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The banking industry in Trinidad and Tobago has somewhat changed in the past few years. This resulted in the entry of some banks and the re-entry of others. This paper strategically analyses the current strategic position of one of the major banks, First Citizens (FC). First Citizens Bank is a member of the First Citizens Group, which consists of:
First Citizens Bank Limited
First Citizens Asset Management Limited
First Citizens Trustee Services Limited
First Citizens (St. Lucia) Limited
First Citizens Securities Trading Limited
Caribbean Money Market Brokers (CMMB)
For the purposes of this paper, First Citizens Bank's current strategies that are being utilised to achieve its goal are critically analysed along with its internal and external environment, which establish the forces that drives change and the key success factors that sustains competitive advantage. All these factors give rise to the SWOT analysis of the bank, which matches the bank resources and capabilities to the competitive environment in which it operates.
FC Bank is the first indigenous bank of Trinidad and Tobago and was formed in 1993 out of the amalgamation of three failed financial institutions namely: The Workers Bank of Trinidad and Tobago 1989 Ltd, Trinidad Co-operative Bank Ltd and The National Commercial Bank Ltd. It is the third largest bank in Trinidad and Tobago and the fastest growing. Over the years, FC Bank has become one of the region's leading and most dynamic financial product and service providers. This position is further strengthened by the acquisition of CMMB one year ago. The leadership's robustness at the bank has championed the industry in technology, innovative product offerings and profitability, which earned them numerous awards, with the most recent being 'World Finance magazine - Best Bank, Trinidad and Tobago 2009'.
2.0 DEFINING THE INDUSTRY
The banking industry is part of the Financial Services Sector, which is highly regulated by the Financial Act of Trinidad and Tobago. The Financial Services industry comprises of credit unions, investment banks, insurance companies, mutual funds etc. All the aforementioned offers similar services as retail banking as per a regular bank, but the Commercial Banking Sector consists of all financial institutions permitted the Financial Services Act and approved by the Central Bank. There are a number of commercial banks approved by the Central Bank and registered under the act, these include:
First Citizens Bank Limited
Republic Bank limited (RBL)
Royal Bank of Trinidad and Tobago (RBTT)
Citibank (Trinidad and Tobago) Limited
First Caribbean International Bank
Bank of Baroda
For the purpose of this paper, this would be defined as the industry and would be the basis on which analysis is made.
3.0 ORGANIZATIONAL FRAMEWORK
3.1 Vision, Mission and Objectives of First Citizens
First Citizens' vision is "To become the most competitive group in Trinidad and Tobago with a well established international presence." While the mission is "to build a highly profitable financial services franchise renowned for innovativeness, service excellence and sound corporate governance." To achieve the aim FC focuses on continuous improvement of systems and products, building a strong base of knowledge and skilled workers and creating strategic partnerships in key sectors that add value to the franchise.
The mission is underpinned by the core values, which assist the employees in the achievement of the mission. The core values are:
Commitment to excellence
Commitment to customers
Commitment to integrity
Commitment to financial strength
Commitment to employees
Commitment to continuous improvement
The main objective of the bank is to improve profitability with a major focus on its return on equity. The main objective is supported by secondary objectives, which are:
Leveraging Technology to create confidence in the bank's systems and procedure
Reducing overheads costs while simultaneously increasing revenues
Aggressively increasing assets, loans and fund base
Widening the range of products and services primarily in the area of internet and mobile (electronic) banking
Improving First Citizens' risk management
Improving the Group's image and service quality
Deepening the human resource competence
These objectives are quantified using the balance scorecard, which sets specific targets needed to be achieved in order to achieve the organisation's objectives. In order to achieve the objectives, each branch manager, department and unit is required to produce a balanced score card, which eventually sums to the overall directional scorecard.
In order for the vision, mission and objectives of FC to become operational strategies must be implemented. Figure shows the alignment of First Citizens' strategies with its vision. The use of the group's balance has made strategy making and organisational coordination reflect the top-down manner in which strategy is developed and communicated. The banks' existing strategies is summarised using Ansoff's Directional Matrix (see figure).
From the Directional Matrix, FC Bank's diversification strategy exemplifies the Bank's thrust into a wider and more competitive industry. This is indicates that boundaries that separate traditional banking from other type of financial services are being eliminated, this is also an indicator of the industry in its maturity stage (indicated in a later chapter). Although the strategy is that of diversification it involves a broad market scope. The strategy involves leveraging technology to provide excellent customer service especially since FC is always first to market. It is the technological advancement, that is the bank's core competency and some features (mobile point of sale) gives it its distinctive capability.
4.0 THE DYNAMICS OF THE EXTERNAL ENVIRONMENT
All organizations are inextricably associated with its external environment, regardless of the country to which it belongs. This association influences how the organization operates and the products or services provided. The external forces may facilitate or inhibit organizational performance and may form limits with which the organization is able to function. These forces shape how the organization defines itself and how it articulates its goals, objectives and strategies. An analysis of the external environment assists in understanding the forces or factors that shape the organization.
4.1 PEST Analysis
PEST analyses the external macro-environment in which an organization operates, based on political, economical, social and technological factors. These factors are beyond the control of the organization but must be considered in formulating the strategies of the organization.
PEST Analysis for First Citizens
The Political climate of Trinidad and Tobago has remained quite stable over the past twenty years. This has led to implementation of legislations that improved efficiency and reduced costs (banking fees) in the Banking sector, but have also reduced margins and fee income. The latest legislation implemented is the Anti-money Laundering legislation, in which most of the countries in this region is adopting. This law has sought to increase the transparency of banks and attempts to lower the credit risks of the country in which the bill is implemented. The banking industry over the years has dynamically evolved; this evolution has led to the opening of the banking industry (regionally) or relaxation of entry requirement for large foreign banks, for example, the entry of the Bank of Baroda. This has led to further diversification of the banking sector that inevitably breeds competition. However, although competition creates innovation, this threatens the profitability of the current banks in the market as larger more capitalized banks can undercut the local banks and decrease their market size. These foreign banks operate as loss leaders to steal market share and further diminution opportunity in an already saturated market. As a result, in recent years there have been re-entry of banks into the sector e.g. First Caribbean International Bank (FCIB). Furthermore, FC is owned the government which suggest that there is slow decision making in the organization however, the government can be the main borrower on the market.
The world's economy, over the past two years, has experienced a downturn, which saw many countries GDP decline that resulted in declaration of recession and the plummet of oil prices, which adversely affected the banking industry of most countries. However, all indicators point towards improvement in the economy though it may be slow. The effects of the economy has led to banks reducing interest rates and fees in order to reduce the amount of loan defaults and increase economic activity in an attempt to boost the economy. The improvement of the economy will see commodity prices improving which will increase revenues and economic activity, which will impart a greater potential for lending and borrowing by banks. However, there is a risk of returning to inflationary pressures with accompanying increasing interest rates. The mal-effects of the downturn has led to increased unemployment which increased loan defaults, however there have been some refinancing of loans in an attempt to reduce defaults. According to the Central Bank Governor, in the business section of the Guardian Newspaper, if the economic growth is slower than in the past, banking institution will be forced to consolidate to achieve economies of scale. This reduces competition in an industry, in which competition breeds innovation and
Socially, crime is considered a two edged sword since it creates an opportunity for banks to finance security companies; however, it has led to the exit of many business owners and thus capital. A high crime rate can harm the country's foreign direct investment (FDI) opportunities and by extension tourism. As the country is developing, one would find that people are being more educated and customers are demanding better quality and quantity service; people are intolerant of poor customer service and lack of advancement in the banking industry. It is foreseen that, if the issue of crime is not addressed that there would be further flight of capital, decrease in FDIs and tourism. In addition, if banks do not progress with technology, there would a flight of customers to the substitutes in the market.
The banking industry has fully embraced technology, which has revolutionised the sector. The technological advancement by banks has empowered customers so that they control their financial information with greater access. This has also led to the creation of high exit barriers. However, not all customers may embrace these technological progresses and prefer the traditional banking services. If this progression continues at the current pace, the industry will be highly serviced and product innovated. However, customer must make greater use of these technological advancement as with mobile telephony if the industry is to be further product/service diversified.
4.2 Industry Analysis for First Citizens
The industry analysis aids in the determination of factors that determines the banking industry profitability. Porter's Five Forces Analysis is an assessment that is used to understand the current competitive position and the future attractiveness of the industry, this is seen in figure.
The threat of substitute is numerous and includes companies that offer financial services such as insurance companies, Unit Trust Corporation, Island Finance, investment banks, credit unions etc. Some non-financial institutions such as furniture stores and car dealerships are also threats since they offer credit. These substitutes offer similar service and products without the regulatory requirements of banks, which makes their process faster than banks. These substitutes have encroached on the banking industry profitability, however, with the recent downturn of the economy, customers have returned to banks since it is perceived to be more stable. In addition, to nullify the threat of substitutes and sustain the industry's profitability banks have also formed alliances with other financial institutions.
The bargaining power of customers is medium but increasing as a result of a wide variety of substitutes, similarity of products and lower customer loyalty (due to logistics). However, it is counteracted by high switching costs caused by the time and inconvenience of transferring accounts to other financial institutions and a large number of customers. It is perceived, however, that the advanced technology and the increasing number of substitutes, have reduced switching costs, this is true to some extent, example retail deposits but in terms of loans, corporate deposits etc. the switching cost is high.
The bargaining power of suppliers is also medium and increasing. Although there are a large number of suppliers for general resources, there are a small number of suppliers for the critical resources of banks, for example, ABMs, system applications, money counter etc. which makes switching arduous and time-consuming.
From the PEST analysis, it seen that the banking industry's market is more opened and there is a relaxation of requirements. This results in the threat of new entrants being medium to high and is expected to intensify if there is further dismantling of barriers/requirement. Consequently, it is easier for a large foreign institution to enter into the market, example, the acquisition of RBTT by RBC and the entry of Bank of Baroda, these institution will with have the necessary capital investments and brand recognition to do so. However, for a local institution it is harder because of the high brand building expenditure and extremely high capital investment. This threat is somewhat counteracted by high exit barriers and high switching costs. The banking industry presently has a saturated market and one would find that is difficult to gain market share to become profitable thus, entrants are focused on a niche market segment. Furthermore, these entrants are large enough to operate as loss leaders.
The above four factors that shape strategy, collapse into rivalry amongst existing competitors (as seen in figure). The fact that the banking industry exhibits oligopolistic cooperation in order to maximize profit, lower cost and maintain status quo, is another indicator of maturity. Examples of this type of cooperation are:
Establishing a code of conduct in which all banks must adhere when dealing with customers
Technological sharing of networks e.g. linx to facilitate ATM transactions.
Offering of similar interest rates and products
In addition, banks have to form strategic alliances in order to counteract substitutes to improve the value system e.g. insurance companies and mutual funds.
An analysis of the existing competitive rivalry is restricted to four banks. These competitors are identified using Porter's strategic group analysis (see figure).
From figure, competitors in First Citizens' market scope operate in the same segment and offer similar type products. These banks collaborate to protect the profitability of the industry, especially in the area of interest rates, customer service quality and non-competitive processes. The prediction of the competitor environment can be analysed using Grant's Framework for competitor analysis, this can be seen in figure.
4.3 The Industry Life Cycle
From figure, it is seen that the banking industry is in its maturity stage. This can be sustained over an extensive period, in which market share can only be increased by attracting the competitors' customers. In addition, a strategy in the mature banking industry, is the tendency of banks to consolidate e.g. with insurance companies, security companies; acquire or merge e.g. the acquisition of RBTT by RBC and CMMB by FC.
However, banks fight to maintain its market share by creating high exit barriers for its customers. Recently, customers are extremely sensitive to interest rates, therefore in an effort to retain its customers, one would find that banks in the same market segment (figure) would have similar interest rates. For example, if Central Bank decrease the reserve requirement all banks will decrease its rate to match each other. In a stage of maturity, there are areas in which it is more economical to collaborate than to compete, this brings about greater efficiency at a lower cost e.g. Linx, Transunion and Trinidad and Tobago Interbanking payment system (TTIPS).
4.4 Key Success Factors
In order to be successful in the banking industry there are some key factors. These include:
Effective Regulatory Systems
Relevant Products and Services
Competition which breeds greater innovation and by extension efficiency
5.0 THE DYNAMICS OF THE INTERNAL ENVIRONMENT
5.1 Resource Analysis
FC Bank has approximately 1300 staff members and a well-experienced and knowledgeable senior staff. However, succession and service quality is a concern because of the high turnover of junior staff. In recent times, staff members are no longer interested in a job for life, therefore the bank is retooling its processes to incorporate transient staffing arrangement. In addition, the bank has developed a management trainee, corporate resourcing and mentoring programmes for school and university graduates. Leadership competencies, 360 degree feedback and career development programmes are also implemented for junior staff and management.
The bank has a large customer base in excess of 400,000 accounts. Retail banking customers constitute the majority of the customer base. The consequence of this is that it involves higher operating and fixed costs, in addition, to achieve economies of scale both market share and size has to sufficient. Notwithstanding the deposit garnered from these customers, it represents low cost funds to the bank that are then used for lending.
Although customer loyalty generally has improved, they are however flighty and could change base on simple interest rate difference since they are sensitive to this (as discussed in Porter's five forces). Recently, the bank has embarked on work to improve its image and reputation.
FC has intensified its relationship with society in adherence to the adage of Corporate Social responsibility in a very significant way. This is also in adherence to the code of ethics established by the Bankers Association, in which First Citizens bank sponsors events:
Environmental: Citizens in Action to restore the Environment (CARE), which assists in the restoration of the environment. In this regard, internal staff competition are held to widen community interaction and to increase social and environmental awareness (this improves the appearance of the bank).
Youth and Education: Bursaries to Tertiary Institution. The bank engages in developing school libraries and is a major sponsor in junior achievement.
Sports: First Citizens Sport Foundation, which raise awareness through clinics and sport education seminars. It is the sole sponsor of the National Sports Foundation, which deals with sports education, seminars and recognition of achievers in the Hall of Fame and Annual Sports Woman/Man of the Year which honors all the achievers in all sports.
Culture: The banks sponsors programmes in all cultural/religious events such as, Divali Nagar, Eid-ul-Fitr, Tobago Heritage etc.
The bank has twenty-five branches strategically located across the country, with three in Tobago. In addition, an excess of eighty ATM supports these branches, with a vast number of these in off branch locations.
FC bank has the leading edge in online real time banking network and is the leader in Internet Banking technology and communication network. Its Ethernet and communication network, which incorporates both voice and data, also contributes to the bank being considered as a Technology leader. In fact FC has won the South Trinidad Chamber of Commerce Technology Leadership on three occasions in the last five years, an award that has been designed for technology companies. The bank's vast network of ATM and POS machinery provide significant reach to its merchant and customers alike and is fully networked on a local and internal scale. The bank has been able to leverage its technology leadership to enhance value for merchant and customers. This can be gleamed from the merchant e-banking which allows corporate and commercial customers to transact business from their offices (paying bills, salaries, ACH etc.). The value of technology capital is also seen with the implementation of mobile POS, which is significant for distributors and the service sector.
5.2 Value Added
FC Bank's value chain is depicted in figure using Porter's Value Chain analysis. The bank has concentrated mainly on marketing, sales and services. The use of technology has been incorporated to achieve a level of service and convenience to provide value to the customer. The cost to provide such value to the customer is important however, the risk to serving customers is just as important. The critical factors in this value system are the linkages between skills of staff, risk management, information systems, flexible and responsive policies/procedures to add such value.
Information technology is FC bank's core competency especially since they are the leader in this area. FC uses the technological advancement to increase its value chain and to achieve a higher level of customer service than its competitors. Owing to the highly leveraged technology at FC, the level of efficiency, high ratings by customers have been improved, although, the market share has remained stable since the industry is in the mature stage (industry life cycle).
The use of technology is also the bank's distinctive capability, since the bank uses its technology e.g. mobile POS and corporate internet banking, to increase the value chain of its customers. Figure below depicted how elements of FC bank's outbound and marketing logistics becomes incorporated into the customers e.g. restaurants and distributors inbound logistic of their value chain.
Internet banking, mobile POS etc.
First Citizens Bank Value Chain Distributors Value Chain
Restaurants Value chain
Figure showing the connectivity between First Citizens Value Chain and that of its Customers
5.3 McKinsey's 7S
FC bank currently has a bureaucratic (top-down) that does not aid in quick decision-making, which is crucial. Structure is the key to effective execution of strategy. Is the structure does not support strategy in terms of VMOST then the strategy implementation will be difficult. Despite its best efforts to change, the bank structure is still overly bureaucratic.
The bank has to decentralise both vertically along different levels of the organisational hierarchy and horizontally amongst managers and non-managers based on expertise and experience. In doing so, authority and responsibility will remain with those in the position, who possesses the necessary skills to implement decisions, ideally front line staff. Currently, the credit-decision making process is based on limited level authority by staff and the bureaucratic staircase can hinder the effectiveness in the lending/investment process. Simiarly, as a result of Government regulation (Central Bank regulations) and the general risk adverse culture of the bank, several to-down controls exist hindering the smooth processing of intricate transaction. If centre delegating decision-making authority is given to frontline staff e.g. senior management increasing authorisation limits on loans granted by line managers, the processes in the bank will more efficient and less time consuming.
FC bank is a performance-driven learning organisation, therefore all of its systems should be taken into consideration if further development is to occur. The three essential areas are:
Human resource systems
Rewards are based on SMART principle and pre-determined organisation and individual targets. However, the appraisals are based on individual and team performance and are done on a quarterly basis to identify areas foe training and development. In addition, the performance is also measured by balance scorecard with gaps identified to re-prioritise efforts. Human resource records however, are not automated via a modern HRIS system and therefore quick and effective decision-making is negatively affected. To further hasten the decision-making the top-down system needs to be changed to a bottom-up system that integrates the individual and team performance, training and development.
Organisational performance systems
The bank has two models to assess its performance:
The strategic planning model
This evolves from the vision and mission of the bank and long-term strategies are developed for three years on a rolling basis. On an annual basis strategies are reviewed analysed and adjusted as necessary. Three exercises inform the business planning process for the ensuing year and provide key inputs into budgetary allocation which support the execution of the said strategies.
The bank's information system is highly interactive, accurate, accessible and easily interrogable. In spite of the high use of technology customer service staff has not embrace the use of technology to deliver value added. There is high use of the bank's office management system for communication e.g. email and calendaring. However, managers and staff have not grasped the opportunity to use these systems for work flow efficiency e.g. loan origination systems and electronic loan application and credit authorisation.
Style is influences in part by structure. The top-down structure of organisation has bred an elitist atmosphere with different layers of management having varying degrees of power and influence. Managers do not seem to exhibit a supportive role and communication is mostly top down to their support staff. In addition, feedback to employees on performance of organisation is done via newsletters, team briefing and staff meetings.
Generally, the management style is not of a participative nature and this can have negative effects on employees' involvement and satisfaction. There is an over abundance of procedures within the system which leads to an inordinate amount of time and effort spent on administrative processes thus reducing the cycle time for customer service.
Staff development utilises:
Employee assistance programme (EAP)
360 degree for developmental purposes
In addition, the tools used in developing staff are:
Individual development planning
Leadership competencies model - there are seven areas the bank utilise and develop staff; they are customer focus, teamwork, innovation, initiative (getting results), integrity, entrepreneurship and sales and marketing. These are to develop staff in order to develop leadership skills but FC has to create the structure, systems etc. to motivate and encourage employees to develop along these lines.
Multiple skilled employees are essential in a learning and performance driven organisation. The bank is becoming predominantly a sales driven organisation, with risk management and decision-making being critical to its success in the area. Training in developmental programmes in marketing, sales, negotiation and dispute resolution are provided by the bank to further develop skills in these areas. However, the structure of the bank is a barrier to the proper dissemination of skills because of compartmentalisation of information. The bank however, has been a leader in the development of individual staff and expense significant sums on both internal and external training. The education assistance plan provides bank sponsored tertiary education up to and including the masters level for qualifying staff, this facility has benefitted numerous staff members.
Using Johnson and Scholes "Development Strategies" model the direction used by FC bank should be maintained. The bank has focus on identifying market segments and adopted a market penetration and developmental and diversification strategies. These strategies should be suitable, acceptable and feasible to all stakeholders, employees and customers and should be based the bank's outstanding customer service, innovation and its core competency of technology.
However, the bank's strategy of leading customer satisfaction through innovation has seen it derive value from its leadership position from electronic banking including internet, POS and mobile banking.
The confluence of three failed financial institution formed FC Bank, and its phoenix-like resurrection to a pronounced position within the banking industry fraternity in the region and awards won, is a source of pride for the organisation.
6.0 S.W.O.T ANALYSIS
Figure shows the SWOT analysis for FC Bank, based on this and for sustainability of competitive advantage, the following factors are crucial:
Investments for further development of technology since it is ever-evolving especially at the strategic and tactical level to maintain FC as the leader
Quick response time to customers' request to synchronise with industry norms
Strong image/brand and performance driven culture
High degree of flexibility and responsiveness
Improve decision-making capabilities of front line staff and succession planning