4 International New look for Rabobank Aflas around the world What is Atlas? You mean the internal administration? How user-friendly is the system? Is there anything it doesn't do? Why was Atlas selected? How long will it take to implement the system in all the foreign offices? Is the same system installed in each office? How do you go about installation? So how would that work in an office like Dublin that only has a couple of people? ISSUE 29/25 MAY 1994 For some time, the Communica tions Division has been working on a new housestyle for the bank. The need for a total new look is part of a complete reassessment of Rabobank's Communications policy. Why is this necessary and what does it mean for the foreign offices. 'There are a number of reasons why we believe a change is essen- tial,' says Willem Lageweg, head of Communications in Utrecht. With co-worker Gert Sluis, he has developed the new strategy which is designed in part to improve the bank's overall image and increase consumer awareness. 'First, social relationships are changing at a rapid pace and as bank you have to respond to that,'Lageweg con- tinues. 'Another reason is in- creasing competition on the do- mestic market. A lot of already lar- ge banks have merged to become even larger in recent years. Then there are the smaller operators in In the coming years, the Atlas system will be installed at foreign offices around the world. Raboband asks Sjaak Verschoor why the system was selected and what advantages it will bring to the bank. 'People are probably more fami- liar with the name Internet - but in fact this is the company that supplies Atlas and a number of other systems, so I think we should try to get used to using the Atlas name. Essentially, Atlas is a so-called integrated system. This means that it has more than one function. It both adminsters the various products carried by a bank, ie. the loans, the payments, dealing-room transactions, and also the financial administra- tion.' 'That's right. The products sold by the bank generate all kinds of data which the system can then draw on to monitor the financial administration. It creates a bal- ance sheet, a profit and loss, and so on, and is geared to the stan- dards required by the reporting authority in the country con- cerned. If that's the Netherlands, specific markets, such as insurers and mortgage brokers - they may be small, but they shouldn't be underestimated. Finally, and this is the most interesting factor, the customer is changing.' An awareness of these factors led to extensive market research on what customers want, how they choose and subsequently perceive their banks, and the value they place on a close working rela- tionship with that bank. 'What we discovered ffom this research is that Rabobank clearly has its own clientele.'says Sluis. 'All you have to do is look at the advertising campaigns that are successful for other banks and you realise that they would definitely not appeal to our clients. So that means you don't start chasing customers at random. Our kind of cliënt ap- preciates equality and partner ship. They are sensitive to a really personal approach.' Lageweg agrees, commenting that although the bank also needs 'mass', ifyour basic approach is to focus on the dient, and on build ing a relationship, then everyone is served. 'And, as a cooperative then it would adhere to Dutch ac counting regulations. So that's why we call it an integrated system. 'It's a fairly complex system and that shouldn't be underestimated.' 'It does the normal product administration, but it cannot handle the more special ones, such as letters of credit. Atlas doesn't cater for the whole bank and the re will always be a number of functions which will have to be left to other systems. These have to be made compatible with Atlas. It is a core part of the structure that is being put in place for each office and, for example, Exim-bills, No vell, Transact are others.' 'We've been using the system for around five or six years here in Holland over time so we've built up quite a bit of expertise in using it. That means when we begin in- stallation in the foreign offices we have more know-how to offer them when it comes to tailoring their systems. Another factor is price. Because we are such big users in the Netherlands, the foreign offices can piggy-back on that. The company itself is com- mitted to major investment in the system, so we think we'11 be living with the system for many years. You never know, but we're not bank, that is what we've been doing for a very long time. It may not seem particularly revolution- ary, but it does mean that we will have to shift our emphasis, both in our marketing and in our com- munication.' The research also showed that the Rabobank logo evokes the wrong connotations. 'It was described as 'patronizing' and 'old fashioned',' says Sluis. 'We asked Professor Wim Crouwel, who designed the existing logo in 1972, what he thought of it now and he agreed that it lacks the elements needed for the years to come.' These ele ments are clear symbols of the bank's commitment to dient orientation, a sense of warmth The present... and what about the future? the only big bank using the sys tem, so I'm confident about it.' 'Realistically, we're talking years. And I don't think that ultimate- ly it will be implemented in all the offices. Some don't need a system like this. A primarily pri vate banking office wouldn't really use it. We have put to- gether a provisional program for the next two years. This year we'11 see the system installed and im plemented in Madrid, Dublin and Singapore. Madrid is online, we're currently in the middle of installing Dublin - it will be op- erational in June - and we're cur rently planning Singapore. The planning for that installation will be discussed in June and the start will probably be in September. Sydney, Milan and London are on the board for next year.' 'No, each office has a system tailored to its specific require- ments. Another thing we're cur rently looking at is the possibility of so-called regional data centres. This means you have a main frame located in one place, say Singapore, and from that point you service other offices in the sa- me geographical area. It comes down to networking, but then on and client-friendliness. And these elements are very much present in the proposed new logo,' says Lageweg. The new logo has been submitted to the so-called Central Delegate Assembly - Rabobank's answer to a parliament - for approval. Once this has been received the Com munications division can then organize further development. 'We'11 be introducing the new look in early 1995,' Sluis explains, 'but staff will see it in the fall of this year.' What does this process mean in practical terms for the foreign of fices? 'Well, nothing will change for some time. Organizing a pro ject as far-reaching as changing your house style is a complex business,' says Sluis, 'so we have established project teams to mo nitor the various steps in the pro cess. A separate project team has been set up for the international division. The foreign offices will be kept informed of any new de- velopments and in due course they will receive manuals which will help them adapt their situ- ation to the new house style.' a regional basis. That's not new, other banks already use the con cept, but we want to look at the consequences in terms of Com munications costs, risks. We'11 be looking at this in the coming months. It would be great if this worked because adding a further office to the network would be less complicated - we think.' 'It's definitely a joint approach between the Atlas team we have in Utrecht and the office con- cerned.' 'Well, clearly we would do it dif- ferently there. What we normally do in an existing office is tap the expertise of people concerned to get input on their specific require- ments. These are then used to customize Rabobank's Standard Atlas system to the office's needs. Then we put together a joint plan ning. The team from Utrecht comes in and, working with the office team, they implement the system. In Madrid's case, this was four or five weeks. In Singapore the implementation period will be much longer because there are a lot of people to train. So that is a more complex process. I can give you a better idea of how the in stallation works in a large office after Singapore.'

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