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FEATURES


ABNAmroboxes clever towinmarket share


BIG INTERVIEW WRITTENBY YURIBENDER


ABNAmro’s Choy-Lin van der Hooft-Cheong discusses plans to boost business in the group’s core European markets and the continued importance of face-to-face relationships


D


utch bankABNAmro is looking to re-establish itself as amajor wealth manager in several core European


markets. The sale of a strategic Asian


private banking business, managing $20bn in the vibrant heartlands of Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai, to LGT in 2017 signalled the parent institutionwas in retreat fromthe international arena. Further cuts of 800 corporate banking jobs across Asia, the US and Latin America announced during the highpoint of the coronavirus pandemic in 2020 confirmed the newregional European agenda. “We will follow the corporate


strategy of the bank,which is to be a strong north-west European player,” says Choy-Lin van derHooft-Cheong, CEOofABNAmroMeesPierson, responsible for the group’s global private banking franchise, outlining an “integrated approach”, bringing together investment banking and portfolio management. “Our focus is on extending the business here and seeinghow different units of the bank can more closelywork together.” Managed assets fell from€195bn


to €190bn ($226bn) during 2020, triggered by negative interest rates as the bank began to charge clients for holding cash. But these outflows were partially offset by market performance and the Amsterdam-


8 APRIL/MAY 2021


based private banking boss plans to bring in newassets by offering a more “intense experience” to entrepreneurial clients seeking a broader range of services.


EXPANSIONPLANS Following the first stage of her blueprint to promote inter- departmental co-operation in the bank’s Netherlands’ home market, where it is the leading player, the next is about improving connectivity in neighbouring countries. “For the private bank, we hold


a top three position in Germany, top five in France and top ten in Belgium,” serving 100,000 clients across the four key markets. “Wewant to hold this position


and growour business in these countries. Our clients are operating internationally and wewant to serve them in other geographies,which is important to them.” The Covid pandemic, she


believes, is one of several factors transforming private banking, alongside digitalisation and transfer of assets to a younger generation. Video banking has not only found favour with themajority of clients but also proved a more efficient communication channel for relationship managers. “It means you can meet five clients


in a day compared to two or three when you were travelling,” she says. Alongside this increased efficiency


she has seen theemergence of a series of“moments of truth”, redefining the client-adviser relationship. “Clients will stillhave the need to see youface-to-face,” saysMsvander Hooft-Cheong, recounting a recent exchange with an entrepreneur whohaddisposed of his operating businessduring the pandemic. The businessman, with $50m in his bank account, demanded to


Choy-Lin van der Hooft-Cheong, above, favours an integrated approach, bringing together investment banking and portfolio management


speak with both private bankers and portfolio managers, to determine whether they “clicked” and if he could trust them with his money. “He was very frank about these matters,” she admits. “In these moments of truth, it matters very much to see one another, face-to-face.”


TRAININGPARTNER Rather than the more formal relationship commonto Swiss banks, Ms van der Hooft-Cheong prefers the analogy of a personal training coach, using boxing pads to spar with fitness clients in the local park. “Our aim is to be one of the most


important sparring partners for our private clients, advising themhow


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