The Bahamas Financial Services Board (BFSB) has announced the winner of its 2007 Financial Services Development & Promotion Award: It is **Commonwealth Bank Limited.**

The Bank, since its inception as a Bahamian owned Bank in 1984, stands as a testament to the Bahamian spirit and resolve and has remained steadfast in its commitment to be the “First Choice of Bahamians” for all Banking Services. Commonwealth Bank Ltd. is now the largest wholly owned Bahamian Clearing Bank in the Commonwealth of The Bahamas as measured by assets and market capitalization and is the first wholly owned Bahamian Clearing Bank to surpass $1 Billion in Total Assets.

In 2006, Commonwealth Bank Ltd. was once again able to achieve its significant financial objectives while continuing to expand the breadth and depth of its products and services to Bahamians. For the 10th consecutive year the Bank recorded double digit growth in all areas of its operations which contributed to a similar pattern of profitability. What is equally important is that more and more individual Bahamian investors have become increasingly aware of the contribution the Bank is making to individual Bahamians as well as the overall Bahamian economy. Once again, individual Bahamian investors were able to participate materially in the success of the Bank through the increase in dividends to shareholders which in 2006 increased an additional 51.1% over 2005.

Success in the financial services industry cannot be dependent upon continued growth and expansion alone. The growth and expansion must be accompanied by an effective and transparent corporate governance regime, in-depth risk management process and an overriding concern for the maintenance of an effective and sustainable process of control. Through an exceptional degree of reporting transparency, which has been acknowledged by financial analysts and knowledgeable stakeholders, the Bank has provided a model for reporting for other industry participants. The Bank’s Annual Report which is available to all Bahamians and other interested stakeholder outlines the Bank’s Corporate Governance regime, its achievement against strategic priorities, and provides confirmation by the Board of Directors that the Bank is operating in a safe and sound manner. Commonwealth Bank Ltd. in its Annual Report also compares the Bank’s operations to international “best practices” which ultimately reflects favorably on the industry at large in The Bahamas, and ultimately augers well for the continuing growth and further development of the industry in The Bahamas.

Commonwealth Bank Ltd.’s commitment to Bahamians has and remains inextricably intertwined with an intense strategic focus on value creation. Value creation has not been limited to monetary returns. Every employee in any capacity understands and has been motivated to do “what is right” in order to further the development of the Bank and the financial services industry, as well as to contribute to the ongoing development of the youth of The Bahamas. The Bank has also been a leader in willingly assisting in a positive way various community activities needs as well as being ready to contribute to any unforeseen adverse situations should they occur within The Bahamas.
The true drivers of growth and success of the Financial Services industry in The Bahamas are the individuals that deliver the financial products and services to Bahamians. The support and reinforcement of the Bank’s mission and core values sets it apart from the rest. Commonwealth Bank has and continues to focus on the development of Bahamians and operates without the need for work permits for any of its staff. The Bank continues to provide exposure for staff to offshore as well as local training and education opportunities, to ensure that a sustainable succession plan and resource base of Bahamians exists to support the growth and expansion of not only the Bank but also the financial services industry in The Bahamas.

With this annual award, BFSB recognises a firm or individual for any entrepreneurial undertaking(s) promoting the viability and strength of the sector. This can include, but is not limited to, new business expansion, the creation of niche markets, or the development of new marketing efficiencies. Also included in this category are financial services “ambassadors” who regularly promote the industry through seminar/conference participation, international editorial placements, and travel generally.

The award was presented at BFSB’s 7th annual FSI **Industry Excellence Awards Banquet** on Saturday, October 27th.

Also announced at that time were the winners in four other categories:

• Executive of the Year: **Brian M. Moree**, Senior Partner, McKinney, Bancroft & Hughes

• Professional of the Year: **Barbara Ferguson**, Assistant Manager, Account Investigations & Fraud, Credit Card Centre, RBC Royal Bank of Canada

• Achiever of the Year: **Marvin Nairn**, Senior Trust Service Officer, Cititrust (Bahamas) Limited

• FSI Student of the Year: **La’Nelle Deleveaux**, COB Graduate, now a Staff Accountant at Ernst & Young.

The Industry Excellence Awards programme is an integral component of BFSB’s Financial Centre Focus (FCF) outreach, launched some seven years ago in collaboration with the Professional Industry Associations. FCF is designed to facilitate the growth and development of the financial services industry by raising the profile of key components considered essential for the continued success of The Bahamas as an international financial services centre.

The focus of FCF’s ongoing public education and awareness programmes includes:

• Developments in the industry – Telling the Story

• The importance of high service standards

• Enhancing relationships between the financial services industry and the community

• Profiling Role Models

Through these initiatives, BFSB and the Industry Associations hope to attract focused and qualified young Bahamians to the sector; promote continued training of industry professionals; and encourage all industry participants to keep abreast of changes in the sector.