'OUR PEOPLE ARE MAKING THE STRATEGY WORK 4 customer value What's NewS Issue 9 October 1997 It is almost 18 months ago since the first move towards developing the customer focus strategy on an organization wide basis was initiated. For months, Rabobank International turned itself inside out and examined indepth every aspect of itself, its culture and its ways of working in a rapidly changing environment.There was clear consensus on one point and that was the way forward. Everyone agreed we should focus our activities in areas where we could pursue a valuable focus strategy for our clients.The shift in mind-set and organization has not been an easy one. But, if the interim figures are anything to go by, we are getting there, we are getting at a stage in Rabobank International's development where our customer focus translates into value for the cliënt - and for Rl. Arthur Arnold As this issue of What's NewS goes to press, our Marketing department will be putting the final touches to a rather different interim report for RI. This is not only a listing of figures and numbers (they are actually very encouraging), it also contains a selection of the transactions (provided by all our offices) that we have done for our customers throughout the network since the beginning of the year and organized according to the customer focus approach. 'We are definitely beginning to see the results of generating customer value by acting as more of an intermediary in structuring solutions for the customer,' says Arnold, 'and away from being an investor by increasing our loan portfolio on our balance sheet only.' THE BIG ISSUE At the same time, Arnold is convinced the quality of the deals we are now doing shows both greatly increased focus and networking. 'Most of them are a direct result of teamwork between the people regardless of where they are located. That, I think, is a big improvement.' He believes firmly that the network is becoming less sensitive to where a deal is ultimately hooked. 'That's because of the single bottom line concept,' he argues. 'We have now built that into the 1998 budget process. You start to consolidate results, and you look at activities along business lines following our customer target groups. If you go through the business plans that were distributed around the network recently, you will see they are clearly compilations of all our business activities in all the different offices following our seven customer focus groups.' MAKING CHOICES Yet, in spite of the promising numbers (see sidebar) which appear to confirm belief not only in the feasibility of the customer focus strategy, but also its efficiency in carrying RI into a strong niche position for the future, not everyone is clear on how the whole thing fits together. Some uncertainty has arisen around the almost exclusive emphasis on food and agri, leading some to ask: what about non-food and agri? How do we meet our other business targets when so much is being injected into our image as a global F&A bank? Apparently, Arnold is not suffering from any lack of clarity. 'When you make choices,' he says, 'you make choices. We decided together about the do's and don'ts. And you have to stick to that. It's hard. But once you underwrite a strategy - RI'STOP SEVEN The customer focus strategy distinguishes seven very specific customer focus groups: Food and agri-corporates Health care Dutch corporates operating internationally International corporates Financial institutions International high net-worth individuals Rabobank organization Arthur Arnold 'Enabling is the key word'. remember, we all did - then you have to implement it and accept the consequences. That's what we're doing.' BUSINESS BENCHMARKS There has been some muttering in the ranks about time consuming and even large deals that didn't make it through the credit committee at head office, and about the concentration on F&A to the detriment of other sectors. 'I don't understand that,' Arnold says. 'We made the choice for a customer focus strategy and we have clearly defined the seven customer target groups we are focusing on. All of our people in the network can continue to serve our customers, including those who are not in the F&A or health care sectors, if they meet the minimum requirements laid down in the strategy. You can do international corporates, in fact they are a target group, provided you meet the benchmark. And we actively encourage that. What we don't encourage, and what will not pass the credit committee is a straight USD 500 million loan to XYZ motor company at 25 basis points. If you are clear on the customer focus strategy, then you know that a deal like that will never be approved.' STRATEGIC SHAKE-UP Arnold agrees that people may have thought the customer focus strategy was just another fashion, one of those intermittent shake-ups that happen from time to time in organizations. 'Fm sure

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blad 'What's news' (EN) | 1997 | | pagina 4