Fri | Nov 16, 2018

Israel quits RBC

Published:Sunday | December 18, 2011 | 12:00 AM
Sabrina Gordon, Business Reporter

Minna Israel, who has served as country manager at RBC Royal Bank Jamaica for the last four years, will be leaving to join the Mona School of Business (MSB) at the University of the West Indies on a full-time basis.

Her resignation from the bank, announced in a statement released on Friday, takes effect in mid-January 2012.

In response to Sunday Business queries, Israel said she has decided to leave the bank at this time because "sometimes opportunities come up and if you don't grab them, you might lose them".

In her role at MSB, she said, "I will be working with the executive director to manage and transform the school of business into a world-class business school, targeting both local and international students.

"This has been a passion and dream of mine and so now I am getting an opportunity to realise it while I am still young," she said.

Israel's association with MSB will not be entirely new, given that she has been chairman of the board since 2008.

RBC Royal Bank has not disclosed who will succeed her, saying only that it will be announced in due course.

RBC said that in the interim, vice-presidents for personal banking, Antoinette Reid-Walcott and Roxann Linton, will lead the team, which will report directly to the bank's regional president for personal banking, Harriet Thornhill.

The bank quoted Israel as saying, in announcing her decision to leave: "I have enjoyed working at RBC/RBTT and I considered it a tremendous opportunity and privilege to have led the Jamaica operations over the past four years.

"Although the time has come for me to pursue my next dream of giving back to my country, I leave confident that the dedicated and committed team at RBC will continue to pursue our vision, always earning the right to be our clients' first choice."

Thornhill said that "as a key member of the Caribbean banking leadership team", Israel, a former president of the Jamaica Bankers Association, "led with dedication and integrity".

Israel, a career banker, joined the then RBTT Bank Jamaica on January 21, 2008. In July, this year, it was rebranded RBC Royal Bank Jamaica.

Israel previously worked with Bank of Nova Scotia Jamaica, rising consistently in the bank to positions of executive vice-president and deputy managing director before she was deployed to The Bahamas to head that country's operations. She was seen as a natural successor to William Clarke, the then Scotia Bank Jamaica managing director.

But in an about-turn, Israel was co-opted to run RBC Royal Bank Jamaica, the institution where she started her banking career and had worked for many years.

RBC Royal Bank is a much smaller operation to Scotiabank, but is ranked number three among the island's commercial banks with assets of $53 billion of which its loan book totalled $24.87 billion, according to 2011 data from the Bank of Jamaica. The data also show that it has a $9-billion capital base.

RBC Royal Bank Jamaica has been considered a quiet player in the commercial banking market compared with the top-two rivals, Scotiabank and National Commercial Bank.

But five months after taking over the helm at RBTT, Israel announced that she was giving herself between three to five years to narrow the gap by leveraging the strength of its parent company, Royal Bank of Canada, and grow the market on good client service.

According to Bank of Jamaica data, while there was an increase in RBC's capital base as at June 2011 compared with March 2008, the asset base and loans seem to have waned.

In March 2008, some three months after Israel became head of RBTT, the value of its assets stood at $57.16 billion with loans of $30.74 billion. Ho-wever, since then both figures have decreased slightly.

The bank's deposits during Israel's term in office moved up, however, to $36.46 billion at the end of June 2011, from $35.77 billion at the end of March 2008.