Growth, need of services push FNBC ahead of schedule.
"Every time you expect to do something before you plan to and especially when it's a positive change, it feels good," said Keith Martell, chair and CEO of FNBC.
Martell has been with the bank since its humble beginnings in 1996 when FNBC was created as a means toward Aboriginal economic selfsufficiency. The FNBC was an alliance between Saskatchewan Indian Equity Foundation Inc., Federation of Saskatchewan Indians, Inc. and TD. As there were very few small and medium sized banks, FNBC joined with the TD. That has changed now, said Martell, with the advent of Credit Unions that have begun to grow and diversify.
"There are solutions that work really well. They are customizable for organizations of our size, they're flexible but they're powerful. They serve the customers very well. So that being available with our need, we felt we had the capacity to do it now and we should do it now," said Martell
According to the FNBC's website, "The strategic directive of the founding shareholders was to grow the bank and increase Aboriginal ownership to the point that the bank would be controlled by a widely held group of Aboriginal shareholders." By late 2009, a share conversion was completed with TD and resulted in Aboriginal shareholders from Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Yukon, Northwest Territories, Nunavut and Quebec taking ownership and control of over 80 per cent of the FNBC. Another goal set by FNBC was to transition away from TD by October 2014.
"It's not like TD is telling us we have to leave earlier. They gave us a lot of flexibility and they gave us a lot of leeway to be able to plan this to take longer, but we think we've got the capacity and the time is right to do it now," said Martell, who was appointed to his present position in 2009. Previous to that he was chair of the board of directors when FNBC was created and then later promoted to executive chair of the board.
FNBC's transition team is working out the logistics of the bank transitioning from TD's platform to its own computer system. Changes, including FNBC's pending independence, haven't yet been communicated to clients.
"Our needs continue to grow and to be more specific to our bank," said Martell. "In order to serve that need and the growth we have in the north and support First Nation communities and Inuit communities, we want to tailor some of our products and services to that market. So if you want to continue to meet the needs of your customers you need to have a system you can do that with."
Pending growth includes a branch to be opened in Yellowknife. FNBC opened its seventh branch in Iqaluit in 2010. There are branches already in operation in the Yukon, Saskatchewan, Ontario, Manitoba, and Quebec.
FNBC's transition team is working out the logistics of the bank transitioning from TD's platform to its own computer system. Changes, including FNBC's pending independence, haven't yet been communicated to clients. Changes clients can expect to see include being served in their own language at some automated banking machines and having easier access to electronic transfers, a service that will be appreciated "especially in northern and remote communities where it's very costly sometimes to move $100 in cash to your daughter who is going to school in Saskatoon or Regina," said Martell.
Registered mortgages onreserve will also be available because FNBC can now put in to place the tracking system required by the Indian Act.
BY SHARI NARINE
Sage Contributing Editor
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|Date:||Feb 1, 2012|
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