Scotiabank throws lifeline to small-business persons

IF YOU have a small nest egg or some redundancy money and a good business plan, Scotiabank is ready to assist you. The bank has developed a range of services to help entrepreneurs who are just getting started and others who may need help in specific areas.

Patsy Latchman-Atterbury, vice president of small and medium enterprise at Scotiabank.

Patsy Latchman-Atterbury, vice president of small and medium enterprise at Scotiabank.

“The SME Unit was established two years ago to provide a value-added product to customers,” discloses Patsy Latchman-Attebury, vice-president in charge of the unit. “So not only are we providing financial services
, we are also providing a service that allows the small-business person to become a better manager of his/her business,” she adds.

Getting the details

According to Latchman-Atterbury, Scotiabank has trained its business banking officers to be able to question customers so they begin to think of their business not only in financial terms.

“We question our customers in such a way that they begin to think about their businesses in a detailed fashion that connects all the elements of the balance sheet,” the banking executive explains. “For example, if we have a business customer who has a problem with receivables, we ask how he/she is managing supplier credit, whether the business has a receivables policy and collectors who are assigned to ensure money owed is collected on time,” Latchman-Atterbury discloses.

She emphasises the need for businesses to improve processes like record-keeping. “You have to know what’s happening in your business. If you don’t know, then anything will happen. You need to know what’s happening with your cash, with your stock, especially at this time when you need to be managing every penny,” the Scotiabank executive advises.

Online features

Latchman-Atterbury cites as a useful tool Scotiabank’s Business Internet Banking feature, which allows business owners to keep tabs on their affairs, from inventory to cash flow. Another online feature, the Scotia Plan Writer, gives users a step-by-step guide to preparing a business plan.

The Scotiabank executive also points to another creative offering to small businesses that need capital.

Flexible options

She explains: “We have the regular term loans, but they can be repaid to match the cycle of the business. So customers are able to make payments every two months or every three months, depending on how the business cash flow comes in. We also developed the Customer Assistance Programme to provide our responsible customers with a flexible option for managing and maintaining their credit. If payments on an account become past due for 90 days, the loan is classified as delinquent and that greatly restricts what the bank can do.”

Latchman-Atterbury says customers who have a good track record of payment are invited in to discuss their situation. Two of the available options include restructuringthe loan, and receivinga moratorium on payments. These options, she notes, are designed to ensure businesses are able to maintain their cash flow through this period of uncertainty.

QUERIES: Email your small business questions to

LISTEN: Real Business, Power 106FM, Wednesday, July 8, at 9:35 a.m.

READ: in your following Friday Gleaner.


On a personal note

“I didn’t get a start from my parents, I didn’t get a skill, I didn’t get nothing. Not a piece ah land, nutten at all. So I have to create my own ideas,” relates a hard-working St Catherine woman, who is a Scotiabank customer. “I have two children and they have to go to school. My daughter just graduated from UTech (University of Technology), but when she started, it was very hard. So I started with selling chickens and flowers. It was hard, but it is going good now. I just need some more help so I can hire two persons and spread my wings a little wider,” adds the ambitious Scotiabank customer.

She is banking on the Micro Enterprise Financing Limited (MEFL) to help expand her business. She is one of more than 2,500 Jamaicans who have been benefiting. Scotiabank executive Patsy Latchman-Attebury explains that the MEFL is a joint initiative involving Scotiabank, the Canadian International Development Agency and the Kingston Restoration Company. “The MEFL provides loans of up to $500,000 collateral-free, and borrowers may repay on a weekly or monthly basis,” states Latchman-Atterbury.

Stacy-Ann Smith, Gleaner Writer

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admin Posted by: admin June 30, 2009 at 9:18 am