For Ormond Williams, winning “The Banker” Bank of the Year award again wasn’t an indication Cayman National Bank was where it needed to be.
“For me it means there is just so much more to do,” says Williams, the bank’s president. “I see every success as a chance to do more. I look at these successes and ask, ‘How can we use this as an impetus to do more?’ That’s my approach.”
An example of Williams’ approach was apparent in the way he responded to a customer who heaped praises on the bank’s customer service department after a credit card was used fraudulently.
“The way I viewed it, those are the things we should be doing every day,” he says. “That is the kind of excellence I want our staff to embody. Excellence has to be second nature to us.” Noting that any organisation is only as strong as its weakest link, Williams realises that excellence is a reflection of the bank’s staff.
“It’s more than what we do; it’s who we are that brings excellence.”
The way Williams sees it, the staff of Cayman National Bank is inextricably tied to the bank’s success. Making sure employees are treated well is therefore something the bank makes a priority, as was evident with Cayman National Bank’s winning the inaugural Cayman Islands Society of Human Resources Professionals “Top Employer” award in the large business category in 2011.
The bank is committed to hiring, training, and with best efforts, retaining Caymanian employees. “We have 260 staff members,” he says. “We only have five or six work permits. That is not by accident. All my senior management are Caymanians and we celebrate that.”
Cayman National is also committed to supporting the further education of its employees who seek it, funding 100 percent of the cost. “We pay for it up front,” Williams says. “They don’t have to wait until they finish to have us reimburse them.”
During the midst of the global financial crisis between 2008 and 2012, Cayman National Bank continued to pay for the further education of its employees, even though many other programmes and initiatives were abandoned or paused.
“The one thing we did not cut is training and development,” Williams says. “We strongly believe that we must support our people in their continuing education. They will in turn add value and we all benefit.” Investing in people in this fashion comes with some risk that those who get advanced training may end up leaving for a higher-paying position elsewhere.
“People ask me, ‘What happens if you train them and they leave?’” Williams says. “I ask, ‘What happens if we don’t train them and they stay?’” Even if an employee who receives funding for further education leaves, Williams sees it as a victory. “It just means we’ll release more people in society that are fit for purpose. We all win.”
The Bank of the Year award is presented by “The Banker,” a monthly magazine owned by the UK’s “Financial Times.” “The Banker” bills the award “as the industry standard for banking excellence” and Williams says it is taken very seriously in the banking industry.
Cayman National Bank has now won the award four times since 2005.
Williams says that award criteria include financial performance, innovation, new products and services, how a bank reaches out to its community, financial inclusion and corporate social responsibility. Williams is proud of Cayman National Bank’s winning the Bank of the Year award because it is a validation of excellence, even if he has no intention of allowing the bank to rest on its laurels.
“We’re always thrilled to get an award from an organisation that has no vested interest in the Cayman Islands,” he says “The Bank of the Year award says we’re doing something right, but the challenge is to do it all the time and improve as we do it.”
Cayman National Bank’s days of physical expansion have probably come to a halt.
“I don’t think we’ll see any bricks and mortar anytime soon,” Williams says, noting however that there would be investments in technology.
Unlike other commercial banks here, Cayman National Bank has its only operations in the Cayman Islands.
“That means client acquisition and keeping our clients is a big focus for us,” he says.
Excellence in customer service is one way to acquire and retain clients and Williams says improving on service quality and the speed of decisions for clients were both areas on which the bank was concentrating.
Keeping costs down in a time of rising expenses due to compliance with various international regulatory requirements is something else Cayman National Bank is trying to do for clients.
“I don’t want to increase fees just to increase fees,” says Williams. “Cayman is already an expensive jurisdiction. Yes, we have to bring value to our shareholders and we have a serious obligation to deliver on shareholders’ expectations. But we have a clientele that is loyal to us and I don’t want to be greedy. I think that we can make money and still provide products and services that people want and that are priced where clients get good value for money.”