Private banking - a structureel approach for the future 6 International Real cooperation Enhancing relationships Code ofconduct Worldwide private banking activities already represent a significant contribution to the bank's bottom line. But there is, of course, always room for improvement. Head of private banking Thomas van Rijckevorsel and consultant Heinz Zimmer outline the structured strategy now firmly in place and explain how it utilizes the bank's existing infrastructure. Compared to specialist private banking organizations, Rabobank is a relatively small operation in this field. However, the world wide team of private bankers still takes care of NLG 4 billion in assets for around 11,000 clients. 'In the past,' says van Rijckevorsel, 'we have actually done a lot of good busi ness, both for our clients and for the bank. Now it is time to really expand and harness our potential in this very lucrative area.' Senior management clearly agrees. Last year, private banking activities were upgrad- ed into one of the bank's spearheads for growth. 'But that didn't mean we jumped in with both feet,' van Rijckevorsel explains. 'Before you can make inroads into a market like this, you must define clearly what you want to do, where you want to go, and how you're going to get there. It's no good just saying: we want growth and expecting it to happen without a structured plan. First of all, we put together an inventory of prospec- tive clients gleaned from our existing con- tacts and client-base worldwide.' Zimmer picks up the story: 'Rabobank is internationally known as a food and agri- business bank. In a very short period of time its clear focus means it has managed to grow very quickly. Now, food and agri people tend to be very wealthy people, and they could potentially have need of private banking ser vices. So we asked account managers around the world to answer almost impossible questions: how wealthy are your clients, how do you think they would react to Rabobank as private banker?' The response was tremendous. 'And they gathered and collated this information in addition to their daily work-load' says Zim mer. The information provided by account managers around the world gave the private banking team in Utrecht the basis for a sound inventory of the type of high net- worth individuels they are targetting. 'That is one of the three tools we needed for a struc tured approach,' van Rijckevorsel explains. 'Then we examined distribution channels to see if our existing international infrastructure could be utilized for private banking. The third element is a top quality product pack- age backed by know-how.' Both men believe that accountmanagers are enthusiastic about the concept of introducing an additional prod uct to their existing range, but most wanted to be reassured the bank was seriously com- mitted to pursuing private banking interna tionally. 'I would say we have managed to make them feel comfortable on this point,' says Zimmer. 'The bank employs a lot of very good people and they understand that international growth also means other fund- ing sources. Private banking can play a very significant role on the funding side, but it is also as a genuine business in itself.' The private banking team has also come up with a product package that shows its commitment. 'Because we want to utilize our existing infrastructure worldwide to ap proach clients,' van Rijckevorsel stresses, 'we have convinced local accountmanagers that their commercial relationship will be en- hanced, not jeopardized, by introducing a private banking colleague. We were not pre- pared to launch anything until we had everything in place.' Another important factor here is a decen- tralized approach. Because the bank's phil- osophy is: know your clients and know their needs, the approach will be decentralized, while drawing heavily on the specialist know-how located in core private banking centres. 'Essentially, we have two networks here which can enhance each other,' says van Rijckevorsel. 'We have our corporate accountmanagers throughout the world who have the local knowledge we private bankers need. And we also have our private banking network in important centres, such as Swit- zerland, Sao Paolo, Singapore, Guernsey, Luxembourg and so on, and now also through our new operation in Belgium. This office has been set up specifically to assist the member banks in the Netherlands, and to target Dutch expatriates who have or are planning to move abroad.' At present, the private banking network serves a wide variety of clients with very dif ferent assets. 'Some existing customers invest only relatively limited amounts with Rabo bank,' Zimmer says. 'Now, most private bankers categorize clients. Someone who shows $100,000 would be considered a "retail" cliënt. We want to take a different approach. We want to understand him because he may have far more assets that we have not been able to attract. Our job is to find out why and change that.' Attracting huge sums of money from so- called high net-worth individuals is ob- viously what private banking is all about. But the bank has not gained the reputation it currently enjoys through cutting (legal) cor ners. 'Clearly, our job is to generate income and growth for our clients and to discover legitimate ways to optimize fiscal structures for them,' says van Rijckevorsel. But it is not the private bankers' job to become involved in tax evasion or other illegal activities. 'While Rabobank does not want to appear holier than the pope,' Zimmer says, 'we really do have a very high ethical require- ment here. The bank has a very real code of conduct in place. The team will not be chasing the huge amounts of very mobile money in this world. The bank will take legitimately generated and earned monies to which it believes the private bankers can add value for clients. And with this new, clearly- defined structure in place, there should be little difficulty in attracting that kind of new assets from the client-base already put in place through the enormous efforts of our colleagues, specifically in the food and agri business, worldwide.'

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blad 'Raboband International' (EN) | 1995 | | pagina 6