Trinidad & Tobago is a small yet rich
country where three relatively large banks compete fiercely for
leadership. Yet from the depths of bankruptcy and restructuring
almost a decade ago, state-owned First Citizens Bank,
Trinidad's fourth-largest bank, has begun to drive a wedge
between its bigger competitors. Focusing on customer service
and a high-end client base, First Citizens has enjoyed a
five-year growth streak. Larry Howai, chief executive officer
of First Citizens, says, "We have experienced considerable
growth in our business since, as our competitors become larger
and larger, they cannot provide the level of customer service
and personalization that we can." The bank's return on assets
has increased steadily over the years to 2.1% in fiscal 2002
from 1.47% in 2001 and 1.34% in 2000. The Trinidadian
government formed First Citizens in 1993 out of the remains of
three failed banks and today the bank has 22...
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