Lieutenant Governor Tregenza A. Roach, Esq. who also serves as the Chairman of the Virgin Islands Banking Board, convened a two-day Board meeting on Thursday, April 21st and Friday, April 22nd. The Board received reports from each of the Territory’s banks, with all reports showing positive improvements and growth in a number of revenue and operational areas.
Board members Rosalie Javois, Richard Grant, Finance Commissioner Bosede Bruce, representatives of each of the Territory’s banks, and staff of the Division of Banking, Insurance, and Financial Regulation participated in the hybrid in-person/virtual meeting.
Senior bank officials from Banco Popular, Bank of St. Croix, First Bank, Merchants Commercial Bank, Oriental Bank, and the Economic Development Bank all provided operational updates and information relevant to their liquidity, loan offerings, advancements in digital access, and efforts to meet customer needs regarding priority services. Each bank highlighted a strong financial outlook and portfolio despite the ongoing pandemic.
However, the Board did note a common theme regarding the challenges that each bank faces regarding employee retention. A lack of adequate staff for branch operations has drastically impacted some banks regarding the timely services that they are able to offer customers. Banks assured the Board that recruitment efforts are ongoing to increase staffing and bring branches up to sufficient levels to handle the day-to-day demand of in-person customers.
The Board was impressed with employment packages offered by the banks which include full payment of life and health insurance for employees, 401K accounts, and even profit sharing by one local bank.
“The State of the Bank reports were well received and provided Board members with valuable information on the priority areas that we know greatly impact customers throughout the Territory. The economic position of the Territory’s banks is strong and shows favorable opportunities for financial assistance for residents seeking home ownership, business ownership, or services to support other essential needs,” said Lieutenant Governor Roach.
Board Members were particularly pleased to hear banks noting an increase in the request for construction loans, approval of construction loans, and partnerships with the Virgin Islands Housing Finance Authority to increase homeownership opportunities, particularly for first-time homeowners.
“On behalf of the Board, I would like to thank all bank representatives who participated in the meetings for their time and detailed reports,” Lieutenant Governor Roach added.
For more information, please contact the Division of Banking, Insurance and Financial Regulation on St. Croix at 340-773-6449 and (340) 774-2991 on St. Thomas.