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Danny Nijhuis
Wholesale Banking: The sustainable world of tomorrow

The six challenges of the COO of ING Wholesale Banking
In this series of substantive interviews, Finaps enters into dialogue with thought leaders from the financial world. Today part 2: a nice conversation between Marlies van Sonsbeek (Managing Partner of Finaps) and Danny Nijhuis (COO of ING Wholesale Banking) in which the developments in the Wholesale Banking (WB) world are highlighted: What does today's world look like? How, for example, do you deal with increasing regulatory pressure and legacy? What does the world of tomorrow look like? A small teaser: the digital world of tomorrow is also about people, people and more people!

ING Wholesale Banking and the role of Nijhuis
Back to the beginning. What exactly does ING Wholesale Banking do and what is Nijhuis' role? Large corporates have unique needs: international payments, trade finance, financial markets and they take out large loans. This is, in a nutshell, Wholesale Banking. ING Wholesale Banking serves these multinationals in more than 40 countries.

As Chief Operating Officer (COO) of ING Wholesale Banking, Danny Nijhuis speaks with his team from Asia in the morning, his team from Europe in the afternoon and his team in America in the evening. Nijhuis has spent his entire working life in the financial world. Thirty years ago, he started as a data analyst and project leader at ABN Amro. After working extensively in the IT world and leading transformation programmes, he has been COO of ING Wholesale Banking since 2020.

In his role as COO, Nijhuis is responsible for product handling as well as transformation into the future. In addition, Nijhuis is responsible for WB CISO (Corporate Information Security Officer), for WB data management and data privacy and is in charge of the WB KYC (Know Your Customer) section. He monitors areas such as cybersecurity, fraud, business control and business continuity. In total, he manages some 4,000 people, about half of whom work in the Shared Service organisations in Manila and Bratislava. An enormous range of tasks and therefore capable of understanding the wholesale market like no other.
Danny Nijhuis
Thought Leader in de Wholesale Banking
Danny Nijhuis
Thought Leader in de Wholesale Banking
1. What is happening in the wholesale market?
6 Developments
2. The world of tomorrow
Sustainable pioneering and customer focus
3. Advice from Danny Nijhuis
Doing good for the world and the employees
What is happening now in the Wholesale market?

According to Nijhuis, six developments are underway:
1. Low interest rate
2. New players on the market
3. New technologies
4. Digital customer offer
5. Regulatory bodies
6. Legacy

Further highlighted:

1. This is an obvious one, in financial services there is the low interest rate environment. A bank like ING is very dependent on that interest rate for its income, so there is a challenge to generate more income in other areas.

2. There are new players on the market, such as Adyen, a very complete online payment platform. Nijhuis: "A few years ago no one would have thought of it, but if you look at their market share now, it is really big. For loans and financial markets, this development is still slow, according to Nijhuis, but there too it is only a matter of time.

3. Embracing the latest technologies - you can see that technology has become incredibly important, even in this coronary crisis. It's changing the world, and within Wholesale Banking you can't imagine doing without it. "If we want to remain relevant as ING, we will have to ensure that we are also a top player in terms of digital transformation."

4. A very important development is the increasing demands from regulatory bodies. It now comes down to being able to provide real-time data behind every transaction in great detail. And trace it all the way from source system to data lake to financial accounting,

"Some legacy IT systems are not equipped for that today so we have to do quite a bit of work to be able to deliver that data. Then the challenge is to demonstrate that the integrity is guaranteed.

The demands from external regulations will only increase on the organisation. What makes it even more difficult in that context is that there are no global regulations. They can differ per country. "That is why we try to get away from the 'must do' and focus on the 'want to do'. Of course, a lot of that regulation is also just good to protect the companies and the customers."

That is why ING Wholesale Banking has taken huge strides in recent years. Internal processes have been improved and a lot of new technology has been implemented. Investments have also been made in data privacy and cyber security. "Areas in which you have to continue to invest to ensure you remain a leader", says Nijhuis resolutely.
"We are therefore also trying to move away from the must and focus on the want, a lot of that regulation is of course also just good to protect the companies and the customers."
5. For good customer service in the world of Wholesale Banking, the relationship remains extremely important. In addition, customers expect a digital customer offer: simple, accessible anywhere and intuitive. To realise this, many companies still have quite a step to make.

Within Wholesale Banking, there used to be product silos. The Loans Institute, Financial Markets Institute and Payments Institute. Improvements and new ideas were always launched from the specific products. The current transition is towards end-to-end customer journeys and across products. Nijhuis: "The customer does not care how ING is organized internally, they are only interested in the impact on their business. Things must go smoothly and quickly. The customer journey has become the starting point and that process is then automated."

An additional challenge in this transformation is to get employees who have been working there for a long time to join in. It requires a different mindset, different skills and new competences. A nice bridge to the next development.

6. An increasingly urgent development is legacy. Many of these legacy systems can no longer be adapted to the aforementioned customer requirements. Also, sometimes additional fields cannot be added when required by the regulatory authorities. "Then you get in trouble with the regulations again." The consolidation of all IT systems remains an important issue.

"If you look back a few years, it was the employees who used the systems. Now and in the future, it will also be the customers and the regulators. With the advent of PSD2, a lot is public. So where there used to be a closed ING ecosystem, you now see that open banking has become the norm. At some point, other banks will start providing services to us and vice versa. Very interesting, but how do you ensure that security and integrity are properly regulated? That's why ING is putting a lot of effort into standardising the various systems and phasing out legacy environments.
The world of tomorrow: sustainable pioneering and customer focus
To be ready for the world of tomorrow, Nijhuis believes it is about sustainable pioneering and a continuation of the digital transformation to put the customer first.

Making an impact on the world

What Nijhuis sees in young employees around the world is that they want to do impactful work. Something he is also fully committed to. People want to contribute to a better society. At ING Wholesale Banking, sustainable pioneering is an important topic to work on for a better world. Think, for example, of "Green" loans. Sustainable pioneering binds new generations to ING Wholesale Banking.

Nijhuis explains: "The companies that will survive are those that have been able to make a link between their goal and the goal of the younger people. To do good things for society with the younger generation."

Customer focus
Besides sustainable pioneering, it is all about putting the customer first. Nijhuis enthusiastically explains: "We must ensure that we make the digital transformation and that we put the customer first in everything we develop. We must know which customers we want to serve. And then work from an open environment with partners. That is the future and it brings us directly to our motto: "Empowering people to stay a step ahead in life and in business.

"If you ask me about the ideal world and which companies will survive, it is companies that have been able to make a link between their purpose and the purpose of younger people."
What do you want to give away?
Nijhuis doesn't have to think about it for long: "It is and remains human work. If we all do it together, the workload will be less. People's mental health will improve and there will be better interaction. And the customer will be much happier. Doing good for the world and giving employees the feeling that they are doing impactful work makes them happy to go home again.

Something I learned from Marlies: Do the things you do 100% well, don't go for 70%. This applies not only to the bank but to all sectors. And finally: give young people challenging opportunities and they will surprise you. Don't be too reticent in this.

"Doing good for the world and making the employees feel like they are doing impactful work that makes them go home happy as well."