronavirus.

Scotiabank has operated in Jamaica for 131 years, since 1889. It got its first and, so far, only female chairman, Sylvia Chrominska, in March 2013, and its first female president, Sharp, six months later in September 2013.

Tugwell Henry is the second retail banker who worked with NCB to end up as the top boss of a financial group, in recent years, the other being Courtney Campbell, who is the president and CEO of Victoria Mutual Group.