|Two years after this column was written, Brian Wynter returned to Jamaica, and assumed the post of Governor of the Bank of Jamaica on December 1, 2009|
Excerpts from column - Brian Wynter goes regional
By Jean Lowrie-Chin
Jamaica Observer | Dec 10, 2007
WITH an international education in law and economics, and the world of high finance at his feet, Brian Wynter had his choice of big city life on either side of the Atlantic. Happily for us, he chose to return to Jamaica in 1988.
By 1995, he had risen to deputy governor of the Bank of Jamaica, and after the financial meltdown of the '90s, was tasked to design and implement all aspects for the creation of a new integrated financial sector regulatory entity.
Thus, under Brian Wynter's watch, the Financial Services Commission (FSC) was formed. The FSC is Jamaica's autonomous integrated financial services regulator that registers and supervises the entire gamut of financial operations, including insurance, securities, mutual funds/unit trusts and pensions sectors.
Wynter is a stickler for due process. He recalls that though he had been a main player in the setting up of the FSC, applications for CEO were invited locally and internationally, and he had to apply and attend interviews like any ordinary Joe. He was happy that the FSC started out on that proper footing, and says that his successor would be chosen in like manner.
Speaking at a series of fora with the theme "Think and Check Before You Invest", Brian Wynter has been warning his fellow Jamaicans that unregistered investment schemes "will separate you from your money". Wynter says that in listening to and reading recent utterances, he believes that people who are sincere but misguided can be the most damaging.
Wynter is very clear about entities that refuse to abide by the rules and regulations of the Financial Services Commission which demand transparency and accountability: "Anyone who does not register," he says, "is on a slippery slope".
Wynter is hoping that responsible members of the media will help to raise public awareness about these schemes. "In all fairness to the average person," he observes, "many do not understand the workings of financial organisations. They are so occupied with going about their daily lives that they allot only a few minutes to really examine where they are putting their money."
Wynter, who was a vice-president for international financial house Schroder Wertheim International Company, is glad that the Companies Act was amended in 2002 to allow for the establishment of mutual funds/unit trusts that will efficiently intertwine investment instruments and legally deliver more to the depositor.
Wynter has a striking resemblance to his father, the late Hector Wynter, Gleaner editor and JLP senator; eyes that shine with extraordinary intelligence and a positive, self-assured manner.
Although his parents separated before he was 10, and he and two siblings moved to France with their St Vincent-born mother, Hector remained a steadfast presence in their lives.
He and his brother Colin were educated in England where they had to dodge the occasional racist epithets hurled at them. "I do not consider myself to be from a privileged middle-class background," he mused. "Growing up in England, I was always aware that I was Black and a member of a minority group."
This mental toughness served him well as he toiled like a journeyman at the FSC. "You have to expect brickbats when you work in the public service," he observed. "You can't even say 'job well done' because this kind of job is never done. You always have to be dealing with new issues. But that is the nature of the challenges and I find it rewarding to have helped to take the organisation thus far."
The brothers and their sister Astrid have excelled academically and professionally: Colin is the first Black commercial lawyer in England to be awarded the QC and Astrid is a senior IDB representative in the Dominican Republic.
Now Brian Wynter is striking out again to new challenges, having given nearly eight years to the formation and leadership of the FSC. He will shortly be leaving for Barbados, where he will be technical assistance advisor to The Caribbean Regional Technical Assistance Centre (CARTAC), a UNDP programme run by the IMF. Its operations span the 15 countries of Caricom as well as Cayman, Turks & Caicos, the Dominican Republic, Haiti and Suriname.This is a logical progression for a man who has built an organisation regarded throughout the Caribbean as a model for financial regulation.
Wynter chuckles when he remembers that after months of discussions on the new post, confirmation of his appointment did not come until the Friday before Jamaica's September 3 general elections. "It was purely coincidental," he says.
As he leaves for his three-year stint, he maintains that "Jamaica is the most exciting place to work and live."
The dedicated family man's main concern for Jamaica is law and order. "Our judicial system is critical," says Brian, "I know that switching around resources is not easy, but we have to spend money on reforming the justice system and equipping our police force. This is the only way that we can address the 'big man vs small man' tensions in Jamaica."
Brian has a sense of satisfaction, mingled with the expected sadness as he looks back at the FSC he will be leaving. "We started out with only Sheila Martin and myself," he remarks. "Now we have high-achieving management and staff that have earned the respect of the financial institutions."
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