NCB sold a stunning US$900M net in FX market in 2020

Jamaica’s largest commercial bank may not be Jamaica’s central bank, but their size and profitability probably rank them just behind Bank of Jamaica as the most powerful and influential financial institution in the country. NCB’s influence on the local forex market is only exceeded by that of BOJ, no other bank comes close, locally and their power and reach may have saved the country from steep devaluation and a major rundown of the NIR.

In September, after the Jamaican dollar rate versus the US dollar climbed above J$151, ICInsider.com was reliably informed that NCB management thought the rate was overextended and the bank sold large amounts into the market that helped to push the rate down towards $142 by the month end. The sales were made easier by the banking group, with the confirmation that they had raised US250 million from the issuance of diversified payment rights for payments due from correspondent banks.
NCB is not the darling of a large segment of Jamaican society as they dominate so much of the financial sector. Many Jamaicans see the multi-billion profit of the NCB Group as insane in a country where the majority struggle financially. Worse, many small customers of the bank see them as uncaring and lacking good customer relation practices.
The extent of NCB’s impact on the local foreign exchange market is not fully known. There are strong views by many with knowledge of developments within the financial sector that sees National Commercial Bank as the main players that influence the value of the Jamaican dollar and they do not like it.
Data out of the Bank of Jamaica for 2019 and 2020 indicate clearly that NCB impact on the market is extremely significant, but not in the manner many persons think. The data shows that when NCB is not a major net seller in the market, the exchange rate tends to depreciate and when they are not net sellers, the rate tends to appreciate.
In the period from the start of 2020 to late September, NCB sold a net of US$692 million to the market, in stark contrast to their nearest rival – Bank of Nova Scotia. BNS bought a net of US$38 million over the same period. In September last, NCB sold a net of US$127 million short and only had net purchase on just three days in the month.
NCB’s net sales in 2020 follow a significant US$453 million net sales for the twelve months in 2019. NCB sold a net of US$217 million to the system between October and December last year, bringing the total for the year to a stunning US$909 million.
According to a spokesperson for NCB, the bank actively manages its foreign exchange portfolio, buying long or selling foreign currencies short as their reading of the market dictates. Part of the net sales, they explained, came from the conversion of non-US currencies in overseas markets into US dollars. The bank is also involved in forward contracts for buying and selling of the currency, this publication was informed by someone close to the group.
Included in funds sold to the market in 2020 was the conversion of CAD$400 million that was sold into the system as US dollars.

Flat profits for Scotia Group

Scotia Group reported a marginally lower profit net of taxation of $1.75 billion for the quarter ending January, compared to $1.78 billion in 2019, despite the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its operations directly and that of their clients.

Scotia Group hiked dividend.

Profit for the quarter flowed from total revenues of $11.74 billion, similar to the amount earned in the comparative period last year. Net interest income fell to $5.8 billion from $6.2 billion in 2019, while provision for credit losses dropped from $895 million in 2019 to $430 million this year. Prior period results included additional provisions of $408 million (one time impact), based on adopting a more prudent approach in determining credit loss provisions.
According to the group’s directors,“ total revenues continue to be heavily impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic as evidenced by the ongoing reduction in interest rates offered in the market, leading to a reduction in the Group’s net interest income coupled with the decline in transaction volumes resulting in lower net fee and commissions as well as insurance revenues.”
Other income grew 10.9 percent or $535 million over 2020. Net fee and commission income amounted to $1.7 billion, a reduction of $339 million or 16.8 percent compared to the 2020 inflows, due partially to lower transaction volumes stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic in conjunction with the continued execution of the Group’s digital adoption strategy.
Insurance revenues fell $423 million or 40 percent to $634 million due to the reduction in premium income stemming from the pandemic as well as lower actuarial reserve releases. Net gains on foreign currency activities and financial assets amounted to $2.2 billion, an increase of $333 million or 18.3 percent above the prior year. Other revenues climbed by $963 million from just $9.5 million in 2020 is attributable to gains realized on the extinguishment of debt facilities.
Operating expenses amounts to $7.8 billion for the period and reflected an increase of $656 million or 9.2 percent. “This was primarily attributable to an increase in other operating expenses of $804 million, which was partially offset by the reduction in salaries and staff benefits of $196 million. The increase noted in other operating expenses was due to provisions for non-salary related restructuring and other technology expenses. Excluding restructuring and other one-off expenses, operating expenses would be flat compared to Q1/2020,” the Group reported. Asset tax expenses grew year over year by $23 million or 1.9 percent to $1.3 billion, given the increase in the Group’s assets.

Scotiabank gained $1 on Friday.

Total assets increased year over year by $10 billion to $553 billion at the end of January. This was predominantly a result of the growth in cash resources of $17 billion or 15 percent and loan portfolio of $4.5 billion or 2.1 percent, which was partially offset by a reduction in investments of $3.1 billion or 2 percent, and other assets of $8.1 billion or 13.4 percent.
The loan portfolio grew by $4.5 billion or 2.1 percent year over year, with loans after allowances for credit losses increasing to $217 billion, down from $221 billion at the end of October last year.
Deposits by the public increased to $342 billion, up from $315 billion in the previous year and up from $337 billion at the end of October.
On a positive note, the holding of profit in line with that of 2020 is a strong positive, even more so as there are large one off costs incurred during the period. The decline in loans since the October year end is negative, but loans grew 3.3 percent between October 2019 and January 2020 and a stronger 4.7 percent from February to April. Growth in the July and October quarters was flat. If the group can return to the growth rate of the first half of the last fiscal year, then profits should start to see an appreciable rise, without it, profit increase will be muted.

NCB US$ selling revalues Jamaican$

The Jamaican dollar continues to revalue from the low point reached in August $151.18, with the rate ending at J$$141.94 in Thursday’s trading as National Commercial Bank (NCB) continues to be the primary seller of the US dollar for the week to date.
For the week to Thursday, NCB sold off a net of US$24 million. Dealers bought US$32 million on Thursday and sold US$56.6 million compared to buying US$46.8 million and selling US$51.4 million on Wednesday at an average rate of $142.6258. On Thursday, NCB sold a net of nearly US$20 million.
IC Insider.com’s technical chart suggests further appreciation for the currency that came under selling pressure with the fall out caused by the COVID 19 inflicted crisis. The local currency has broken resistance at $142.60, with the next resistance set at $140. If it breaks through that level, it will hit the next resistance level at J$137.
In Thursday’s trading, NCB bought only US$2.36 million at an average rate of $138.01 to the US dollar but sold US$22 million at $141.06. In comparison, Scotiabank bought just US$3.5 million on Thursday at $139.81 sold US$8 million at $142.87 after buying US$18.2 million Wednesday and sellingUS$9.6 million on that day.

Scotia jacks up credit loss by 344%

Add your HTML code here...

In the July quarter, Scotia Group jacked-up expected credit loss provision by 344 percent from $582 million in the 2019 period to $2.6 billion due to the impact of the 2020 COVID 19 virus has on several businesses in Jamaica and, notably, the banking sector, resulting from lower business activity since March.  

Scotia Group increased loan loss provision by 344% in the July quarter.

The big July quarter, the increase comes after the banking group hiked the provision by a hefty 264 percent to $1.77 billion in the April quarter, from $487 million in the April 2019 quarter and $895 million in the January 2020 period.
The Group’s total expected credit loss provision for loans in July 2020 amounts to $8.1 billion, while nonperforming loans amount to $4.9 billion compared to $3.8 billion last year and $5 billion at the end of April.
Loans advanced to customers stood at $221 billion at the end of July, a growth of 12 percent year over year, but declined modestly from $223 billion at the end of April, the result of the increased credit loss provisioning and no new net loans granted.
While the bank increased the provision for expected credit loss sharply in the quarter, the stabilization of nonperforming loans at the April levels may be an indication that there may be no need for heavy provisioning in the next few quarters. If the nonperforming loans hold around current levels, it could help in returning profit to more normal levels, compared to a profit after tax that declined sharply by 63 percent for the July quarter to $1.55 billion, from $4.2 billion in 2019.
At the close of trading on the Jamaica Stock Exchange, Main Market to stock gained 50 cents in ending at $50.50.

J$ revaluation leads to more US$ selloff

On Tuesday dealers purchased US$39.6 million from the public at $127.50 and sold $44.86 million at an average of $128.63 down from $128.93 on Monday.
On Monday, Bank of Nova Scotia bought US$14.27 million and sold $11.68 million on Monday and on Tuesday bought US$5.6 million and sold $10.1 million while National Commercial Bank bought US$8.66 million and sold US$18.95 million on Monday and on Tuesday bought $4.1 million and sold $9.5 million. Sagicor Bank bought US$1.96 million but sold $9.92 million on Monday and on Tuesday purchased $787,000 and sold $1.89 million. JN Bank sold $6 million on Tuesday having bought just $1.6 million and Victoria Mutual Building Society bought US$3.1 million and sold just $347,000.
In foreign exchange trading, dealers in total bought US$56.13 million and sold $73.36 million, representing a net sale of US$17 million on Monday. Purchases of all currencies on Monday amounted to US$60.64 million and selling of $76.95 million and on Tuesday, purchases of all currencies amounted to US$45.44 million and selling of $59.3 million. Including in the trade was the purchase of can$4.68 million and sale of Can$17.16 million.
The sell off of US dollar is unlikely to be coming from stock piling of foreign currency and may be coming from banks selling the currency short hoping to buy back at a lower price in the winter months when the supply is expected to be higher. The financial institutions are also earners of foreign exchange from loans, bonds and fees on foreign currency accounts and would have some of these to sell.

85% of Scotia’s transactions now online

Scotia Group branches now being used less with more use of electronic banking by customers.

Scotia Group is reporting major breakthrough in customers switching much of their banking operations outside the banking halls.
According to the banking group in their report to shareholders, “We continue to simplify our operating model to focus on growing our core businesses, enhancing our digital capabilities, and reducing our structural costs.”
Scotia stated that “Our digital strategy continues to deliver new milestones as evidenced by a 24 percent increase in the number of mobile banking customers.” mobile, online, ATM and Point of sale continue to grow and now account for more than 85 percent of all transactions as at July. The banking group is reporting lower operating cost and fee income as a result of the switch.
The sharp fall in branch transactions come against and 7 percent increase in total to $535 billion over assets on the books in July 2017.

Sharp out Noel in at Scotia Jamaica

Change at Scotia Group top slot.

Scotia Group (SGJL) announced that Jackie Sharp, President and Chief Executive Officer and Head of Caribbean Central and North, will be leaving to join her family business, effective October 31.
In August 2013, the group appointed Sharp as its first female president and CEO, effective September of that year. Sharp was also appointed a director of the SGJ and the Bank of Nova Scotia Jamaica.
As CEO it not only marked the first female to be appointed to that post but the first person who did not have an early career start in the bank to make it to the top executive post, her rise is sharp indeed, taking a mere 15 years after joining the bank. The resignation brings her career at the financial group to 20 years.

Jacqueline Sharp

According to the release from the group, Jackie Sharp joined the group in 1997 as a Management Trainee and held a number of key positions including Private Banking, Insurance, and Finance, before assuming the Country Head role, and most recently Head of Scotiabank’s Caribbean Central and North covering Jamaica, Bahamas, Cayman, Belize, British Virgin Islands and Turks and Caicos Islands.
“Jackie has made significant contributions to Scotiabank and the community over the years, achieving strong financial results while becoming one of the most respected leaders in the financial sector in Jamaica and the Caribbean”, said Brendan King, Senior Vice President, International Banking, Scotiabank. “We are very grateful for her dedication, consummate leadership and passion over many years at the Bank, and wish her well in her new endeavours as she joins her family business in Jamaica.”
In the first year of her reign Scotia Group Jamaica reported a fall of $774 million or 7 percent in net income to $10.1 billion for the year ended October 2014. Profit rose 14 profit to $11.6 billion for the 2016 year from $10.1 billion in 2015.
Scotia’s closest competitor on the other hand for the year to September 2014 enjoyed a 36 percent, or $3.1 billion increase to $11.6 billion and made profit of $14.4 billion in 2016 versus $12.3 billion in 2015 for a rise of 17.5 percent.

David Noel

Scotia results for six months to April showed profit up 14 percent to $5.7 billion while NCB grew 58 percent to $9.5 billion.
Sharp is being replaced by David Noel as President and Chief Executive Officer, and Head of the Caribbean Central and North regions. Noel joined Scotiabank in Jamaica in 2001 as Legal Counsel before moving to Canada in 2008 on a leadership development rotation in Toronto.
In 2010, he took on the role of District Vice President for East New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. He returned to Toronto in 2012 where he worked in Global Risk Management. In 2013 he was appointed Managing Director, Caribbean East, leading the Bank’s operations in Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean. In November 2016, he was appointed Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the Scotia Group with responsibility for the subsidiary units, including retail and commercial banking, life insurance, investment management and brokerage, micro-finance and mortgages.