ISSUE 24 – Article 1

April 23, 2020



Even before the advent of Y2K, there was great excitement about the year ‘2020’ and all the symbolism that such a number holds. Indeed, the very idea of the Trinidad and Tobago International Financial Centre (T&T IFC) was part of the then ‘Vision 2020’, now ‘Vision 2030’, national development plan for Trinidad and Tobago’s (T&T’s) economic and social transformation. With the Fourth Industrial Age upon us and the continued rapid movement toward digital convergence, the T&T IFC planned a series of strategic initiatives to coincide with the new year and the second quarter, in furtherance of our ongoing efforts to attract investment in the F&A BPO sector, and develop the local financial services ecosystem.

Having refreshed our brand, after completing a 2019 Market Intelligence survey, the T&T IFC continued its international investor outreach with participation in the IAOP’s Outsourcing World Summit 2.0 (OWS) conference in February, where we hosted an ‘Education Leadership Session’ for potential investors. This interactive discussion allowed us to position T&T as a prime location for nearshoring F&A BPO, and included representation by Ms. Angela Lee Loy (CEO, Aegis Business Solutions) and Paul Anselmo (CEO, Evolve Mortgage Services) who provided first-hand endorsements of T&T’s value proposition from the perspectives of a domestic and foreign BPO investor respectively. Attendees left with a genuine appreciation that T&T was worth serious consideration given our potential to add value to their operations from both a cost and talent position. We are very grateful to have the support of our partners, Aegis and Evolve, whose third-party views go a long way in validating our message.

At the same time, chief among our initiatives is the development of the FinTech Association of Trinidad and Tobago (FinTech TT). This is one of the key pillars of the ‘FinTech Roadmap’ for Trinidad and Tobago, which is a strategic plan created by the T&T IFC for the country to become a FinTech-enabled Financial Services Hub.

FinTech TT’s role is to promote and develop a local FinTech industry by bringing together FinTech stakeholders and creating a collective voice for the said industry to (a) facilitate collaboration between market participants; (b) provide a platform for members to engage with agencies of the Government of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago and other key stakeholders; and (c) to share ideas, solve problems, promote best practices, network and shape the future of the industry.

It was officially launched in February with the full support of the Ministers of Finance (the Hon. Colm Imbert), and Public Administration (Sen. the Hon. Allyson West), and a wide cross-section of stakeholders – many of whom serve on the Interim Management Committee. The theme of FinTech TT’s launch was ‘Cashless Carnival’, as our largest national festival offered the perfect case study for the application of FinTech, given Carnival’s wide intersectionality and need for enhanced convenience, financial inclusion and safety.

It is very ironic that at the same time we were positioning the benefits of greater application of technology in our lives, the world has been thrown the novel coronavirus COVID-19 curveball. While relatively many companies and government agencies, ourselves included, have been able to respond quickly given our business continuity plan (BCP) and existing technology, there are still several gaps in the financial services ecosystem that have been highlighted by this pandemic. This may not have been the start of 2020 that we had all envisioned, but it can still be the start of a new paradigm for T&T.

In this regard, the T&T IFC now, more than ever, is emboldened to achieve its mandate. If we can do this, not only can we close these gaps, but also help T&T become immune to harsh global knock-on impacts that pandemics, trade wars, natural disasters and other major shifts can cause.

Yes, this is a time of disruption, which brings uncertainty about the future and stretches our relationships and resilience. We must get into a ‘disruption mindset’; establish structures; ensure we are open and transparent; communicate effectively; and at the same time identify the opportunities that will help rebuild us. Our innate ingenuity, creativity and innovativeness will see us through. We are already reviewing our strategic plans to identify ways in which we can add even more value to the economic transformation of the nation, as we all must do our part to overcome the challenges that we as a country are faced with.

As CEO of the T&T IFC, I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge the foresight of the Board, which ensured we had the necessary BCP and structures in place to facilitate a seamless transition to new working arrangements. I also express gratitude to the management and professional teams who activated the plan and have maintained their high levels of customer focus and delivery in these trying times.

To the rest of T&T, I encourage everyone to practise the guidance being given to us, which will help ‘flatten the curve’, and be empathetic, patient and strong. Our thoughts go out to all those directly impacted, and we find some consolation in our motto, for, if we aspire together, we can indeed achieve – together.