1962-2017 JN Group Milestones

    Much has been said about our beginnings…”from a humble start in a church in the west“… and even more about where we are today…one of the Caribbean’s largest group of companies, with an international network spanning both sides of the Atlantic Ocean.

    1800s

    On August 13, 1874, the Westmoreland Building Society held its first Directors’ Meeting. The Reverend Henry Clarke, Founder and first Chairman, presided.

    Jamaica celebrated its Independence in August 1962. One week later, the Westmoreland Building Society, founded August 13, 1874, celebrated 88 years of providing savings and mortgage solutions to its members.

    1960s

    1967

    Five years later, in 1967, the Westmoreland Building Society completed its first merger with the Manchester Mutual Building Society, building new offices in Savanna-la-Mar and established branches in Santa Cruz, Mandeville, May Pen and Kingston, linking them all by radio-telephone.  The growing building society then merged with the Central Building Society in Christiana.

    Llewellyn Bailey, former Assistant General Manager, recalls that his association with the building societies began in 1969, when he accepted an offer to work at the St James Benefit Building Society in Montego Bay.  His first significant task was to oversee the decimalization of the Society in keeping with the country’s move from pounds, shillings and pence to dollars and cents in April that year.

    … And many shall become one!

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    Following closely on the process of decimalizing the Societies, came intense talk of the possibility of a merger of three societies (St James, Brown’s Town and St Ann), with the Westmoreland Building Society.

    The St. James Benefit Building Society, founded in 1874, but incorporated in 1901, began modestly as a penny savings bank for members of the congregation of the Reverend Cork, its founder.  He is also recorded as the founder of the St Ann Benefit Building Society, in 1875.

    The Brown’s Town Benefit Building Society was the “baby” of the merging societies, having been founded only 74 years before in 1896. Its founder, Mr. A. H. Allwood, a solicitor by profession, started the Society with a desk in his own office where people, including little children, encouraged to save, came to deposit their pennies.

    Within the merging societies, the fears of employees were allayed with the undertaking given by management through the Instrument of Transfer, which guaranteed that no member of staff would be made worse off as a result of the merger.  As each building society was unique to the parish or town of its name, there was no prospect of offices being closed and employees losing their jobs.

    1969

    1970s

    Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) emerges

    1970 might be regarded as the watershed year of the organization.  In this year, the Westmoreland Building Society engaged in its largest number of mergers, as well as undertook internal and external adjustments, including its name change to Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) in December 1970.

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    … On the cutting edge

    With the plans for the mergers safely underway, it was time to implement another major project in the growing organisation.  This time it was to computerize the operations.  Mr Bailey recounts that he was among those selected to be a part of this new computer division and he was subsequently employed to the Westmoreland Building Society as Computer Manager. Together with two other persons, one being a representative of NCR, they wrote Jamaica National’s first mortgage programme.

    By 1971, the process to automate the operations and continue the rich tradition of being a Society that strives to safeguard the interests of its members, was well established in the new Jamaica National Building Society.

    Following this early spate of mergers, the St. Thomas Mutual Building Society, founded in 1897, formally merged its assets with that of the JNBS in September 1976. The Jamaica Permanent Building Society established in 1878, merged with the JNBS in 1977 and finally in 1983, the St. Mary’s Benefit Building Society established in 1915, merged with the JNBS. The final two acquisitions were Hanover Benefit Building Society in 1996 and Jamaica Savings and Loans Building Society in 2001.

    Management Control Systems
    With the rapid growth of the new entity, the computer system could not accommodate the additional work, particularly the idea of also processing savings accounts. This shortfall gave birth to an idea, which came to fruition four years later, as a decision to purchase a service bureau and Management Control Systems (MCS) to carry out this function.  Eventually, MCS would serve as the base of Jamaica’s first on-line real time banking system as some branches islandwide were connected via telephone lines to the computer located at its office.

    In 1983, 2-4 Constant Spring Road became the Chief Office for the Jamaica National Building Society.  Other key milestones in the 1980s for the Society, was its achievement as the #1 building society in assets in Jamaica.

    In 1988, the JNBS UK Representative Office was launched, the first Jamaican building society to offer remittance services and facilitate mortgages in the UK.

    In 1989, JN achieved another significant milestone, when its assets were recorded as $1 billion.

    1980s

    1990s

    JN Foundation, JNBS Canada Representative Office and JNBS Lucea Branch

    Other firsts for the Society were the formation of the JNBS Foundation in 1990, the opening of the Canada Representative Office in 1991 and the merger of the Hanover Building Society with JNBS in 1996, with the JNBS branch in Lucea established.

    MC Systems becomes first Microsoft authorized dealer in the Caribbean.  The company continues to grow and develop, receiving awards from international corporations such as Hewlett Packard, Microsoft, Verifone, MITEL and Diebold.

    1994

    1996

    The Hanover Benefit Building Society merged with JNBS in 1996

    JN Small Business Loans (JNSBL) began operating in October 2000, when JNBS purchased a small micro-credit portfolio from FINSAC, with the mission to deliver innovative and accessible credit to small businesses with limited access to loans from traditional banking institutions. During its 20 year journey, the company became the largest micro-finance entity in the Caribbean.

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    Investment Managers Limited, which was founded in 1996, was acquired by the Society and restructured as JN Fund Managers in 2000.

    The Society also invested in NEM Insurance Company (Jamaica) Ltd in April 2000, when JNBS acquired majority holding.  The company is the longest established of all general insurance companies operating in Jamaica, with a tradition of excellence dating back to 1934.

    In 2001, the Jamaica Savings and Loans Building Society merged with JNBS.

    JN Money Services was launched in 2001 and today has locations in the UK, USA, Canada and the Cayman Islands, as well as agents in other countries around the world.

    The National Building Society of Cayman, established in 1992, operated under local management until 2002, when the Jamaica National Building Society assumed majority ownership.

    The Jamaica Automobile Association (JAA) became a subsidiary of the JN Group in 2002.  JAA is a member of the Federation International de l’Automobile (FIA).

    2000s

    2003

    JN Outlook for the Future

    Since 2003, the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) has hosted a series of economic forums called Outlook for the Future to provide members of the Jamaican Diaspora and friends of Jamaica in the United Kingdom, United States of America, and Canada with an opportunity to engage in frank discourse on various issues of importance affecting the island.

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    The Florida Representative Office of the Jamaica National Building Society opened its doors in 2003.

    In 2005, the JNBS Falmouth branch opened, which resulted in the Society being present in all parishes.  That same year, JN Money Services Limited was incorporated and its name changed from Janouk to JN Money Services.

    In 2007, JNBS acquired Pelican Finance Ltd., which subsequently changed its name to JN Finance Ltd. in 2008 and provides insurance premium financing.  This company later became part of JN Bank as the Insurance Premium Financing Unit.

    JN Life Insurance Company Limited (JN Life) was incorporated in April 2008 as Blue Sapphire Ltd. The name was subsequently changed in September 2011 to JN Life Insurance Company Limited

    JNBS became the first financial institution in Jamaica to install intelligent ATMs that count and recognize cash deposits.

    On May 1, 2012, N.E.M. Insurance changed its name to JN General Insurance Company (JNGI), to identify more closely with its parent and benefit from the strength and recognition of the JN brand and reputation in the wider Jamaican marketplace.

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    Jamaica celebrates 50th Anniversary of Independence

    As our nation celebrated its 50th Anniversary of Independence in 2012, the Jamaica National Building Society and its subsidiaries remain committed to being the premier provider of financial and other services and to support the Vision 2030 goals for national development, so that we can make “Jamaica…the place of choice to live, work, raise families, and do business”.

    2012

    2013

    The following year, 2013, JNBS became the first financial institution in Jamaica to become ISO 9001 certified.

    JN Foundation launches Social Enterprise Boost Initiative (SEBI), with US$100 million funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development.

    JNBS application for commercial banking license approved

    Following the re-submission of the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) application for a commercial banking license in November 2013 to the Bank of Jamaica (BOJ), the application was approved by the BOJ in February 2015. The country’s third largest financial institution at the time, the Society commenced the process to convert the building society into a commercial bank and to restructure the JN Group.

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    The National Building Society of Cayman was rebranded as JN Cayman in 2015.

    Parish Histories of Jamaica
    In 2015, the JN Foundation embarked on a mission to empower Jamaicans by creating and implementing the Parish Histories of Jamaica project.  The ultimate goal of this project is to strengthen the social connectedness, improve cultural awareness and increase the community involvement of the Jamaican people.

    2015

    2016

    JNBS members vote to approve proposed reorganisation

    After Jamaica National was granted the banking license by the Bank of Jamaica, an application was made to the Supreme Court to approve the proposed reorganisation. Following the court’s hearing and approval of the application, a Special General Meeting was held on November 14, 2016, where a majority of JN members voted to approve the new structure. The final decision of the JN members was communicated to the Court, which granted final approval, after which the commercial banking license was signed by the Minister of Finance.

    The Jamaica National Building Society acquired The Voice UK newspaper in 2016.

    The Jamaica National Group and JN Bank launched

    On February 1, 2017, The Jamaica National Group, a powerful, Jamaican mutually-owned global business, became a reality and the country’s third largest commercial bank, JN Bank, was launched.

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    In addition to converting the deposit-taking arm of the Jamaica National Building Society (JNBS) into JN Bank, the JN Group was restructured to ensure compliance with the new Banking Services Act.   The Jamaica National Group became the parent company of the JN Financial Services Group and the MCS Group, which is the holding company for all non-financial companies within the JN Group.

    The Jamaica National Group is comprised of several world-leading entities which provide a wide array of financial, technology, creative and fleet management services, among others.

    The Water Project Jamaica, funded by Inter-American Development Bank, was launched by the JN Foundation in 2017.

    2017

    2019

    JN Circle launched

    The Jamaica National Group introduced the JN Circle, a network of service clubs, to its members in 2019, with the aim of encouraging members to work together to take action, which will improve their life and the lives of all Jamaicans.

    JN Small Business Loans becomes a division of JN Bank Limited and continues to be led by former General Manager, Gillian Hyde, as Deputy Managing Director at JN Bank.

    Plans to convert JN Cayman from the only building society operating in The Cayman Islands to a commercial bank are well underway. An application has been made to the Cayman Islands Monetary Authority (CIMA) for licencing and it is anticipated that JN Bank Cayman will be launched by 2022.

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    The JN Foundation Immunise…Save Lives campaign was launched in October 2021 to support the Jamaican Government’s National Vaccination programme.  The campaign provided information by way of webinars and websites to help employees, members and customers to make the best decision to protect them from the disease.  JN Foundation also worked closely with the Ministry of Health and Wellness to establish immunisation sites for persons to have access to the vaccines.

    The number of confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Jamaica at December 31, 2022 was 94,649, with 2,476 deaths.  (www.moh.gov.jm)

    The Jamaica National Group and its member companies continue to follow the guidelines recommended by the Government of Jamaica and international health authorities.

    2021

    2020

    Coronavirus declared a pandemic

    On January 30, 2002, the World Health Organisation declared the outbreak of COVID-19 a Public Health Emergency of International Concern, followed by the declaration of a pandemic on March 11, 2020.  On March 10, 2020, the first imported case of the COVID-19 disease was announced in Kingston.  The disease quickly spread, with 12,915 confirmed cases and 393 deaths declared by December 31, 2020.  (www.moh.gov.jm)

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    The Jamaica National Group Emergency Management Team (EMT) was activated to prepare and implement a Group Response Plan to minimize the risks to Group employees, our operations and to our members and customers.  Activities included Work-From-Home arrangements for many employees, mask requirements, JN Circle Life Class webinars, limiting the numbers allowed in locations and online meetings.

    JN Bank UK Launched

    JN Bank UK was launched in October 2020, the first Caribbean bank to be awarded a UK Banking licence.

    MC Systems purchases Phoenix International, which is expected to transform finance in the Caribbean.