Down with the Dutch
Forget the Americans. Forget the Japanese. The Dutch are emerging as the world's strongest financial heavyweight contenders. ABN Amro Holdings N.V. is already the largest foreign bank in the United States and Japan with 1,000 branches in the Netherlands and 700 offices on six continents (the lone expception being Antarctica where banking is not considered a vital industry).
ABN Amro is actively shopping around for European deals, hoping to gain a strong Continental presence in expectations of plans for a single currency to be in place by the close of the century. However, ABN Amro recently suffered two major setbacks having failed in its bids to buy banks in Beligium and France. On the upside, the company is expected to play a leading role in resurrecting the economy in Indonesia, a former Dutch colony that has maintained a close relationship with the Netherlands.
Out with the old
In November 1999 ABN Amro announced that its head of domestic operations, Rijkman Groenink, would take over as CEO in May 2000. The appointment was something of a surprise to insiders who thought that a more senior executive would replace the current CEO, Jan Kalff. Some analysts speculated that the hiring of the younger, bolder Groenink could presage a more aggressive strategy in ABN's future.
ABN Amro is a huge finanical institution where hiring is done through college recruitment, headhunters and referrals. If you are thinking about working oversees, there is a pyschological/logical test you must take before the interview. Interviews are done in two waves that usually involve 5 to 6 people, "the first being with two or three people," says an employee, "then of that goes well, the candidate is asked back for the 'big pass', the rest of the team and managers."
"The interview process is fairly rigorous but fair," reports one employee. "The goal... is not to stress out the interviewees but rather to assess his/her technical ability and to exchange information." "Bring a pad of paper in a briefcase along with a pen or pencil," advises a current employee. "Take notes... Prepare two to five questions and create more as the conversation evolves."
But be on your toes. Interviews can vary depending on the position. "I am known as the rough interviewer," says an employee. "I find this weeds out the people that can handle a fast-changing, complex, pressure-packed enviroment from those who cannot."
Breaking the bank
Since ABN Amro is agressively expanding, employees say a number of job opporunities have now opened up. "The bank has grown, like so many others, by buying other banks," says one employee. "In growing groups fast advancement is possible and limited only by how hard you work and how well you can fit into areas of need."
Rush to get big
Yet in its rush to get big, ABN Amro has experienced some growing pains. "The company seems to have a hard time digesting its acquisitions with rivalry between overlapping units," reports an insider. And in some cases, big does not always mean better. "The only thing that is no so nice is that it sometimes a bit bureaucratic," says an employee. "There are rules and regulations for everything," complains another.
Some employees say work hours are normal and flexible but others beg to differ. "The biggest problem in my opinion is for parents," says one employee. "In our Paris office, hours are crazy (7:15 a.m. to 8:00 p.m.) I would say for analysts, week-ends if need be, and so on. None of the females analysts have children."
The need to shine
Opinion also differs on diversity and minorities. While one employee says treatment of women and minorities is "exceptional," another claims that minorities have to work harder to prove themselves to management.. "Like most banks, being an old business, we have some old style managers who will not notice minorities unless they FAR outshine the competition," says the employee.
Commerical banking;Corporate finance;Asset management;Equity and bond sales;Foreign-exchange dealing
More Company Profiles
For more career information, go to Vault.com
©2000, Vault.com Inc