Rabobank - Simply the best illii 3 International activities during the 'Dairy year' and an em- phasis on the need for a layered approach over a number of years appeared to satisfy the GMs. The grain and oil seed industries will be the focus of 1995. Inhouse seminars Training was another focal point. There was general agreement on the need for more courses to introducé the food and agribusiness sector to newly recruited staff. This need was emphasized by the acceptance that this sector requires a range of specific knowledge and few new personnel ffom other areas of the bank ing industry tend to have this know-how. A suggestion to set up seminars using both ex- ternal and interna! experts from autumn this year was welcomed, although the notion of an account manager's manual detailing basic statistics and information on all agri-sectors was not greeted with great enthusiasm. The argument against publishing such a manual was the danger of losing copies to the compe- tition. On the other hand, the announcement of indepth studies on general food companies and food retail operations to be published this year was applauded. Condusions Following four days of speeches, work groups and presentations, notably from Niek Streef- kerk's agri-project finance team outlining their activities worldwide, Friday afternoon was given over to conclusions. The standardiz- ation of computer systems was recognized as an essential move towards improving report- ing and efficiency, and Atlas is seen as a step in the right direction, with Sybase implement- ed in all offices in 1995. At the beginning of the week everyone knew the division as a whole was behind budget. Further main points were the imbalance in income. Great focus at all the offices is needed to correct that balance, so that the bank moves away from an as- setdrives position towards a return-driven organization. 'We are still a young organiz- ation' Van Slingelandt says, 'so there are growing pains, because a lot of our branches have not yet achieved critical mass and are still looking for equilibrium. But we are not man agers for nothing, and as managers should be out in our markets all the time. What we need is an improvement in product/market com- bination, as well as an awareness of our sol- vency position. In other words, we need syn- ergy and equilibrium so that we will simply be the best - both literally and figuratively.' -< ISSUE 30/27 JUNE 1994 Aithough 1994 results are currently lagging behind budget, there was still an air of confidence at the annual general managers conference held in early June. The reasons for the lag are primarily extremely tough targets and an unstable situation in much of the world. But, as the GMs agree, the year is not over yet and there is still time enough to catch up. Return on solvability >- The usual five-day meeting was crammed into four this year as general managers took time out to attend the bank's Annual Members Meeting (see page 4). But the time available was used to the full, especially for discussions on improved return on solvability which is seen as one way of achieving the international division's tough targets. After division chief Van Slingelandt's opening comments, the GMs got straight down to working groups on solvency, solvability and reporting before con- solidating results of these discussions. The bottom line was a need for more inventiveness and creativity in the search for the balance re- quired to function well and continue growing. As Van Slingelandt pointed out: 'sometimes it goes great, sometimes less great, but we're full of confidence in the organization and are not proposing policy or strategy changes'. Learning processes One of the highlights of the conference was the presentations given by Germany's Albert Sonntag on the ongoing reorganization of the bank's operations there. Germany occupies an exceptional position in the international division's structure in that the operation was acquired as a working retail bank. Over time, it has moved gradually towards full wholesale activities and this has meant a lot of changes in organization. 'What we have done is in- volve all staff in the shaping and thinking pro- cess', says Sonntag. 'And I would say we've achieved extremely positive results in develop- ing wholesale-client orientation within our offices. In fact, some of our middle-manage- ment teams have proved even more aggressive that I envisaged at the start. It really is a good sign and I think other offices can learn The now-traditional group portait shows the division is growing all the time. from what we are doing. (This process is still ongoing at the German offices and Raboband International will bring a full report in the autumn.) Food Agribusiness The presentation on food and agri developed into a full-scale discussion. Cor Broekhuyse outlined the current state of play within mar kets worldwide, pointing out shifts in domi- nance following GATT, NAFTA and other in ternational agreements. In many sectors, South-East Asia represents a major growth market, which will mean New Zealand and Australia are well-placed to service these mar kets, both geographically and in terms of pro- ducts, as there is a marked trend there towards value-added and away from traditional bulk products. Broekhuyse reiterated the leading role of Rabobank in these markets. 'Very few banks are involved in food and agribusiness the way we are' he says. Worldwide, there are only around 10 at most, so we are very well positioned and we have a lot of room to grow. In fact, we are growing. You just have to look at the figures to see trade finance is well above budget.' Sector focus The coordinated market approach introdu- ced some years ago, whereby each year ac count managers focus on increasing market share in a specific area was questioned by some GMs. Basically, the one-year period was considered too short to make real inroads in to a sector. However, a clear increase in dairy ifiagagasBfflBBii

Rabobank Bronnenarchief

blad 'Raboband International' (EN) | 1994 | | pagina 3