2 Rabobank Group Annual Report 2002 Chairman's foreword For Rabobank Group, 2002 was a turbulent year. It was turbulent because economic growth virtually slowed down to a standstill and stock exchanges deteriorated even further, with a series of corporate scandals in the United States fuelling the flames. And it was also turbulent owing to the various internal reorganisations and efficiency drives and the changes at top management level. Despite all this, 2002 was not a bad year for Rabobank Group. Indeed, it is a year we may justifiably be proud of, given the difficult conditions. The retail banking business performed better than in 2001. In spite of the turbulent conditions in the financial markets, the result from the wholesale banking business was likewise higher than a year ago.The result from investment activities and asset management was under severe pressure due to the unfavourable stock exchange climate. The effects of this were more than offset by the contribution from acquisitions in the United States. Results from lease activities showed yet another handsome improvement. Results from insurance activities clearly lagged behind, however. This was due especially to the negative returns on the securities portfolio and to significantly higher non-life charges. In short, 2002 was a year of stable results, albeit at a lower level than we are accustomed to.They were the fruits of the tremendous effort and team spirit of our employees, for which I thank them. It was also a year in which we reaped the first benefits of the efficiency programmes started earlier. For me, building on team spirit is one of the biggest challenges for the years to come - team spirit, in the Executive Board, in senior management and in the co-operation between Rabobank Nederland, the local Rabobanks in the Netherlands and the Group entities.Team spirit in all echelons of Rabobank Group is the key to achieving market leadership throughout the financial services sector in the Netherlands, which is the aspiration that underlies our Strategic Framework.The latter was renewed in the year under review and is the key to further bringing our house in order. Within our refocused strategy, this is our first priority and demands streng thening our selling power and continuing cost reduction efforts. Results for 2002 reflect Rabobank Group's intrinsic power as the largest provider of financial services in the Dutch market. This power can be characterised by two core concepts: nearby and diverse.Through the local Rabobanks, Rabobank Group has the most finely meshed financial distribution network, both physical and virtual, in the Netherlands. Through its subsidiaries, the Group offers a highly variegated range of financial services and products. This position nearby its broad customer base, in conjunction with the great diversity of its activities, enables Rabobank Group to achieve stable results, now and in the future, and thereby to continue to respond to the ever changing needs of customers.

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Annual Reports Rabobank | 2002 | | pagina 4