El How has Rabobank International changed since 2002, the year you became Chairman of Rabobank's Executive Board? 0 What have been the major achievements since 2002? El Are there things we did that you now regret? El Do you think Rabobank International will eventually be integrated in a Rabobank worldwide cooperative model? El How would that work? 0 Will there be resistance? 0 What would you say to your successor Piet Moerland? A "One of the reasons I accepted the invitation to be chairman was that l'd again be working for a bank with a strong international presence. I truly loved my 12 years at Van Lanschot, a small but perfectly formed Dutch private bank, but before that I worked for 23 years at Amro Bank (later ABN AMRO, ed), largely in international banking. I saw myself as a truly international banker, so it was a welcome challenge tojoin Rabobank when itwas expanding its international network. I also liked the fact that the international business was partly linked to the very specific nature of Rabobank as a cooperative bank and its roots in Food and Agribusiness. "On the other hand, we were operating pretty much like other international banks. So we decided that we should shape the international strategy much more in line with Rabobank's origins. RI's core focus would be on the F&A chain, as a wholesale bank and as a retail bank where appropriate. That strategy has certainly paid off. We now have very successful retail banking operations in Australia, the US, Poland, Brazil, Chile and other countries. In most of those countries profits have tripled in the past few years." A"l thinkit'sfairto say that keeping Rl trueto Rabobank's roots and its cooperative ethos should be seen as a major achievement. Of course, we could have made more profit if we'd focused more on investment banking, but what we've done is build a sustainable and profïtable business with a tremendous long-term outlook. Very importantly, Rl fits Rabobank. While other big banks are hastily selling off businesses they no longer consider core, we're still expanding internationally. This is not to say Rl should not be involved in investment banking to service our clients as fully possible, but it should never overshadow our overall focus on commercial retail banking. I'm very proud of the fact that we've successfully developed businesses like trade and commodity fïnance, especially in soft commodities, and sustainable banking, such as the financing of non-fossil sources of energy." A 'The cooperative ethos could be best captured by the Dutch word zelfredzaamheid, which translates roughly as self-sufficiency or the ability to take care of yourself. In other words, never expose yourself to too much risk. I thinkthe fact that we're one of the very few major banks worldwide that has not needed government help proves that we kept risk at manageable levels. Of course, we made mistakes. We also developed certain structured fïnance products that were, in hindsight, a mistake. And I wish l'd been more cautious. Luckily, we recognised those mistakes quickly enough and our exposure was never so high that it might have destroyed Rabobank. Indeed, I'm grateful to our people at Rl that they limited losses to the extent they did." ATve said from the very beginning that ifwe do not succeed in giving Rl a more cooperative structure, we will fail in the long run. Most of Rabobank's future growth will come from Rl. That's a fact. But if Rl is purely profit oriented, I believe we'll see a cultural split from our Dutch business, which will make it difficult to co-exist in one organisation. After all, the point of cooperative banking is that your members - your clients - have the most influence on what you do and how you do it at certain levels. That should be true for all our operations, worldwide." A "Well, we already have clients sitting on advisory boards in the US and Australia, giving advice on the products and services we should be offering. If this works well, we could give these boards the power to decide on certain issues. Not the likes of capital allocation, of course, but on issues such as how we structure the business for our clients, what services we provide, what the risks and opportunities are in a country and also the charities we support and how much capital we allocate to those charities. And I hope that the people in these boards will eventually join the general assembly as advisers. I don't believe we can confine the power to decide on what we do in, say, the US or Latin America to only our Dutch members. This will not happen tomorrow, but I believe we will have to give Rl customers a say in what we do in their countries. That would create a structure that no other bank in the world has even tried to create. Every bank says that the cliënt is king, but Rabobank's raison d'être is what we can do for our clients. That should be the overriding premise for everything we do, and for the people whojoin us." A 'There is a certain amount of resistance from the Dutch member banks and from Rl itself, but that is based on the misunderstanding that we would intend to return the capital Rl has generated to our members, or clients, in the various countries with no strings attached. That is not the case. However, if we can prove that a cooperative-like model works for Rl and we introducé it carefully, step by step, people will see that it can indeed work. All of our clients, or at least those that wish to be involved, should have some say in what we do. That is what makes Rabobank unique." A "I trust that Piet will continue on the course we have set out. He has been my colleague over the past 6.5 years, and he strongly supported our strategie choices. Piet is a cooperative banker both by birth and conviction, whereas I chose it at a later stage of my banking career. We both truly believe we are on the right track and ifwe can stay true to Rabobank's roots and the cooperative ethos, we could achieve something quite momentous. Something no other bank has done, or even tried to do." issue 20 THE WORD

Rabobank Bronnenarchief

blad 'RI The Word / The Word' (EN) | 2009 | | pagina 5