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RJRGLEANER Honour Awards | For Business: National Commercial Bank - Aspiring to build a better Jamaica

Published:Friday | January 18, 2019 | 12:00 AMVanessa James/Gleaner Writer
Patrick Hylton, chief executive officer, National Commercial Bank
NCB Half-Way-Tree

"An aspiration is the main fuel for progress because an aspiration transforms ordinary people into extraordinary achievers," said Patrick Hylton quoting N.R. Narayana Murthy, founder of Infosys, India's number-two information technology company.

Today, Hylton, the chief executive officer of National Commercial Bank (NCB), is happy. Not only is NCB the number-one bank in Jamaica, but it is also the recipient of the 2018 RJRGLEANER Honour Award in the category of Business.

"It's always nice to be recognised for your contribution to society," Hylton said, "because it speaks volumes to the fact that we are not only doing well, but also doing good."

Founded in 1977, NCB has grown since its inception, and Hylton states that three things have largely contributed to the institution's exponential development.

"I think there are a couple of things that have significantly contributed to NCB's growth and performance," he said.

"One of which is strategy, which is a five-step process to achieving and attaining your aspirations. The second one is around culture and adopting the styles of the digital age, and the third one is around execution, where the focus is on performance management," Hylton outlined.

He added that the bank works towards enhancing the skills, capabilities and competences of its employees and, more importantly, changing the mindset to one that is positive, solutions-focused, and outcome-oriented.

"So, always, the focus is getting results, getting the outcome that we would like," he said.

He went on to explain that the three points are not mutually exclusive and gave a further explanation of each.

According to Hylton, NCB is seeking to become more digitally oriented as the world is going in that direction, and he noted that embracing external trends could help achieve this.


Adapting to trends


"Something traditional conservative institutions have historically not done so well is adapting to trends," he said.

One of the key reasons, according to Hylton, is that the traditional companies tend to be slow to respond to changes in technology because they are big bureaucracies that have existed a long time and have become comfortable with how they operate.

"We [at NCB] want a culture that is alive, that is agile, which is able to pivot, which is alert to changes which are taking place," he said. "Not necessarily to only respond, but also to lead the change."

NCB was the first to roll out smart automated banking machines (ABMs) in Jamaica, which, Hylton jokingly said, are almost becoming old technology now.

He said these ABMs were introduced along with kiosks that have been very helpful in the day-to-day banking operations.

Hylton said he was further enthused by the fact that the customers adapted quickly to the technology that was put in place by NCB.

"Even in our projections, we never anticipated the rate of adaption that we experienced, so that was a positive thing, and it continues to do well," Hylton said.

"We continue to invest more in them (technology solutions), continue to increase the services available, and one of the things that is good is that these solutions are more secure in terms of preventing fraud than the older, more traditional models of ABMs."

He further ad-dressed the fears related to online banking security in this fast-paced age.

The CEO of NCB promised that the cybersecurity that is in place is best in class as the bank has partnerships with some of the top security firms around the world, working with them on policy, testing the systems for weaknesses and the sensitisation to the dangers and risks, and determining how to pinpoint these dangers and risks and address them.

He also stressed the importance of customer education about online banking, which NCB has initiated across media and in person to inform customers of ways to keep their information safe.

According to Hylton, to keep ahead of the game and to be the market leaders, the initiatives put in place by NCB have given it a cutting edge - the core of which is customer-driven products and services.




"Like many of our competitors, we provide a range of financial services, but I think NCB, in a Jamaican context, goes beyond that," he said. "NCB has a big part to play in, as our mantra says, building a better Jamaica because we realise that Jamaica's success is our success."

While NCB has expanded regionally, Jamaica continues to be its home base, with the majority of its operations being located here.

"[NCB is] Home-grown, home-focused, home committed and completely aligned with the people of the nation," said Hylton, which is the mantra the institution lives by.

NCB continues to impact the lives of Jamaicans through outreach programmes. NCB Foundation, created in 2003, serves communities with a focus on education, youth and entrepreneurship, and community development and sports.

The foundation has donated more than $1.5 billion to these causes, with the majority of the resources going to education as per the dream of the company's chairman, Michael Lee-Chin.

The social responsibility efforts, in turn line up well with NCB's aspirations for the nation.

"Our focus is on lifting Jamaica to achieve its true potential, and I believe through these initiatives, we have facilitated this," Hylton said, adding that the foundation has given thousands of scholarships and grants to students.

"We have contributed through community development and entrepreneurship, where we helped to develop communities and community initiatives, along with many small businesses, and also through sports, where we are involved with the MVP Track Club, Jamaica Olympic Association and Jamaica Athletics Administrative Association," he said.

Hylton said that for 2019, NCB will be funding more scholarships and grants and providing life skills and vocational training for at-risk/underprivileged youths.

NCB is also planning to launch a leadership academy to provide mentorship, career guidance and financial-literacy support to its scholarship and grant recipients. In addition to assisting CSEC principles of accounts and principles of business students, the foundation will also assist those who are taking the information technology exams and provide support for PATH beneficiaries.