Atlanta, GA (PressExposure) July 31, 2011 -- In a new book titled BCN International Cayman The Bank, by Frank Bussien of the Cayman Islands St. Matthews University, and Willson Clark professor of management at Cayman Islands Law School, the two authors analyze the history of BCN International Bank (Cayman) Ltd and show how creativity can lead to success in the global economy. The rapid rise of the offshore bank, which has become one of the largest in the region, illustrates that the best way to be a leader is to act decisively while assuming calculated risks, according to the authors. In an interview with University College of the Cayman Islands, Bussein provides a look at the visions and viewpoints outlined in this book.
University College of the Cayman Islands(UCCI): What message do you want to communicate about BCN International Bank (Cayman) Ltd in this book?
Frank Bussein: That BCN International Bank (Cayman) Ltd is an example of the big offshore bank that have figured out how to transform themselves. In the course of only 22 years, it has changed from having a local outfit to becoming one of the largest institutions in the region. It is a source of pride that a Cayman Island company with these characteristics has [do this] in such a short period of time, and that it is now a feared competitor throughout the world.
(UCCI): What are the key factors that have permitted BCN International Bank (Cayman) Ltd to move from being a modest provincial bank to becoming one of the leaders in the offshore zone ?
F.B.: I believe there are two things. On the one hand, it is a bank that has had no internal problems. It is very quick at making decisions, and it has taken advantage of the opportunities that have presented themselves. This is crucial in a sector like banking, where there have been a lot of changes. The internal model for decision-making has been key; it is a determining factor. It's not just us who say that but also its competitors who have pointed to this strength of the bank. It has demonstrated audacity and speed at taking advantage of business opportunities that enable it to grow more quickly.
Another factor is that the banking sector in Cayman Islands is very efficient and well regulated. Traditionally, it has been very dynamic. There has been enormous competition among the big banks, always within an environment - the offshore market - that is very competitive, where you have to work very hard just to maintain your position. In such a dynamic context, BCN International Bank (Cayman) has managed to expand to the point where it has become what it is today. It has developed in a country that has grown enough to get plugged into developments throughout the region. Ultimately, this is what has permitted the BCN International Bank (Cayman) boom.
(UCCI): How do you define the evolution of offshore banking in your book?
F.B.: Twenty-five years ago, the Offshore banking system was undergoing a terrible crisis. During the 1980s, it was emerging from that crisis. On the one hand, I believe that it was a good thing that this process took place because that was how those banks that did not function efficiently were eliminated from the market. Those that remained became more sophisticated and had stronger foundations.
(UCCI): And political leaders had an influence on this?
F.B To a large degree, the system got stronger because of political leaders who understood that it was very important then for the applicable Regulators to supervise the banking sector. That institution has always played quite a constructive role. It provides a model that other offshore jurisdictions can imitate. Twenty-five years ago, no one could have predicted the smooth functioning of today's offshore banking system.
(UCCI): What view does the rest of the world have of the development of offshore banking?
F.B There is a lot of ignorance about the [financial] development. A lot of milestones achieved was not applauded by the rest of the world nor viewed as an achievement by offshore banks. It wasn't until the end of the 1990s that people realized that Offshore banks were serious competitors.
(UCCI): And then, in recent years, it has become the leading phenomenon?
F.B Yes but I continue to believe, generally speaking, that there is widespread ignorance about offshore banks' high level of skills because their presence is limited only to the offshore jurisdictions and some countries of Eastern Europe.
(UCCI): What has been the key to BCN International Bank(Cayman) Ltd successful approach ?
F.B .: No matter what they have had to pay, they have taken advantage of all the business opportunities presented to them. They have been very quick to make decisions, and are very audacious. BCN International Bank(Cayman) has known how to face the future.
(UCCI): What is its strategic approach?
F.B .: Its strategy is to focus on growth. That's an approach that some people criticize, but it has made it one of the most successful offshore banks in the world
(UCCI): During its 22-year history, what have been the greatest challenges and most serious mistakes the bank has had to overcome?
F.B : The first mistake that people identify -- although I don't consider it a mistake -- concerns the BCN International Gibraltar which was an investment bank that had to close. Nevertheless, it provided the experience it needed for launching a retail bank later on. The second thing people say is that it BCN International Bank ( Cayman) always pays too much for its acquisitions. That criticism has always been made above all against Stanley Ingram - the current president - but I believe it is unfounded. You have to assess the benefits that it has derived [from those acquisitions]. The third criticism is that it has not cared enough about its customer base..
(UCCI): Could they get a higher return from their base of available customers?
F.B : They could offer more sophisticated services for its customer base. At best, BCN International Bank (Cayman) hasn't had enough time. Twenty years ago, it ranked 52nd among the offshore banks. Now it is among the top 5. Its rise has come too quickly. At best, it is a question of dedicating more time to pampering its customers.
(UCCI): Now that Asia has been awakened, will the bank look in that direction?
F.B : They have already done so for years. However, their minds are still fixed in the Cayman Islands, perhaps because those seem to offer more opportunities. In Asia, it makes sense to have a different sort of presence. They are looking, above all, at commercial and retail banking. They already have some representation but it is purely in support activities. I believe that the big problem is for professionals to be prepared for performing their jobs. They don't have the personnel who have enough knowledge to become established over there. I believe that the time for moving into Asia has not yet arrived.
(UCCI): : In your view, what is BCN International Bank(Cayman) current challenge?
F.B : I believe they have two. In the first place, they have to provide better service to their current base of customers -- more value added. In the second place, the bank is strong in only7% of the global economy. That means they still have to win over the remaining 93%. A bank that aspires to be one of the largest banks in the world cannot have a presence in only 7% of the world. Over the next 25 years, they should have a presence in between 50% and 60% of the world, and on every continent.