A young Jamaican professional in the United States of America says there is a desire among other young professional Jamaicans overseas to invest in Jamaica, although he acknowledges that there is a lack of understanding among some about saving and investing generally.
Contributing to a discussion recently about how Jamaicans in the Diaspora can invest in Jamaica during the JN Bank’s Redesign Your 2020 Goals series on social media, David Mullings, CEO of the Florida-based, Blue Mahoe Capital, noted that there are several young professionals like himself, in the Diaspora, who want to own property or do some kind of investment in Jamaica.
“Interest rates in the United States are low; therefore, we are looking for better savings options and better interest rates. We are also looking to invest, because according to Bloomberg, the Jamaican Stock Exchange has been the best performing stock exchange in the last five years; therefore, everybody wants to own a piece of the rock. They want to know how they can trade on the Jamaican Stock Exchange; and lastly, a lot of us want to, ‘Own a Piece of the Rock,’ in terms of real estate, Mr Mullings pointed out. ”
Pre-COVID-19, Jamaica recorded 20 consecutive quarters of growth in its economy; and achieved a high level of confidence among consumers and businesses; as well as, a bullish stockmarket.
However, similar to other countries around the world, the Jamaican economy is now experiencing a downturn; but its reopening last month has signalled hope for its re-emergence, as some fundamentals, such as the Net International Resrves (NIR), have begun to demonstrate a marginal uptick. NIR rose 1.54 per cent last week, the Bank of Jamaica reported.
But, Mr Mullings acknowledged that although many young Jamaicans overseas want to invest, there are those who are not as literate as they should be about saving and investing.
“Most of us were not taught about investment or financial literacy while we were growing up; but the most important thing is to, start and be consistent,” he insisted.
Supporting Mr Mullings’ observation, JN Bank’s chief representative officer in Florida, Janice McIntosh, underscored that there is a lot of interest in Jamaica among Jamaicans overseas. She stated that it was important for them to maintain even a savings account, for example, so that they would have a source of funding and a financial footprint, when they visit and do other kinds of business in Jamaica.
“More and more Jamaicans overseas are making Jamaica their choice for vacations and family reunions; and as a result, they don’t necessarily want to travel with too much cash. They can establish an account so that they can get a debit card to do point-of-sale purchases, and conveniently access their money via automated teller machines, while in Jamaica,” she explained.
Echoing Mr Mullings’ point, Ms McIntosh pointed out that savings accounts in Jamaica offer interest, while many banks overseas, particulary in the United States of America, do not.
She said that although most Jamaican banks and other financial institutions do not have subsidiaries overseas, there are some organisations which have representative offices, such as JN Bank, to facilitate the opening of savings accounts in Jamaica.
JN Bank has representative offices in Florida in the USA; Toronto, Canada and London, England which provide prospective members with the requisite documents and instructions needed to open accounts; and convenient linkages to allow them to manage their accounts while living outside Jamaica. She outlined that once all the information is received to open an account, the representative offices forward them to JN Bank in Jamaica, so that the relationship can be established.
“We don’t have a banking licence in the US; therefore, persons have to fund their accounts through wire transfer or remittances, that can be facilitated conveniently through our sister company, JN Money, which allows persons to send funds online from overseas,” she said.
She added that once the money is sent through JN Money, it goes directly into the bank account and is immediately accessible.
“We also encourage everyone who establishes a relationship with JN Bank, to sign up for our online banking platform, JN Bank LIVE, as it is extremely extensive and convenient; and allows you to access your savings accounts, pay bills, transfer funds to local and overseas banks, request statements, and so much more,” she informed.
Beyond maintaining savings, however, Ms McIntosh informed that the real estate sector is a good investment for Jamaicans overseas, pointing to the marked growth of the sector in recent years, which was facilitated by changes in government policy; and also the dramatic growth of the short-term rental market, supported by platforms, such as Airbnb.
She noted that JN Bank remains the country’s leading private mortgagee, assisting hundreds with financing the purchase of realty.
“A lot of Jamaicans are looking to diversify their investment portfolio; and they are looking at real estate as one viable option. They want to ensure that a part of their wealth is in Jamaica,” she said.
“Properties ususally have a high re-sale value and they can also double as Airbnb and other forms of short-term rentals, thus providing another source of income. Jamaica is a high tourist destination, so once someone can secure a property in Jamaica, especially in the resort areas, they can be used for vacation homes or retirement property,” she outlined.
In that vein, Ms McIntosh said JN Bank’s Representative Offices assists with the acquisition of mortgages for homes and property in Jamaica.
“We can facilitate the entire mortgage application from our office here in Florida. What we do is to send interested persons the information to do pre-qualificationsl and once they are pre-qualified, we will finance the purchase,” she explained.
“Once the pre-approval is done, we give them a list of requirements, they provide us with same; we then compile the application and it down to Jamaica electronically, initially; and the adjudication team or underwriters there, either approves, suspends or denies it,” she explained.
The online series, JN Bank Redesigning Your 2020 Goals is geared to provide the public with information about how to navigate 2020; and still achieve their financial goals, despite the COVID-19 pandemic. The series, which can be viewed on the JN Bank‘s Facebook, Instagram and YouTube pages, ends on July 23.