Jamaica National Tightens Operations

KINGSTON, Jamaica – Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) introduced measures to assist its members, improve staff productivity, and cut costs against the background of a challenging economic environment in its financial year ended March 31, 2010.

The global economic crisis and the weakness of the Jamaican economy directly impacted on the operations of JNBS and the livelihood of its members, said Earl Jarrett, JNBS General Manager. He was addressing the 136th Annual General Meeting of the Society at the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel, on Wednesday (Sept. 22).

“It was imperative for Jamaica National (JN) to identify ways to not only increase our competitiveness, but, more importantly, to review our operations and introduce new initiatives to minimize costs and optimize efficiency,” he stated. The first priority however, was to assist members to withstand the effects of the crisis.

Earl Jarrett, General Manager, Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS), addresses its 136th Annual General Meeting in the Grand Jamaica Suite of the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel on Wednesday, September 22. The meeting was streamed live via the internet to hundreds of members gathered at JNBS offices locally and overseas.

“In the area of mortgage, our core operation, our portfolio declined,” he stated. “We disbursed $6.54 Billion in loans, which was 17 percent less or $1.3 billion below the $7.84 Billion reported last year.”

To assist mortgagors, the compulsory upkeep savings requirement was removed allowing 6,100 mortgagors a benefit valued at $411 Million. Interest rate rebates were granted to 400 mortgagors, who consistently paid their mortgage on time, and 314 members had their mortgage terms renegotiated with several others being offered loan moratoriums.

New savings and short term investment products, such as the Pioneer Club and the JN Vacation Accounts were promoted, which resulted in approximately 1,100 new accounts valued at more than $683 million. These efforts translated into a Net Savings Intake (NSI) of $4.66 Billion, down from $6.1 Billion the year before.

Audience members listen attentively at the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) 136th Annual General Meeting in the Grand Jamaica Suite of the Jamaica Pegasus Hotel on Wednesday, September 22.

The Society also promoted the advantage of paying utility and other bills at JN Money Shop Xpress locations at no cost, and the use of JN automated teller machines (ATM) where there is no charge for members to deposit and withdraw funds.

“Last year, we paid out $38.3 Million in fees to allow members to use non-JN ATMs,” Mr. Jarrett pointed out. This is because Jamaica National absorbed the costs incurred when JN members used non-JN ATMs; and also offered members of the public the option to pay their bills at JN locations, at no charge.

These were identified as two areas where costs could be cut; therefore, fees were introduced for the use of non-JN ATMS, and for bill payments at JNBS branches.

Staffing was another area that was reviewed. He said, “We also looked at our staff complement and, regrettably, we had to reduce the numbers, both locally and overseas.”

The JNBS operating processes were also changed, with improved document management tracking systems from Xsomo, and the continued roll out of the computer software used to facilitate speedier teller transactions and other activities at the branches.

“We also increased the number of cost efficient locations,” he stated. New JN Money Shops were opened at the Half-Way-Tree Transport Centre and in Highgate, St Mary; and on September 1, the 25th JNBS branch was opened at the Mona Campus of the University of the West Indies, bringing to 33, the number of JN locations across the island.

Raphael Gordon (from left), Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) Director, shares a moment with Nigel Chambers, Principal of KPMG, and Mary Smith, JNBS Group Risk and Compliance Executive.

The Society performed creditably in its main overseas markets during the past year. He said, “We continued to invest heavily in our business through our Representative Offices in the three main markets – the United States of America, United Kingdom and Canada, to promote the Society and to inform the members about our activities.”

And despite the challenges, the JNBS after tax profit was $642 Million higher than the $409 million earned in the previous year.

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