There have been several changes in recent years to laws and banking regulations meant to enhance the anti-money laundering (AML)/counter financing of terrorism (CFT) regulatory environment.
Recognising the importance of having this and other relevant information easily accessible to employees, particularly those who interact with customers, Scotiabank TT (Scotiabank) has invested "substantially" in a knowledge management system.
This was announced by Scotiabank Chairman Brendan King during the bank's 48th Annual Meeting of Shareholders at Hyatt Regency, Port of Spain on March 6.
"We are investing substantially at Scotiabank in what we call Knowledge Management, which is to do exactly what you're saying – take all the manuals and procedures and memos that go out to branches, put them in a central data depository and make it easier for our staff to access it. So, they know more quickly what the issues are and what the answers are for our customers.
“That project is in progress and we hope to be able to launch that this year… across the Caribbean and here in TT. So hopefully those things will get better and better."
King was responding to a shareholder's suggestion – an older gentleman who identified himself as Anthony – that all banks in TT should have a quick reference system, for tellers and customers alike, to reduce the wait-time customers sometimes experience when there's an issue with their intended transaction.
Earlier during the meeting, King said the work being done at Scotiabank's Digital Factories – located in Canada Mexico, Peru, Chile and Colombia – would soon benefit its Caribbean customers.
"(There), employees from our business lines and corporate functions work together to re-invent the way our customers bank with us. Our five Digital Factories are virtually connected to each other and they are continuously sharing innovative customer solutions – an approach that allows us to benefit from our global footprint. The solutions devised in these factories will benefit all of Scotiabank's operations.
"In order to accelerate the implementation in the Caribbean of (these) digital solutions, we will soon be launching a 'digital accelerator' team which will be composed of dedicated digital professionals who will work with the Digital Factories and local leaders to customise solutions for our customers and accelerate their roll out to our markets."
During the question and answer segment of the meeting, shareholder Anthony also gave suggestions on how the local banking sector can improve the implementation of digital services.
"Consistently, you hear about digitisation (but) the actual implementation of these things seems very patchy. Sometimes they actually regress rather than progress (banking services)."
Anthony shared the experience when he and another "elderly gentleman" attempted to open a joint account at another, unnamed, bank.
"It took one hour and 15 minutes to do that...Yet on that very day, we had gone to the government pension office (where) he had to sign to say he's still alive and kicking. We sat in the car, the clerk brought this huge folder print out to the car and allowed him to sign it there. It took all of five minutes."
While this incident did not involve Scotiabank, King assured Anthony that the bank is "investing a tremendous amount to improve the customer experience - the onboarding, as we call it – such as opening of accounts."
Referring to the aforementioned changes to the AML/CTF regulations and how this has affected certain transactions, King said this "does require us (banks) to have substantially more information from a customer than perhaps (years ago)." However, that the bank's teams are "working very hard to improve and make that faster."
King also assured Anthony that digital is more than a slogan at Scotiabank.
"It's really at the core of what we're trying to be, is to be where our customers are and where and how they want to be serviced. (Our digital strategy) will continue to be a big investment for us, and hopefully you and all other customers will see the benefits of that in better service as we go down the road."
Scotiabank TT Managing Director Stephen Bagnarol thanked Anthony for raising "some very important points" about banking in general.
Regarding the excellent customer service provided to the unnamed senior citizen at the government pension office, Bagnarol said he had taken note of this, "in terms of someone coming to the car with the form."
"That's good customer service. You can have all the computers but if someone needs some special attention, we'll be there to do that, and I like that example. Thank you, sir."
Another shareholder, Mr Dookeran, had both praise for the bank's consistent positive performance and a suggestion on how it could save money when holding meetings.
"Let me congratulate the employees, including the tea lady, the directors, the messengers... for producing a steady growth and profit, consecutively, for many, many years. I'm also pleased, when you go in the bank, to see the employees greet you with a smile.
Dookeran then recommended the bank hold "periodic meetings" rather than the Annual Meeting of Shareholders because the latter costs more than a smaller event would.
"Between now and next meeting, we could have periodic meetings where you only have to spend petty cash. Also, a six-inch (ad) space in three or four newspapers on different days in one week or two weeks and almost everybody in the country will know (what you need to tell them)," Dookeran recommended.
Credit card notifications when a Scotiabank customer is travelling was another matter raised at the meeting. A shareholder who identified herself as Wendy lamented that the notification procedure isn't streamlined enough.
"I suggest that with all your digital forwarding, that you think about a digital way where people can email their notification, get a quicker response and be able to, even if you have to answer security questions, do that online."
King said, "That's a great suggestion and (while) I can't speak to exactly what's on the website here, in many markets you can go onto Scotia OnLine and do a travel notification right there."
The chairman then asked Bagnarol to "look into...what the ability to do that easily and efficiently is, because I 100 per cent agree that you want that done before you go (abroad)."
Wendy also called on the bank to "allow you to put more money on your card than your limit", particularly when a customer is abroad and wants access to additional funds.
"We'll look into that as well," King assured.
Tuesday's meeting was Bagnarol's first as MD – he succeeded Anya Schnoor as MD on November 1 last year.
Having spoken about the bank's digital strategy and his aim of making Scotiabank and its customers "best in class globally," Bagnarol took the time after the formal proceedings were finished, to meet with as many shareholders as possible.
Among them, Anthony, who was once again thanked by the MD for suggesting ways to improve transaction times and the level of customer service at all banks in TT.