First Citizens Bank

For the bank headquartered in Raleigh, North Carolina, see First Citizens BancShares. For the bank headquartered in Columbia, South Carolina, see First Citizens Bank of South Carolina.
First Citizens
Type Public company
Industry Bank
Founded 1993 Trinidad and Tobago
Headquarters Port of Spain, Trinidad and Tobago
Products Financial services

First Citizens is a bank based in Trinidad and Tobago. First Citizens has assets of over TT$31 billion, 21 branches in Trinidad and three in Tobago. It wholly owns First Citizens (St. Lucia) Limited, which it established as an offshore financial vehicle for the Bank and its subsidiaries and also to conduct selected banking and financial service operations in the Caribbean Region.


The Birth of First Citizens Bank

On September 13, 1993 the Central Bank of Trinidad and Tobago merged three government-owned entities, National Commercial Bank (NCB), the Trinidad Co-operative Bank (TCB), and the Workers' Bank to form First Citizens Bank.

  • NCB formally commenced business in 1970. Bank of Montreal sold its branch and operations in Trinidad and Tobago, which it had acquired from Bank of London and Montreal, to the government, which used the acquisition as the foundation for National Commercial Bank. National Commercial Bank was the first truly locally owned, controlled and operated commercial bank in Trinidad and Tobago. It eventually grew its branch network to cover the entire country.
  • TCB, founded in 1914 as a co-operative savings and loans institution, pioneered the provision of consumer finance and home mortgages for the then working-class of Port of Spain.
  • Workers Bank, which commenced operations in 1971, had its roots in the trade union and credit union movements, and helped develop the home mortgage market.

In a strange twist of fate, all three institutions ran into severe financial difficulties to varying degrees between 1986 and 1992 resulting in a Government takeover of all three entities. In what was considered a bold, even absurd move, in 1993 the Government of Trinidad and Tobago merged all three banks into one, and First Citizens Bank was born.

The Early Years

Given the history of the previous three entities, not many people gave First Citizens Bank much hope of survival and felt that it was only a matter of time before the institution folded. However, by its first birthday, the Bank was able to declare a consolidated profit and had reduced the loan portfolio in arrears to 33% by August 1994 (it had been 62% in September 1993). Other significant initiatives in its early years were:

  • The Bank pioneered the Visa Gold International Credit Card and implemented the first phase of an information technology system which would push the Bank ahead in customer service.
  • Despite the internal troubles, the Bank was making progress. The operating income of the group grew, all 24 ATM machines were replaced, the Bank introduced the country’s only real-time corporate cash management system (MIDAS) and eight branches were renovated and the staff complement was reduced from 1300 to 950.
  • In 1996, against the backdrop of a growing economy, the Bank continued to improve in performance. In 1995 it made a loss of $11M and in 1996 it made a profit of $18M. In 1997 the figure was $40M. In the public’s mind however, First Citizens was the Bank that had been created from three failed institutions. In 1997 the Bank underwent a transformation program to overhaul its management procedures and culture.
  • Between 1996 and 2003 the Bank increased its profits from $40M to $233M, dramatically reduced its non-performing loan portfolio, slashed overhead ratios, pioneered and upgraded electronic technology and gained international accolades. Step by step, management rebuilt and strengthened the organisation. After 10 years, the Bank had doubled its asset base to US$1B and grown its profits by 1000 percent.
  • By 2004, it had overtaken Scotiabank, the third largest Bank in Trinidad and Tobago.In 2006 the Bank had shrunk its non-performing loans to 0.8%, the lowest in the sector.
  • In May 2012, Butterfield Bank announced that it reached an agreement to sell its wholly owned Barbados subsidiary, Butterfield Bank (Barbados) Limited, to First Citizens Bank. Pending regulatory approval, the sale is expected to be finalized in the third quarter of 2012.

First Citizens Group

Established in 1993, the First Citizens Group comprises:

  • First Citizens Bank Limited
  • First Citizens Asset Management Limited
  • First Citizens Trustee Services Limited
  • First Citizens (St. Lucia) Limited
  • First Citizens Financial Services (St. Lucia) Limited
  • First Citizens Securities Trading Limited
  • First Citizens Investment Services Limited
  • First Citizens Investment Services (Barbados) Limited

The First Citizens Asset Management team manages a range of mutual funds and several major pension fund plans, with funds under management at approximately $11.1 billion. Another subsidiary, the Trustee Services Company increased its revenue generating capability and also increased its fee income from $21.0 million in 2010 to $22.3 million in 2011.


For the financial year ended September 30th 2011, the First Citizens Group showed an increase in profit after tax of $718.2 million. The Group’s Asset base increased from $29.5 billion to $31.2 billion and in spite of the general deceleration in the local economy, the Group’s gross loan base grew from $8.8 billion to $9.0 billion. In the year under review the Group successfully issued a US$175 million bond on the international capital market which was significantly oversubscribed. Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s also re-affirmed First Citizens investment grade ratings of BBB+/A2 and Baa1/A1 respectively.



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