Our History

“The Bank was founded by Saint Lucians for Saint Lucians”

– Right Honourable Sir Vincent Floissac

Our History

Rooted in the Soils of Change

It is unfathomable to most that Saint Lucia did not always have its own national bank and that for many, banking, even simple saving of their hard-earned pennies, was a privilege reserved for only a few. From the politically and socially fertile soils of change, the St. Lucia Co-operative Bank Limited opened its doors for business in January 1938, in a humble Mongiraud Street back store. A haven where the savings and investment culture on which nation building would flourish took root.

The names of the first Board of Directors of the Bank will still be familiar to many, for these were men who left an indelible mark on commerce and development of St. Lucia:

  • George Palmer – First President
  • J.B.D. Osbourne – Secretary/Manager
  • Clive Beaubrun
  • J.Q. Charles
  • Joseph Devaux
  • John H. Pilgrim
  • Allen Lewis – Company Solicitor

A Sense of Ownership and Local Partnership

The bank started with a capital of $50,000 made up of shares of $1.00 each. As a small savings and loans organization, the bank stood as a pioneer and innovator, in realizing the potential of seemingly insignificant deposits towards the encouragement of thrift. The first-time depositor was empowered with an incomparable sense of pride upon receipt of their first banking passbook. Even today despite the massive innovations and technological shifts that have advanced our landscape, the passbook remains a symbol of personal empowerment and ownership.

Here…for a Nation

The bank was challenged by the major disaster of the second Castries fire in 1948, dubbed by an 18-year-old Derek Walcott as the “Hot gospeller had levelled all but the churched sky.” The bank was called upon to translate its workers’ pennies into mortgage finance needed for the rebuilding of Castries– the pattern to repeat time and again into its future, as the bank resolutely rose to meet every challenge the nation faced, from crop failure and economic downturn to hurricane devastation.

Growing with us All

The fifties saw the coming of King Banana- the crop which represented an economic and social revolution. That sweet fruit became the principal export and cash earner, bringing a new prosperity to St. Lucia and its soil-turning mavericks. Castries, the capital, hungry for modernity, risen from the ashes of 1948, was on the move! It was to Castries that the new banana farmer came to buy his goods, to do his banking, and the St. Lucia Co-operative bank, the people’s bank, held its own, provided for the banking needs of these new investors, and with them, the bank prospered.

Not for Sale!

During that period 1960 to 1978, the bank expanded and reinvented itself to better meet the needs of its growing customer base. A steady and sustained growth of its asset base and capacity eventually caught the attention of international banking giants who actually made efforts to acquire substantial holdings in the bank. Wisely, the Directors resisted the tempting offers. By 1978, the Right Honourable Sir Vincent Floissac, a distinguished St. Lucian lawyer would write, “The bank was founded by St. Lucians for St. Lucians. Our shareholders and depositors are nearly all St. Lucians. Our directors are all without exception, St. Lucians.” This truth endures to this very day. We remain, Indigenous!

Already, the digital age was fast approaching. Nearing the end of the century, a sophisticated telecommunications industry was getting ready for liberalization. Hi- tech computer systems and all the paraphernalia of the digital divide were arriving. In commerce and business, the big, familiar names were now competing with newer and more aggressive enterprises.

New Vision… New Beginnings

The bank moved into the era of technological advancement with ATMs for 24-hour convenient banking. Sophisticated IT systems were purchased in order to make the institution Y2K compliant. With the rapid expansion of the tourism industry and growth in air travel, the bank opened a Bureau de Change at the George F.L. Charles Airport in May 1999. Its overall staff complement was now 74. In his President’s address for the 1999 AGM, Ferrel Charles will call directors, management, staff and shareholders to a “new vision and new beginnings.”

On 22 June 2004, the Penny Bank received formal certification of change of name. Henceforth, the St. Lucia Cooperative Bank is now known as the 1st National Bank St. Lucia Limited.

We have always been… and will always be…

Today 1st National Bank St. Lucia Limited is at the heartbeat of commercial banking in St. Lucia offering a suite of banking products and services tailored to the needs of its customers. Customer service excellence is forever foremost in the minds of management staff who recognize the value of the customer to the business. The bank ensures that its customers can access their accounts electronically 24/7 through cutting edge technology. It must be noted that the bank was the first to introduce mobile banking to St. Lucia. For customers who prefer to bank the traditional way, we are proud to be the only bank offering convenient weekend Saturday Banking.

From the endeared Penny Bank that opened its doors in January 1938 in a back store on Mongiraud Street, to the new attractive edifice of the 1st National Bank St. Lucia Limited on Bridge Street and branches strategically located island wide. We remain fiercely loyal to the philosophy of the founding fathers ensuring that we give back to the communities in which we operate through our robust corporate social responsibility programme. This is evident due to the number of awards won locally and regionally. From the humble staff complement of 3 to an employer of choice with over 160 St. Lucians; from a $50,000 asset base to a multi-million-dollar corporate entity; bringing to market new product offerings such as 100% financed and zero down mortgage loans, says we’re still here for our St. Lucian family. We want to continue improving the lives of our people as we remain an enduring and important St. Lucian institution always “Here… for YOU!”

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