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Banker Patrick Hylton offers rousing talk on having big dreams

Published:Saturday | January 4, 2020 | 12:22 AMJudana Murphy/Gleaner Writer
Patrick Hylton, CEO of NCB Financial Group.
Patrick Hylton, CEO of NCB Financial Group.

On a Sunday afternoon in September 1983, a young Patrick Hylton, now well-known banker, travelled by bus from Four Paths in Clarendon to Six Miles in Kingston.

He had with him two bags – one with clothes and the other with a rolled piece of sponge that would serve as his bed, where he resided with his elder sister in Patrick City who was a bank teller.

“My sister lived on the small side of a house … . [I slept] in the front room, which was essentially the living room, and I couldn’t leave the bed out there, so I had to roll it up. That’s where I started,” he said.

He made the transition to Kingston to pursue a diploma in banking at the College of Arts, Science and Technology, now the University of Technology.

In an unscripted keynote address at Guardian Group Blast Off 2020, Hylton, who is CEO of NCB Financial Group and chairman of Guardian Holdings Limited, told the story of how he owned his disruption in the early years of his career.

In Hylton’s first year of the diploma programme, he said he found himself having “great difficulty” understanding the subject.

He was called to a meeting by a Mr Smith, one of his lecturers who recommended that he discontinue the programme, think carefully about what he wanted to do, and, most important, “make sure it did not involve accounts”.

Hylton was devastated, but he was intent on refuting the words he had been told.

“When I went on that 75 bus, I came off at Matilda’s Corner and went into Sangster’s Book Stores and I asked [a representative] to give me some books that would help me to build my foundation in accounts,” he said at the Jamaica Conference Centre in Kingston yesterday.


Hylton acquired two popular accounting books authored by Frank Wood and immersed himself in the subject, reading as he got on the bus to continue his journey home and practising until the wee hours of the morning.

“I had inside of me the fire of burning desire, not to just prove Mr Smith wrong but to master accounts,” an enthusiastic Hylton said.

He completed the first book and was well into the second when he returned to classes the following week.

The lecturer was surprised that he was in attendance, as he thought he had acted immediately on his advice.

“When he started teaching, he asked a question, and I put up my hand and he looked at me, like, this is a serious question. I answered the question and he was shocked. He immediately asked me another question and I answered, and a third question,” he recounted.

Hylton encouraged the more than 500 executives and staff of Guardian Life Limited and their partnering brokerage companies to see their lives and the company they work with as not what they are, but what they could become.

“You can accomplish anything! Anything you want to accomplish, it is a function of how you much you want to put in it,” he said to rousing applause.

The attendees were also treated to a high-spirited performance by ASHE and inspiring stories shared by guests on the Triple A show, featuring former West Indies cricketer Wavell Hinds and founder and CEO of We Inspire, Cortia Bingham.