.frerlo i s An interview with Mr. W. J. Slagter Staff journal of the ABN Bank, Amsterdam, Holland, and affiliations December 1979, No 4 When this edition of ABN Bank notes is delivered on your desks, it will be mid-December or a bit later. And we will stand on the threshold of another decade. We will close off the seventies, a period in which exasperating changes occurred in the world economy, changes which have also been felt in most private lives, wherever on this earth they are being lived. Booming oil-prices, dwindling currencies, political turn-arounds, the gold-price at its highest-ever level... to mention of few of those events which every one of you may have experienced from close by. In those seventies, in which the world has been crossing turbulent waters, we are grateful that our bank has followed a stable course and has definitely been able to progress. That is, as we feel it, the more important since we provide work so many people: nowadays 8,000 men and women outside the Netherlands, double the num ber of employees at 1969-end. We did not forget to strengthen our position in the homemarket. In particular by having acquired Bank Mees Hope and by build ing up our network of branches and enlarging our activities we have an increased, strong and stable share in the Dutch banking market, where we give employ ment to 19300 men and women. In these seventies we have con centrated our foreign policy on "expansion": branches were open- In the previous issue, Mr. P.J. Pistor summarized the developments in continental Europe. This time we look to the Far East which, together with Australia, is among the group of countries for which Mr. W.J. Slagter is responsible. "You are, of course, referring to Asia, or Southeast Asia," he pointed out politely but firmly. "Over there they do not call Europe 'the Far West'." We take his point! Mr. Slagter, 59, joined the Nederlandsche Handel-Maatschappij in Amsterdam in 1937. Immediately after the Second World War he was posted to Bombay. In the years which followed, he moved to Hongkong, Jakarta, Pontianak, back to Jakarta, Jeddah, Dammam and Calcutta. In 1970 he returned to Head Office, where two years later he was promoted to the rank of inspector. His appointment as general manager followed in 1975. You can look back on a long career. Has there, in your view, been any fundamental change in banking in that time? "Most certainly. Since I entered the bank, the change has actually taken place in three phases. Before the war, the Bank - the NHM - was something of an exclusive institution, if I may put it that way. The attitude towards the outside world was that if someone did not know that the NHM was a bank, he was not worth doing business with! As a private individual, it was something of a privilege to be allowed to bank with the NHM. Little was done to acquire new clients. "The first change in outlook came after the war. In a Southeast Asia devastated by the hostilities, it was a case of 'all hands to the pumps' to rebuild our business, and we had no qualms about going out and looking for new customers. "The second change came in 1959, when a large slice of our business disappeared following the nationalization of our twenty branches in Indonesia. That was a savage blow and one which did not fail to have consequences for other branches, for example Singapore. For several years we had to cut down on our staff, and in our attitude to business we were reticent and conservative. "The third change came about ten years later. Then we took on the modern approach to bank ing. We again took part in all manner of ventures and assumed an expansive mood. One important distinction between the Bank then and now is that the NHM operated mainly in Southeast Asia and had its headquarters in Amsterdam. Its services were limited, and our activities abroad consisted chiefly of pre- and post-financing of import and export transactions. The ABN, in contrast, is a true international bank with an immensely expanded range of services." Continued on page 4 and will not unlikely change still more. It seems not unreasonable to believe that progress in the eighties will be much more equi valent to "quality" rather than to "quantity". In an international organization like ABN's both as pects will certainly be present, but everfaster world communications, growing competition in interna tional banking and finance, new world-trade patterns and increas ing risks in certain sectors of countries and customers will most probably place an emphasis on quality and consolidation. No doubt, it means that ABN as an institution, and its personnel will face new challenges. Chal lenges that may be looked for ward to, however, with confi dence, since ABN has historically shown to be capable navigating successfully into new eras and areas. We wish you all a fine start of these eighties and hope your work will be satisfying and will contri bute to a happy and prosperous private life. Dr. A. Batenburg Chairman of the Managing Board ed in many countries particularly in Europe, North-America and the Middle-East and new affiliates were acquired in France, Switzer land and the U.S.A. The expan sion, however, did not only take shape through an increase of the number of offices, but also through a considerable growth of our assets. From 31st December 1969 till 30th June 1979 our Bank's balance sheet total advanc ed from 15.8 billion to 82.7 billion guilders! These growth figures are im portant for the presentation of our Bank to the outside world: customers who rely on our ser vices and financial resources. But they are equally important to demonstrate the efforts of our personnel, both in Holland and world-wide, to expand the Bank's activities. They are proof of the enthusiasm and sense of responsi bility which prevails within the ABN all over the globe. We are grateful for these achie vements. We would hope, of course, to reach a balanced pro gress in the eighties. Circum stances, however, have changed ABN Banknotes 'The future lies with Southeast Asia' Amsterdam wishes you a happy and prosperous New Year

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Algemene Bank Nederland - Banknotes | 1979 | | pagina 1