Sun | Jan 21, 2018

Letter of the Day: Lee-Chin should start with his own bank

Published:Monday | May 2, 2016 | 12:00 AM


Chairman of National Commercial Bank (NCB) Michael Lee-Chin is to head a council that will seek to spur economic growth, partly by finding ways to make Government more facilitative to economic growth. Of course, this is all well and good. However, may I be so bold and advise Mr Lee-Chin that maybe the first place he can start is with his own bank and the banking sector?

I am reminded of a plan that I had with some of the schools with which I work to make their student-fee management more efficient. For those who don't know, when banks like NCB collect fees from students, they usually send statements to the schools showing each payment. However, in the vast majority of cases, each payment on the statement does not show who made the payment, but the voucher number.

In an effort to make the management of fee collection more efficient and easier, I remember helping these schools to ask if the statement could not be modified (and digitised), to include the student's name. I distinctly remember helping with the written requests to both NCB and the Bank of Nova Scotia (BNS). BNS advised that the request could not be facilitated, while NCB, Mr Lee-Chin's bank, didn't even bother to respond.

Of course, I am not only talking about my own experiences. How many times do we hear people with very good business ideas complaining about the difficulties that they have when trying to get funding from banks like Mr Lee-Chin's? This is especially true if these ideas are not the traditional ones, like car loans and the sort, and especially true if the ideas have to do with innovation in technology.

I wonder if Mr Lee-Chin could do more with his bank and be much more facilitative of ideas that seem out-of-the-box.




Many people say that one of the reasons they don't go into business is because interest rates are just too high. I even remember the current finance minister complaining about this the last time his party was in power. You know, I have a gut feeling that if Mr Lee-Chin could get his bank to reduce interest rates on loans, that may end up being more helpful in spurring economic growth than cutting government red tape. Judging from the super profits that his and other banks are making, I sometimes wonder why this is so hard.

Mr Lee-Chin and other bank bosses should also find a way to make doing simple business with their banks easier. Many people consider opening an account at these banks as harder than pulling teeth!

I know that Mr Lee-Chin's bank is a business and not charity, but he and others have the power of change right there in their hands.