Rabobank Nederland, located in the Netherlands was among the 50 largest banks in the world in 1983 with total assets of over $42 billion. Rabobank had approximately 900/0 lending market share in the agricultural industry and 40% market share in the residential real estate loan base. Rabobank was a quality bank and served the Netherlands well. In 1981, Rabobank opened its first foreign branch in New York. Hugo Steensma was given the task to be the general manger of the New York branch. The New York branch's strategy was to compete by building on its experience and contacts in agribusiness and to become involved with other agribusiness cooperative banks. Rabobank was facing issues that many expanding companies dealt with. As Rabobank expanded they had to keep their information systems updated which helped the account management side of the business. The most important issue they faced was to find the right mix of controls in order to choose the most profitable and safe loans for the company.
Role of the Account Manager at Rabobank Nederland
Key Recurring Decisions
According to Hugo Steensma, general manager of the New York branch of Rabobank, the goal of the account manager is to "book good deals, period." However, in order for this to happen, the account manager must make smart choices when facing several recurring decisions in this role. One of the first decisions to be made is to identify the right clients in the agribusiness industry to pursue and then decide how to effectively market to them. The account manager also has to decide how to tailor the credit application for each individual client because there is no standard format used. Additionally, they must face the decision of acceptable risk levels for each individual loan and how to structure the loan based on the varying risk levels. If they do not make these decisions effectively, a great deal of time could be wasted on loan processes that do not materialize into loans.
Critical Success Factors
There are several critical success factors of the account manager role that are necessary for these recurring decisions to be handled effectively. The most important success factor is that the account manager has experience in this industry. The account manager must be able to successfully target clients, market to them, prepare a specific credit application for them, and then analyze the deal to make a decision. This prior experience will give the account manager a much better ability to analyze the clients and prevent bad loans from being made and is critical to their overall success. Time management is another critical success factor of this role, and these time management skills must merge with their experience to avoid wasting valuable time on clients that will not be approved for a loan. Finally, teamwork is a critical success factor of the account manager's role. This role has a variety of tasks that must be completed successfully in order to end up closing the loans, and the strengths of one manager can make up for the weaknesses of another if teamwork is strong. This will ultimately lead to more deals being made and a better company culture.
The account managers at Rabobank were given the opportunity to book deals the way they saw fit. There were not many procedures and controls in place for the account managers. Account managers were given considerable autonomy where they were free to find potential clients on their own. The account managers were empowered to make decisions that they thought would produce the best results. One personnel control was that only experienced account managers were hired, who needed little training. A couple action controls were in place at Rabobank's New York branch. Loans above $1 million had to be approved by the New York Credit Committee and loans more than $5 million had to be approved by the Credit Committee in the Netherlands. This action control helped Rabobank mitigate the...
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