Internationalization: one of the policy themes of the nineties Babo band Issue 6/April 6, 1990 Banking markets are on the move everywhere. The Rabobank Group is following these movements closely. The nineties have started. What can we expect? We talked about this with Herman Wijffels, Chairman of the Executive Board. 'Financial markets are characterized by tremendous changes and Rabobank is bursting with eagerness to tie in with these. An eagerness, incidentally, which as befits a good bank is based on soundness and reliability.' Everywhere in the world there is fair- ly stable economie growth. Wijffels: 'I expect this development to con tinue in the coming years. It is accompanied by uncertainty in the financial markets, however. Money and capital markets have largely become divorced from the real econ omie developments and are behaving nerv- ousiy. That again became clear in October last year with the so-called mini-crash on the stock exchanges. Financial markets have become a potential threat to stable economie development. Another important economie trend is the internationalization of the banking business.' Many cash dispensers Technology has become increasingly important for the func- tioning of a bank. 'Micro-electronics has become indispensable in our business,' says Wijffels. 'After back-office automation had begun, technology also became a fac tor that determines the image of the bank hall. in the Netheriands, for example, Rabo bank has about 900 cash dispensers. That is more than all the other Dutch banks put together. In addition, information technol ogy is playing a rapidly growing role in the distribution of bank services - just think of telebanking. Customer information sys- tems and expert systems are becoming available, permitting a higher service ievel and better advice to customers.' Society is changing Wijffels: 'We no- tice great changes taking place in society too. Think of individualization, the higher educational Ievel of our customers, the in- creasing social and political maturity and higher quality requirements. These have con- sequences for the way in which customers wantto be served. Another important devel opment is that society is looking increas ingly critically at the effects of the way com- panies behave. Environmentally friendly ag- ricultural production, campaigns such as 'pure coffee', 'pure textiies' and 'pure banking' and the rapidly increasing popular- ity of the colour green in all kinds of products show that markets in many countries are becoming more and more receptive to con- siderations of this kind.' These devel- op ments in society are leading to greater differences in the bank's clientèle. Wijffels: 'The key word is quality. Quaiity tailored to the individual customer's pattern of expec- tations.' Rabobank's position How does Rabo bank intend to position itself in these de velopments? 'Our present position is char acterized by large market shares in the most important domestic market segments such as lending, saving, payment transac- tions, insurance and travel,' says Wijffels. 'In addition, our local banks are strongly in- volved with customers in their own field of operations. On the basis of this strong starting position, we have determined the strategy for the nineties together in the past few years. Confirming and strengthen- ing our identity is a central aim. From that basis, maximum attention is being paid to innovation and specifically targeted inter nationalization.' Identity In the sixties and seventies, Rabobank expanded into the bank for every- one, particularly also for private individ- uals. Wijffels: 'In that period, the core ob- jective of our cooperative disappeared from the picture to some extent. People knew, of course, that there was something cooperative about us, but it wasn't very clear what that was. This pic ture, and the realization that our environment is subject to rapid changes, led us to reflect on our identity. Who are we, who do we want to be? These are central ques- tions in this respect. Serving the economie in- terests of our 400,000 member companies at home and abroad is the most important reason for our existence. In con crete terms, this means that we endeavour to finance companies on the most favourable terms. In line with that, we are striving to be a first-class bank for ali our Dutch members and customers - in other words, both companies and private in dividuals. We must give high priority to maintain- ing and strengthening our position in the home mar ket.' Innovation 'If we aim to respond effec- tively to a changing environment, then in novation is a precondition. Innovation does not only involve introducing new prod ucts and services. In this respect, I am also thinking of new forms of distribution, new internal organizational structures, new pro cessing systems and so on. In short, our organization must constantly renew and adapt itself on all fronts. In recent years, we have put more than twenty new or re- newed products and services on the mar ket annually.' Internationalization Another policy theme for the nineties is internationaliz ation. Wijffels: 'Internationalization based on the primary objective of being of ser vice to our Dutch members and customers. The international expansion of Rabobank is therefore closely bound up with the strongly increasing international trading relations of Dutch businessmen. Many of these people are our members and they want us to help them beyond our national frontiers too. In practice, this means we are particularly present in those countries with which intensive trading relationships exist. In addition to this objective, our in ternational expansion fulfils two other aims. The first is to attract funds on the international money and capital markets in order to acquire funding for our roie as a lender. In view of our internationally highly regarded solidity, we can acquire these resources at a relatively attractive price. This price advantage is ultimately reflected in the interest rate we have to charge our members. A second additional objective of our international business is our specialization as a global agribusi- ness bank. This explains our presence outside Europe as well.' Employees 'Despite all technological developments, banking still remains a human Wijffels: 'Internationalization based on the primary objective of being of service to our Dutch members and customers.

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blad 'Raboband International' (EN) | 1990 | | pagina 5