Windward Islands Bank officially opens new financial center – Governor Holiday: WIB is synonymous with St. Maarten’s successPOSTED: 06/27/13 3:40 PM
St. Maarten – It was an evening of nostalgia and confidence as the guest speakers at the grand opening of the Windward Islands Bank’s sleek new financial center remembered the bank’s, and the island’s, humble beginnings and its promising future. Before the founding of WIB, “many people kept their money under their mattresses,” said Governor Eugene Holiday. “Most people today have no clue what it was like (on St. Maarten) when the bank opened in 1960.” He asked the large crowd assembled in the Clem Labega square “to consider the significance of this moment.” It was a night, he said, to “celebrate the renewal of the oldest banking institute on St. Maarten.” He pointed out that the mattresses eventually made way for a variety of accounts and online banking today.
He praised the pioneering efforts of the late Cyrus W Wathey and Lionel “Shon” Capriles, who are “probably smiling.” It is because of those efforts, a solid “foundation was laid to create a center of opportunity for many locals.” The governor even reminisced that when he was a graduate in economics he approached the late Victor Henriquez about a potential role at WIB some 20 years ago. At 52 years, “WIB is synonymous with St. Maarten’s unprecedented growth and success,” he said, “it is my hope that existing businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs draw inspiration” from the bank.
Prime Minister Sarah Wescott-Williams said that by expanding, the bank “did the right thing, at the right time, on the right island.” The prime minister said she was “happy to know that a part of the new building was dedicated to training new employees,” further adding that it was “a good thing and something that should be applauded.” The decision to expand, of course, came at a difficult economic time, not only on St. Maarten but in the world. But WIB showed a remarkable “confidence in the government and people of St. Maarten” and it was “repaying the people with better accommodations.” St. Maarten, she said, has been “good at filling moulds,” but “it is expected of us to pick up the challenge and make our own mould.” Both economically and socially, “we are going to face challenging times going forward.” Nevertheless, “WIB has been a good partner in these discussions.”
“While other businesses have moved out,” said Maduro Curiels Bank President and CEO, Lionel “Chicu” Capriles II, “WIB showed a continued commitment to downtown Philipsburg.” He confirmed WIB as a true partner for St. Maarten, and was especially proud that the bank has “the largest and most reliable point of sale credit card system on the island,” pointing out the over ninety thousand customers and having over 50% of the island’s total savings accounts. He wished outgoing Managing Director Jan Beaujon a fond farewell, saying he “will miss him.”He also thanked the efforts of Assistant Managing Director Kelvin Bloyden and Omar Russell for their hard work in making the new building possible.
“53 years ago, when the WIB was established, I was one of the little boys peeping through the window,” wondering what was going on outgoing Managing Director Jan Beaujon said. Back then, “I had no idea I’d become managing director of the bank.” He proudly stated that “the bank brought the island forward because of its services.” In the beginning, people on the island had to be taught how to write checks, he said. The bank was one of the reasons why the first major businesses on Front Street were able to open, because a financial system was put in place. He said the WIB was always a pioneer, launching a number of “firsts” for the island. It was the “first bank to offer a guilder ATM.” And also “the first with a dual currency ATM,” that offered transactions in both guilders and dollars. The expansion of the bank was necessary, he said, because “the old square box had become too small.” The training center was something he was especially proud of, because the bank could “create better things on the spot.” Being a seaman, he said a “good captain looks to the sky, to the sea, and to the wind to know what is going on,” not just relying on all the new modern electronics systems. His successors, in other words, must not lose sight of the essentials that made the bank such a success.
The evening was punctuated with dancing and singing, including a performance from the bank’s own choir made up of WIB staff, the WIB Choral Group, who sang a song called “Reach.”
From all indications, it is clear that WIB has a sound succession policy, carefully selecting its top management to ensure the banks continued success and growth.