Unico Banking Group: Cooperative banking in Europe 'T Rabo band Founded in 1977, the Unico Banking Group provides a platform for seven major European cooperative banks to discuss their strategies, to exchange information and know-how and to en- gage in combined activities in various segments of the market. Examples to date are the establishment of the Unico Investment Fund, the Unico Equity Fund, the Unico Trading Cy. and the vari ous international financing operations which the member banks of the Group have been able to accomplish together. Unico member banks US$b 710.6 US$b 506.5 US$b 423.6 36,251 293,576 Issue 5/December 13, 1989 Flexible approach Not everything is di- rected from Utrecht to the offices outside the Netherlands. In the Netherlands, the local Rabobanks have a high degree of freedom. The same is true of the foreign- based offices. Nillesen: 'Our people abroad have often previously worked with other banks. They are frequently surprised about the flexible, somewhat detached ap proach of the head office. We discuss a lot and they have a big say in many matters. These men and women are not used to that. Their head offices sent them manu- als and everything they had to know was in these.' Consensus The basic principle is that Rabobank's specialists, wherever they are in the world, should contribute to policy. As Nillesen says, the head office in Utrecht does not have a monopoly on wisdom: 'If we were to follow strict guidelines, there would be a risk of creating conflict situa- tions. In Utrecht we do everything on the basis of consensus. First we all have to be in agreement and then we take another step forward. That's what actually happens in 'Foreign Offices' too. We first check everything out with the offices. That's why we also have the Managers' conferences.' Tasks Nillesen and his staff are not sitting still. That is quite clear. But what, broadly speaking, does this department actually do? The department manager lists the activities one by one: 'Actually, we have three main tasks: location research, setting up offices, branches and represen- tative offices and the liaison function for the existing offices abroad. But', says Nillesen, 'in addition we have a number of typical Utrecht tasks. We do the reporting for the International Division, are respon- sible for the budget, the annual plans and our own automation.' Exchange Some of the Foreign Offices Department's activities take place at the home base in Utrecht. Largely, however, they extend beyond the frontiers of the Netherlands. 'Yes, we go to all these of fices and there you see all kinds of things. So we are not only concerned with policy matters. Computer problems, the range of banking services, personnel aspects, we deal with everything.' Nillesen gives an other example. 'In America, we have a very good disaster recovery plan. It has been tested and appears to work well. Just how important that could be is clear after the San Francisco earthquake. If something happens in New York we can start providing a number of elementary banking functions again within a few hours. We have pre- sented that plan to the ADCA-Bank in West Germany, which will start using it next year after it moves to a new building. And to London and Singapore. They can use it too. We show people the possibilities.' he further unification of Europe however', according to the Secre- tary General of the Group Antony ~'k, 'has led to the fact, that at present ,ore emphasis is placed on finding stra tegie niches, where cooperation between the member banks in Europe can give us a competitive edge and lead to an enlarged service package for the members and clients of the banks. The traditional strong local know-how and the large networks of the banks involved have led to the deci- sion that, particularly in the field of retail banking stronger cooperation should be envisaged.' Other areas of strategie impor- tance to be considered are in the field of small and medium-sized companies, capi- tal markets and securities and communica- tion. Apart from the more strategically ori- ented committees, the Group strives to foster cooperation via a number of other committees in various segments of the market. Coordination takes place in the Standing Secretariat in Amsterdam, where Tuk is assisted by the Deputy Secretary- General Mathijs Matthes. Organization Unico's common policy is based on decisions of the Steering Com- mittee, which determines the strategie policies for Unico. At present Herman Wijf fels, Chairman of the Executive Board of Rabobank Nederland, is Chairman of the Unico's Secretary-General Antony Tuk: 'The Unico Banking Group is a platform for the cooperative banks in Europe. Steering Committee. In addition, Unico has an Executive Committee, which implements the policies. Rabobank is represented on this Committee by Henk Gentis, Deputy General Manager International Division. Future As for the future, Tuk empha- sizes the importance of the fact that in Eu rope the Group will be able to mobilize the large network of its members and clients. 'When we succeed in guiding our clients through Europe via our network, the com petitive edge which the local banks gain from the cooperation within Unico Banking Andelsbanken Danebank, Denmark CERA Spaarbank, Belgium Crédit Agricole, France DG BANK, W.Germany Okobank, Finland Rabobank Nederland, The Netherlands RZB-Austria, Austria Group will be clearly demonstrated. For the time being it is therefore important that, as established in the past, only one bank per country can be a member of the Group. There is, however, clear interest on the part of other banks in participating in the activities of the Group and I therefore do not exclude the possibility that in the fore- seeable future the Group will be enlarged to include other banks. An expansion out side Europe should not be excluded in this respect.' Training An important aspect in this field is the training programmes provided by the Unico Banking Institute. This insti- tute, which falls within the framework of the Standing Secretariat, provides the European cooperative banking community with international training facilities. The seminars of the institute, of which Ben van Tol is Programme Director, supplement the individual training programmes of the member banks and stimulate interbank contact in various spheres of activity. Ac cording to Tuk, it is to be expected that the number of training programmes will in- crease in the years to come as a conse- quence of further internationalization of the partner banks individually as well as together within the framework of the Unico Banking Group. Unico Banking Group December 31,1988 Group balance sheet total Total deposits Volume of loans Number of offices Number of employees

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blad 'Raboband International' (EN) | 1989 | | pagina 5