Welcome to Aruba, Paul DeWolfe

Paul DeWolfe is the island’s new General Managing Director & Chief Executive Officer at Caribbean Mercantile Bank N.V.

He comes to us from Bangkok, Thailand where he managed a bank for the mother-ship, the Bank of Nova Scotia.

Of course he is Canadian. You guessed, from Halifax, Nova Scotia, a career banker, with an expertise for international banking.

Having managed wealth for many years, in his hometown, he signed up for an international banking post. Thailand was the first, Aruba the second.

While both tropical, they are very different, he explains. The Thai, while sweet and welcoming on a personal level, have an insanely high level of job commitment, professionally. They never leave their desks, not even for food, and regularly put in extra hours. Their work culture is extremely stressful and demanding.

Aruba, I chuckled to myself, while we value work, we have an insanely high level of commitment to happy hour.

When top Nova Scotia management suggested Aruba when DeWolfe’s assignment in Thailand ended, he immediately said yes, but it took a while to process permits here, almost nine months, he is not complaining, and I am just saying.

Is banking going away, I asked him in light of all the articles I have been reading about digital currencies. No, he said. People need people and they like to connect. You can’t run a great idea by a digital wallet, while your banker will be happy to hear from you.

He also thinks that perhaps the role banks play on the island could be a bit different, modeled after the USA and Canada, our bankers could become advisors, trusted experts on investments, and/or retirement, providing general help in all aspects of financial planning, and expanding the limited number of services usually delivered here. The bank could grow the menu of its activities to include answers to all our private financial needs and goals.

I liked the idea. I need all the help I can get.

DeWolfe is also the champion of downtown Oranjestad, and feels the revival of Oranjestad is in the cards, if we play them right. With some planning, and private/public partnerships, we could attract people, students, young professional, and the elderly into town, create good services for them, and breathe new life into the partially abandoned area. The bank has just renovated its main street branch – by the way, CMB is the only bank with 4 branches, and I should visit SN to see how beautiful the remodeled branch turned out. Improving the main street façade and revamping the design, is next, heralding that much needed urban revival.

In the short time that DeWolfe has been here, he managed to meet most of our economic movers and shakers, including the new Minister of the Economy, he also made sandwiches for John Fun’s organization, Fundacion Ban Uni Man Pa Cria Nos Muchanan, he dropped in to hear Armin Solognier play – Fantastic – and resumed exercising, with his wife Marlene, who is a teacher, mostly running/walking at the end of the day.

Caribbean Mercantile Bank will continue to be a good member of the community, DeWolfe reassures me, with high involvement in local causes and events, to continue to live up to its generous social responsibility.

On a personal note, De Wolfe is looking forward to entertain his grown kids in Aruba over the new year holiday. How nice!

Welcome to Aruba, grow where you’re planted.

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October 30, 2021
Rona Coster