As a powerhouse investment company, the Trinidad and Tobago Unit Trust Corporation is focused on strengthening its regional footprint and extending its orbit to reach new investors as part of its strategic vision. With Assets Under Management totaling approximately US $3.75 Billion, the Corporation has grown into the largest mutual fund service provider in Trinidad and Tobago and one of the largest financial solutions providers in the Caribbean.
Founded more than 40 years ago, the Corporation is calibrating a new course. A joint venture merges UTC with GraceKennedy Ltd., one of the Caribbean’s largest conglomerates, creating a new regional synergy. Their shared goal is to create expanded opportunities for wealth creation for Jamaican citizens.
UTC has been successful in Trinidad and Tobago, and UTC Executive Director Nigel Edwards is optimistic about doing the same in Jamaica with new and innovative investment solutions for Jamaican investors.
Three additional investment options are being offered through this recent partnership. Officially launched on March 6, 2023, the GK US Dollar Income Fund, the GK Jamaican-dollar Money Market Fund, and the GK Jamaican Dollar Growth & Income Fund are part of a new Collective Investment Scheme (CIS) being offered to both individual and institutional investors.
“We are elated about this partnership and believe the timing is perfect,” Edwards said of the recent partnership. “Even as uncertainty keeps sweeping global economies, financial markets, and industries, we remain focused on delivering value. UTC’s business trajectory is prudently mapped, and our investment management philosophy is borne out of a customer‐centric approach.”
The early stages of the global pandemic dealt a severe blow to Jamaica’s economy, causing a significant downturn in business activity, employment opportunities, and disposable income. The economy fell approximately 10 to 11 percent in 2020, but the recovery has been nothing short of spectacular with record levels of employment and a surge in business and consumer confidence.
In addition, the Labour Force Survey for April 2023, showed an unemployment rate of 4.5 percent with the Jamaican economy estimated to have grown in the range of 4.0 to 5.5 percent for FY2022-2023. These developments have been a catalyst for growth and creative international partnerships that offer increased investment opportunities for Jamaican citizens.
GK’s executive team is equally as excited about the partnership and its potential. As Steven Whittingham, Deputy Chief Executive Officer of the GraceKennedy Financial Group and the Head of GK’s Investment and Insurance Divisions, shared in a recent press release, “The initial funds will diversify the sphere of investment opportunities for GK Capital’s clients and expand our product reach. While we are entering a competitive Collective Investment Scheme market, the design of the funds and the planned novel approaches to distribution, will deliver a unique customer experience and drive client acquisition and the accumulation of assets under management.”
GraceKennedy is a venerable name in financial services in Jamaica, and investors in GK Mutual Funds will be able to simultaneously enjoy GK’s stability while taking advantage of the expert fund management that UTC provides.
GK Mutual Funds are a Part of UTC’s Three-Year ‘Transformational’ Changes
UTC’s partnership with GraceKennedy is driven by the Corporation’s strategic intent. Edwards spoke about the period of transformational change at UTC which started back in 2021.”
This era of transformational change included a five-part strategy, starting with regional expansion. Added to this is an enhanced product portfolio that gives UTC clients access to new opportunities, and an enhanced distribution model to help UTC reach new clients, especially younger clients who are new to investing. Embracing new technologies, including a major upgrade to their online platforms, along with improved operational efficiency, all contribute to better service and experiences.
Edwards looked to the future in his prepared remarks. “In three years, UTC will look dramatically different, in the right ways. Easier to interact with, with a wider product slate, giving more choices to our unitholders and in more markets!” UTC was seeking a joint venture partner who was currently operating in markets that had a solid financial footprint and GraceKennedy fit the bill… These markets are all a part of the English-speaking Caribbean, where UTC sees growth potential and creating wealth opportunities for new investors.”
Together, GK and UTC manage the largest unit trust portfolio in the Eastern Caribbean, offering an inclusive financial strategy for investors.
The Mutual Funds Were Officially Launched in Kingston, Jamaica
Although the joint venture agreement between UTC and GK was first signed in May of 2022, the funds were launched on March 6, 2023, at the AC Hotel in Kingston. Edwards and Whittingham unveiled the mutual funds products together, an indication of their companies’ shared strength and common values in providing valuable financial services to the Jamaican people.
“Just as the UTC was established 40 years ago in T&T to create opportunities for collective investment that were accessible to the everyday citizen, the aim of this initiative is to bring similar opportunities for participation in the investment arena to every Jamaican household,” UTC Chairman Jo-Anne Julien said at the official launch of the mutual funds.
This joint venture comes at a pivotal moment.
In a time of financial uncertainty, GK Capital Management and UTC are offering Jamaican investors “products focused on consistency and stability, with the goal of sustainable wealth creation.”