Running Operations whilst Managing Change at Rabobank International Direct Banking
Rabobank International Direct Banking (IDB) and Schuberg Philis have been working together for seven years already: Schuberg Philis is responsible for the management of the IT infrastructure of Rabobank IDB’s online banking operations; designing, building and managing the IT infrastructure of existing as well as new online banks; guaranteeing 100% functional availability of online banking services. Rabobank IDB is highly successful with ambitious growth plans for the future. So how does the collaboration aim to realise these ambitions? We talk to André van der Linden, Senior VP and Head of Shared Services at Rabobank International Direct Banking.
With online banks in Australia, Belgium, Ireland and New Zealand, Rabobank IDB positions itself successfully in these countries as a local online bank for savings and investments, with a different approach to banking than traditional banks.
“Our online banks are relatively small players in their countries and we have to be able to differentiate ourselves from the well-established names. We do that with honesty: we call ourselves ‘the straight talking online bank’,” says André van der Linden, Head of Shared Services at Rabobank International Direct Banking. “There’s no such thing as ‘small print’ in our operation – if we make a mistake we hold up our hands and we’re honest about it. Our secret is simplicity; we aim to provide an excellent service, the best products and provide such an excellent customer experience that clients become our ambassadors and recommend us to others. It’s a simple formula and it works.”
At the end of 2010, Rabobank International Direct Banking held €11,6 billion in savings, realising 60 percent growth in 2010. Consequently, it plays an important role in Rabobank Group’s total funding strategy. One of the drivers behind the growth of International Direct Banking is the increased need for stable funding as a result of the Basel III standard. This standard has been developed by the financial regulators in response to the Global Financial Crisis. Rabobank IDB provides Rabobank Group with the opportunity to grow further internationally resulting in additional investments in Rabobank IDB to facilitate growth in terms of channels, product offering and the number of banks.
Running operations whilst managing change
Van der Linden: “Our growth targets set high requirements on our online banking IT environment. The existing operation must run seamlessly in terms of quality, availability and stability with an increasing focus on security and compliance. People must know that their money and personal information are safe with us.
Over the next few years, we will most likely introduce new banks in other countries. At the same time, existing banks must continue to operate without problems and we have to be able to introduce new products continuously. ’Time to market’ for new banks and products is extremely important in order to stay competitive. Schuberg Philis acts as our conscience: they guard our list of demands for the banks’ IT environment. For example, if we want a short-term solution, they will always show us the medium to long term consequences and highlight risks we might have forgotten, where other providers would simply present the costs of realising our short-term solution. As a result, the collaboration with Schuberg Philis leads to a more sustainable and durable banking environment.”
“I’ve been working with Rabobank International Direct Banking since 2007 and they had already been working with Schuberg Philis for three years,” explains André van der Linden. “I thought I wouldn’t have enough direct control of what is happening within Schuberg Philis, but nothing could be further from the truth. Yes, Schuberg Philis is an external company, but from the very beginning I felt that they were an integral part of our team as it had successfully been constructed by my predecessor. I experience their commitment and involvement constantly; they seem equally happy and proud of our success as we are. And they share our vision and drive: customers so satisfied that they recommend us to friends. This is absolutely evident in the way they work: they want to know our customer profile; how they experience our services; and how they react to changes in the IT environment.
Schuberg Philis has also surprised me with their 100% guarantee inasmuch as I had assumed it to be a cute marketing slogan, but they really live up to it. It is ingrained in their attitude, in how they deal with things and their striving for perfection. Schuberg Philis wants to do everything in the best way possible, achieve maximum results and continuously improve. And if they have achieved a goal, they’ve already set the next one.
It is an attitude that determines everything and that has influenced us as well: you cannot expect 100% if you don’t give 100% yourself. So we treat them as an extension of our team, not as a vendor. We invest in the relationship; providing them with the full context of the banking world, the markets in which we operate and the (strategic) goals we have. In addition to our regular meetings, I visit Schuberg Philis twice a year and give them an update on the current banking environment and trends, our achievements and goals, and give feedback to the team regarding their performance and contribution. I only do this with Schuberg Philis, because they listen, they’re interested and assimilate the information into the way they work. They understand the business of Rabobank IDB more than ever and they help us realise our strategy. It’s all about delivering an excellent customer experience to our customers, we rely and depend on Schuberg Philis to be able to deliver this.”