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Ger van Rosmalen.

Developing a Specialty Service: An Insider's View

Ger J. van Rosmalen is the Manager, Foreign Department for F. van Lanschot Bankiers N.V. located in Breda, the Netherlands. A member of the Finance, Credit and International Business Association (FCIB) Advisory Council for the past two years, Rosmalen joined the FCIB Board of Directors in November 1999.

Rosmalen began his career in the banking business in 1974. "My background is in business, and I have always been attracted to banking," he reflected. "When I left school, there was an opening in the LC Department in a local bank. I applied for the position and got the job. Although I took a number of courses at the Dutch Banking Institute and investigated other areas of business, such as stock exchange and credit services, I always came back to trade finance because the import and export business is both exciting and interesting. I enjoy having the opportunity to travel, meet people from other cultures and learn different ways of transacting business."

In 1980, Rosmalen took a management position at a small trade finance bank, which later became the Deutsche Bank in Amsterdam. He left this position to become Manager of the Trade Finance Department of Banque Nationale de Paris in Amsterdam. In 1987, he joined F. van Lanschot Bankiers N.V. as Manager, Foreign Department and was given the responsibility to develop and expand the department's specialty service.

F. van Lanschot Bankiers N.V. is the fifth largest Dutch universal bank. The van Lanschot brand name is one of the most highly regarded in the Netherlands, particularly in the private banking market. Established in 1737 in the city of 's-Hertogenbosch, some 80 kilometers south of Amsterdam, the bank still maintains its head office there. Its domestic network of 35 offices concentrates on private, corporate and investment banking; treasury and capital market activities; and selected niches in retail marketing. Outside the Netherlands, van Lanschot's operations are centered around international private banking, with offices in Belgium, Switzerland, Curacao, Luxemburg and Jersey. Currently, van Lanschot employs a total work force of approximately 2,000.

"As a manager of the Trade Finance Department, I am responsible for two teams: one is based in Breda, near the Belgium border, and the other is located in Rotterdam. My job is to ensure that both teams consistently provide excellent service to all of our customers. Lanschot has five such offices in the Netherlands, and I am responsible for two of them."

Rosmalen described the service that his Trade Finance Department offers as a hidden specialty within Lanschot Bankiers. "We have developed a very specialized service in the field of trade finance for corporations: we supply our customers with 'same day handling' of their Letters of Credit (LC) documentary transactions. We give special attention to the quality of documentation, allowing for no discrepancies in any documents that we prepare. We have customers located throughout Europe and several in the US. We compete with banks all over Europe." Rosmalen noted that their customers consist of private clients, family-owned businesses and corporations.

"Training is a very important component of the services that we offer," he observed. "I personally do a lot of on-the-job training all over Europe and in the United States. Every company has its own unique culture, and training must be tailored to suit its particular profile. Both the sales and the financial people in the companies we work with are taught how to give instructions on the documentation that they provide to us. Preparing and providing the proper documentation not only enables us to deliver fast and efficient service, but it also protects the customers in all of their business transactions."

Regarding his staff, Rosmalen observed, "I have an excellent team of specialists whom I have personally selected and trained. If I am in the office and the workload is heavy, I work with my team, advising them and reviewing the documents. Our business is experiencing an energetic growth which we are carefully monitoring in order to continue providing our customers the same outstanding service."

Identifying professional challenges, Rosmalen remarked that providing customers with the best possible service is a constant challenge. "Working with our clients as a team, we are obligated to settle each transaction without delay. A bigger challenge, however, is to convince prospective clients that working with a specialized bank using trade finance is an excellent way to expand their foreign business."

"An important part of my job is acquiring new corporate clients," Rosmalen confided. "My job is to convince the client that since we can provide a one-day turnaround document service, the distance to the Netherlands ceases to be an issue. We have a client in Europe who opened offices in Houston, Texas, and we handle that business as well. We continue to grow with our clients."

An active member Of FCIB since 1992, Rosmalen has attended all of the European conferences and served as a panel member on numerous occasions. In response to the increasing number of questions regarding documentation that regularly occurred during the General Conference, he started the Documentary Service Group, which meets on the Monday following the General Conference. Anyone can join the meeting to ask for and share information about documentary business. Rosmalen currently serves as Vice Chairman of this group. He also recently joined the Membership Committee.

As a member of the FCIB Board of Directors, Rosmalen discussed the value of FCIB membership. "FCIB is a professional organization where you can share information and experience, and network with other top international credit professionals. My affiliation with FCIB has greatly enhanced my professional growth. For this reason I recommend FCIB membership to all of my clients. Many have joined to date, and I will continue to encourage my clients to become members."

Rosmalen noted with satisfaction that Advisory Council members are now able to invite prospective members to attend their first FCIB conference free of charge. "This introductory invitation allows potential members to have a positive first experience with FCIB with no strings attached," Rosmalen explained. "After reviewing the experience of first-time attendees in Europe over the past several years, the Board decided to focus more on welcoming new visitors and partnering them with an FCIB member from the same country to put them more at ease. After this first meeting, we hope they will return to their company and convince them that becoming an FCIB member is essential to their job as an international credit manager."

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"A major topic of discussion today is what the role of credit managers will become in the next 5 to 10 years. Will they still exist? Yes, they will. And to stay on the cutting edge professionally, they will need to have access to the latest products and the most current training tools and techniques. FCIB is growing and expanding its services to meet these needs. This is why membership in a global organization like FCIB is so valuable. A primary reason that I participate and contribute to this organization is that it provides an excellent arena for sharing professional information and experience."

"Today more and more companies in the service industry (banks and credit-insurers, for example) are attending FCIB conferences. They have many customers who could become members of FCIB, I think those of us in the banking business should direct the attention of our customers to FCIB and the many benefits it has to offer. I joined the Membership Committee as a means to encourage my fellow bankers to help expand FCIB membership in Europe."

Rosmalen firmly believes that FCIB's greatest asset is its members. "We have so many highly qualified members who are willing to share their experience and knowledge--not only with their peers, but with those who are just starting out in the business of international credit. With this kind of professional network, you are able to learn and grow as an international credit manager." He strongly encourages fellow FCIB members to "stand up and share" information at the conference meetings. "We have a lot of members who regularly attend; but it is always the same few people who answer all the questions. Please, don't hesitate to stand up and take the microphone. It is important that we hear from everyone."

A frequent lecturer on trade finance at a local university in the Netherlands, as well as at various Chambers of Commerce, Rosmalen has written a number of articles on Letters of Credit for various professional publications including the local credit managers' organization--VVCM--of which he is a member.

Sherry Schlossnagle is a freelane writer based in Laurel, MD.
COPYRIGHT 2001 National Association of Credit Management
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Author:Schlossnagle, Sherry
Publication:Business Credit
Geographic Code:4EUNE
Date:May 1, 2001
Words:1428
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