At its regular meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 17, the Virgin Islands Banking Board received reports from each of the territory’s banks, with all reports showing robust growth and other features that bode well for the economy of the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Acting Governor Tregenza A. Roach Esq., who also serves as the chairman of the Virgin Islands Banking Board, convened the meeting virtually in adherence to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines regarding social distancing.
Board members Rosalie Javois and Richard Grant, Acting Finance Commissioner Clarina Modeste-Elliot, representatives of each of the territory’s banks, and staff from the Division of Banking, Insurance and Financial Regulation participated in the meeting.
Senior bank officials from Banco Popular, Bank of St. Croix, FirstBank, Merchants Commercial Bank, Oriental Bank and the Economic Development Bank all provided operational updates and information relevant to customer service. Each bank highlighted its implemented COVID-19 protocols and presented a favorable outlook regarding economic growth and operations.
“Despite the ongoing pandemic, the state of the bank reports presented to the board painted a positive and progressive picture regarding financial services and profitable portfolio growth. It was assuring for the board to hear of the advancements of each bank. Notwithstanding the current economic climate, all banks shared overwhelmingly optimistic views on their future operations and revenues,” said Roach.
“From the standpoint of our economy and the need for strong financial services providers, I was heartened to hear that one of our banks had its most profitable year since 2006,” said Roach.
However, as part of FirstBank’s report, the board did receive the bank’s decision to consolidate its operations by closing three branches across the territory and distributing its customers to the remaining branches.
The bank addressed board concerns about employee retention and customer service by assuring board members that no employee would lose a position as a result of this action and that the three branches East End Plaza, Crown Bay and King Street had already been closed for varying periods of seven to 11 months throughout the course of the pandemic.
Customers of these locations will be transferred to neighboring FirstBank locations upon the official closure of the three branches. Tentative dates of closure are May 28 for the Crown Bay Branch and June 25 for the East End Plaza and King Street branches.
Crown Bay Branch customers will be transferred to the Waterfront Branch, East End Plaza customers will be transferred to the FirstBank Plaza Branch, and King Street branch customers will be transferred to the Orange Grove branch. The bank is required to notify customers of this change by Feb. 26.
“Financial product offerings and customer service, employee support, and the efficiency of operations at the territory’s banks will always serve as priority areas for the banking board. Today’s State of the Bank reports were well received and provided board members with forecasted projections that can benefit the territory’s financial services market,” said Roach.
For more information, contact the Division of Banking, Insurance and Financial Regulation on St. Croix at 773-6449 or 774-2991 on St. Thomas.