Tue | Jun 19, 2018

Honour Awards | Patrick Hylton - A leader who is always aiming higher

Published:Tuesday | January 23, 2018 | 12:00 AM
Patrick Hylton
Patrick Hylton

Patrick Hylton, the corporate executive who has been delivering multibillion-dollar super profits for the National Commercial Bank (NCB) Financial Group, and who led the epochal rescue of the Jamaican financial sector following its meltdown in the late 1990s, admits to having been influenced most by the women in his life - his late mother and his wife. He is also a disciple of sorts of international motivational speaker Les Brown. Also, his now 94-year-old father has been a living example of how to always stay calm and in control.

Hylton is a leader who can't help dropping motivational gems in every conversation including to his managers, line staff, as well as during an interview with The Gleaner. Living these maxims has helped to push NCB, which he has led since 2004, to phenomenal success.

He said that he thrives on crises for the opportunities they bring, and seeks to distinguish himself through performance. "I am inspired at all times to give of my best," he said, noting that a leader must establish the organisational aspiration, or big vision, define the external environment for his team, and develop his staff. "An aspiration is the main fuel for progress. It converts ordinary people into extraordinary achievers," he quoted Narayana Murthy, founder of Indian tech company Infosys.

Hylton said that he is bold and open to change. "We would not seek a battle as we are, nor, as we are, we say we will not shun it," is one of his mother's favourite quotations from Shakespeare's Henry V.

He recalls how difficult it was as head of the state-established Financial Sector Adjustment Company bailout vehicle to convince investors to buy the Government of Jamaica's 75 per cent stake in NCB following the financial sector collapse of the 1990s. "It was a difficult sell," he said. He couldn't find an investment bank willing to advise on the sale. One said that they would not sully their name by being associated with NCB, given the stark economic problems in the Jamaican banking sector and overall economy at the time. Another said they would sell their shares in any bank that bought NCB, as they would seriously question the judgment of anybody willing to take it on.


Stratospheric annual net profits


Fast-forward to the present and the NCB Financial Group has just posted stratospheric annual net profits of $19.1 billion for the financial year ending September 30, 2017; and Hylton is gunning to earn more for the NCB shareholders for the current year, continuing several years of uninterrupted profit climb. He is convinced that Michael Lee Chin, the Jamaican-Canadian investor who ploughed his money into taking the then unattractive NCB off the Government's hands even against the advice of his own advisers, deserves every success coming to him from the NCB transformation.

Hylton recalls that following the unsuccessful first round of talks with the businessman, he made one last trip to Canada to sell Lee Chin not a bank, but a vision of a bank that could be the role model for all Jamaica.

In 2012, NCB bought Advantage General Insurance Company, followed by the acquisition in 2013 of the former AIC Finance Limited in Trinidad to create NCB Global Finance. In late 2015, NCB bought a 29.9 per cent stake in Guardian Holdings Limited (GHL), the publicly-traded Trinidadian company that wholly owns Guardian Life Limited Jamaica.

The Jamaican banking group is now in the process of a bid to acquire a total 62 per cent of GHL, which would immediately place NCB in more than 20 countries across the English-speaking and Dutch Caribbean.

The banking group, with some 36 locations across Jamaica, is in commercial banking in the Cayman Islands, and provides merchant banking services in Trinidad and Tobago and wealth management and investment through NCB Capital Markets Limited in Barbados, Trinidad and Cayman. A United Kingdom representative office of NCB handles remittance of pensions and gives general banking support to NCB customers in the UK.

Hylton is a patriot whose greatest hope for Jamaica is that the country will achieve its true potential, having distinguished itself in areas such athletics, medicine, journalism, music and many others. He believes in striving for excellence. "Good enough is not good enough. Your attitude determines your altitude," he exhorted, quoting actor Will Smith, that: "Being realistic is the most travelled pathway to mediocrity."

Hylton is committed to giving back to the society. In addition to pursuing worthy causes especially education through the NCB Foundation, he is chairman of the Mona School of Business and Management and serves on several government boards including Harmonisation Limited, the Economic Growth Council and the Economic Programme Oversight Committee.