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Inside View: ABN Amro Bank

Dutch bank an example of largest lenders warming to innovation

Thu Nov 26 2015

ABN Amro, the Dutch bank that was valued at €16.7 billion during its IPO this month, is an example of the biggest banks that are warming to innovation.

Last year it announced plans cut up to 1,000 jobs in its retail bank and invest significantly in its digital platform. But the lender is keen to recruit once more and business schools are a key talent pipeline.

ABN Amro said it will spend $187 million on improving customer transactions online and by mobile phone by 2018. Its mobile banking app was used more than 54 million times in June this year alone.

ABN Amro also joined the ranks of banks investing in start-ups that can help accelerate its digital transformation, setting up this year a €10 million Digital Impact Fund.

It is also exploring the bitcoin blockchain technology through its Innovation Center.

Speaking to BusinessBecause Frans van der Horst, senior managing director at ABN AMRO Bank, runs the rule on banks’ big data, cyber security and finding digital talent.

How important are business schools as a talent pipeline to the bank?

Business schools and universities are important to us when it comes to hiring new potential talent. We are constantly looking for new talent.

We closely work together with several schools and universities.

Graduates do not always automatically think of a bank as an employer…. Most of them are surprised about the opportunities ABN Amro offers when it comes to personal development, career opportunities and challenges.

Can the financial services industry move fast enough to avoid being overtaken by digital challengers?

ABN Amro continues to invest in the ongoing development of our digital services and we are also working closely with our clients on their mobile banking. We invest €850 million in order to keep our system state of the art, safe, stable and agile.

On the other hand, constructing full-service banking infrastructure and a network is complicated. Technology is one reason, comprehensive regulation another.

Will mobile banking at some point become the dominant way we access our accounts?

The rise of the smartphone has resulted in fundamental changes in consumer behaviour. Clients are connected around the clock and want businesses to adapt their services accordingly. They’re used to being informed proactively about important matters.

Digitization is increasingly important in daily life. For example, our mobile banking app helps satisfy our clients’ wish for real-time information about their finances. It enables them to manage their money more effectively. The ABN Amro mobile banking app….Was used over 54 million times in June 2015 and the number of log-ins via the app is now three times as high as the number via desktop internet banking.

But we believe in the balance between digital/mobile and personal advice - that is why we invest both in the further improvement of our offices, where customers can come for more services, in combination with further investment in mobile technology. 

Is finding the talent to deal with new digital services a challenge?

Because our customers are banking more and more [through] digital, and regulation and supervision have tightened up, we are now looking especially for IT, compliance and legal professionals.

ABN Amro has therefore chosen a new approach and method of recruitment aimed at accessing these target groups: 1-on-1 [interviews], social media, [and] campus recruitment models. This approach works: our recent campaign led to an increase in the influx of scarce IT professionals.

Banks have vast amounts of data about consumer transactions and spending habits. What potential do you see for the use of data to improve services?

ABN Amro uses customer data primarily for advising customers on their personal financial matters. [And] for example, [in] the fight against crime/fraud.

There have been large-scale data breaches. How much of a focus is cyber security in light of attacks?

Security is a top priority for ABN Amro. We work hard every day to maintain and improve our systems and processes in order to establish an online banking environment that is available, safe and secure at all times. 

ABN Amro has extensive security methods and technologies in place to protect the transactions and details that are transmitted over the internet, but no system can ever be guaranteed as 100% safe. 

Rapidly advancing technology and the open nature of the internet, for example, make it difficult to achieve watertight security.