Why I have Decided to Leave ABN AMRO

I am a customer of ABN AMRO for more than 40 years. Last Friday I received a letter from ABN AMRO. They told me that the local branch office of ABN AMRO will be closed and integrated into a local branch office of Fortis.

 One day later negotiations started to save Fortis from bankruptcy. Today I read that ABN AMRO has to be sold to another bank. This will not solve the problem at all. It will speed up the Process of Desintegration of the Banking Industry that has started ten years ago.

 Just one year ago I wrote three blogs about the Merger of Fortis and ABN AMRO. Based on my own experience with the Merger of ABN and AMRO I predicted a possible failure of this merger. I predicted a possible failure because I did not believe the Technical Infrastructure and the Culture of both banks could be easily matched. I was Right. The Credit Crunch was the Cause of the Downfall but the Culture and the IT-Systems were the real reason. The Aim of Management was to make Big Deals (to get Big Bonusses) and the Systems were unable to provide the Right Data.

I have been working in the Money Market for a long time. In my opinion the biggest problem in the Banking Industry is the relationship between the Accountable, Bookkeeping, Systems and the Activities of Dealers. A small part of the Dealers are and were taking Enormous Risks by creating very complicated financial constructions (Derivatives). The Auditors (and the Management) of Banks have lost Oversight a very long time ago. This problem increases in severity when banks are merged.

Every time when a New Technology is implemented the Quality of the ICT-systems deteriorates. This has happened so many times that nobody really understands what the IT-Systems are really doing. Every time when a merger is accomplished the financial data of a bank (or other company) deteriorate. Two of more deteriorated systems are connected creating a bigger mess. Every time when a merger is accomplished the people who have an understanding of the ICT-systems know less about the Systems.

When a Merger takes place the motivated and skillful employees leave the “sinking ship”. The people that remain become “apathic”. They perform their duty in a “nine to five”-mode. Innovation stops. External advisory companies (or worse) outside outsourcing companies take over the maintenance and the development of the software. The quality of the software deteriorates again. The problem increases when packages or software layers are implemented. This happened in every bank around the world.

When I worked with ABN AMRO the biggest mess in IT was always created in the US. The main reason was the “opportunistic” attitude of the Management or the entrepeneurs attitude of the Management. They experimented with everything they could find but never finished anything. The US Financial System was far behind the Dutch Financial System in terms of Products and Supervision. Everybody believed the US was the most innovative in everything but they were certainly not the most advanced in Banking and IT.

 ABN AMRO was one of the bad performers in the Consumer Banking Industry in the Netherlands. The personnel of the Bank were not motivated for a long time. The main reason was the Management. Everything was decided at the top in big Staff Departments. The Branches were forced to implement what they had designed.

 The Management of the Bank loved to do Big Deals with Big Companies. ABN and AMRO were Deal-Making companies and were forced to move into the Consumer Market when the employees of all the companies in the Netherlands were forced to open bank-accounts. The Customer was never priority number one.

The decision structure of the Bank was highly complex and changed all the time. Employees at the branches were not allowed to take initiative. When they had taken initiative it took a long time before the decision was made. Most of the time the answer was negative.

The forced merger with Fortis decreased the motivation of the employees. It increased the complexity of the IT-Systems and the decision structure.

Fortis needed money and many parts were sold to other banks. Every time the Organization and the ICT-systems of the bank had to be divided in many parts. Before this process was even settled a new split was announced. This process was repeated until today.

The Consumer Banking Division of ABN AMRO, the “beautiful pearl” Fortis was after, was carefully protected. The integration of this part with Fortis proceeded. Many people moved to Brussels to create and implement a plan. Many outside advisors earned a lot of money again. Nobody had any oversight. A few weeks ago somebody finally decided to merge the branch-offices. They created new organization structures, appointed new managers, talked with the employees and send an announcement to their customers. This announcement was received last Friday! Two days later all the projects have been stopped and the employees of Fortis are leaving ABN AMRO. Nobody knows what to do!

The financial people were constantly trying to understand what the Risks were. Everytime a new problem arose and the Board had to take action. The message to the outside world changed all the time and the investors lost their faith in Fortis. The End of the (Credit) Line was reached last Friday!

A few days ago somebody decided ABN AMRO had to be sold to another bank to create enough cash to pay the current debts. The process of integration has to be reversed and a new process of integration has to be started with another Bank.You don’t have to be an expert to understand what will happen. The end of this process will be Total Chaos.

I am not afraid I will lose my Savings. The Government will take care.

I am not afraid to lose my shares. I have sold them a long time ago.

I am not afraid the bookkeeping systems of the Bank will finally break down and ABN AMRO will deny I am a Customer or present completely different data about my savings-account.

I am sure many things will go wrong. During my time as a customer of ABN AMRO the amount of mistakes that were made increased. Most of the mistakes were small but some of them really cost me a lot of time and money.

I am afraid  nobody will be able to help me when things go wrong. I just want a little bit of Service. Nothing More. I have decided to leave ABN AMRO. I am moving to RABO-bank.

I hope they will not buy ABN AMRO or merge with another bank. If this happens I have to find another Bank but I really don’t know where to go. At that time I probably have to buy Gold or another Object that keeps its value a long time ago. I really don’t know what will be valuable in the future.

Perhaps I have to start a farm and grow my own food at a place that will not be affected by the rising of the sea-level or big tornado’s or big earthquakes or heavy rain or intense drought or intense cold when the Ice-Age starts.

LINKS

 About the Merger of Fortis and ABN AMRO (Culture)

About the Merger of Fortis and ABN AMRO (Software)

About the Merger of Fortis and ABN AMRO (The Bank of the Heart)

About the Crisis in IT (About Software Layers)

About the Crisis in IT (About Outsourcing)

 About the Crisis in IT (About ERP Packages)

About the Crisis in the Banking Industry (Avalanches)

About the Crisis in the Banking Industry (Fraud)

 

 

 

 

 

 

About Subsidies

Around 1993 I became responsible for Subsidy Management at ABN AMRO. The whole thing started when the bank contracted a specialized company called PNO. I was asked to coordinate their activities in the Bank.
  • First you have to write a proposal (estimate time (including advisor).
  • When you get a subsidy you have to spend time reporting (estimate time).
  • The sum of both multiplied by the price per hour result in the costs.
  • Multiply the sum of subsidy by the chance you get the subsidy. A simple way to do that is to estimate the amount of contenders. This gives you a simple statistical expectation.
  • If the Estimated sum is lower than the costs don’t spend your time and try to get money in a different way. In general when you are a small company stay out of subsidies.

If you really want to become rich start a company like PNO (Pecunia Non Olet, Money Does Not Stink).

When I met them I soon found out that I was there when the company was created. They started their activities at the same place (Hengelo) and the same building as the company of a friend of mine. This company (Utopics) developed the expert-system they use to track subsidy opportunities.

Until 1993 I did not realize that it was possible to acquire a huge amount of money when you play the game the right way.

The Subsidy Game is played the right way when you combine two things. You have to align your strategy and related projects with the vision of government and you have to create the right level of contacts.

When the local or international government defines a policy they look for instruments to support this policy. One of the instruments they use is subsidies. They pay you to do what they want you to do.

When you want to get a lot of money you have to align your policy with the policy of the government.

It is very important to understand that aligning your policy is a virtual act. You have to show that the policy is written down on paper. If you are clever you don’t have to adjust your plans. In reality you play the same game government is playing. They also act very differently at the inside.

They play the Game of Politics. The game of politics is a combination between the Unity (Plan, Model) and the Social (Emotions, Network) World-View. The game is about persuading people to accept a model or plan or asking an opinion about a plan.

The simple trick is to relate all the projects you are doing to the policies of the Government and translate the project-plan into a proposal for subsidy.

The next step is much more important. You have to influence the network of decision makers. I hope you are not a naive person who believes in an objective government.

Everybody in government can be influenced to do what you want. The only thing that counts is the price you have to pay. Please understand that bribing is possible but this is a very stupid way to get influence because it only influences one person.

To get an optimal result you have become an “important person” in the network of decision makers itself.

To do this you have practice the art of Public Relations (PR). When you are practicing PR you have to know WHO is WHO, visit meetings and parties and give something to receive something.

When the Subsidy-project grew I became involved in PR at a large scale. PR is really fun. You talk a lot, travel a lot, you eat (and drink) a lot and sometimes you make a beautiful deal.

Soon I found out that the power of the Dutch Government was gone. The power was moved to Brussels. I made a proposal the create a special lobby-office in Brussels and to my surprise top-management agreed.

This started a new level of sophisticated manipulation. Getting things done in Brussels is much more difficult that getting things done in the Hague.

Brussels can be compared with Washington and the European Union acts the same as the USA. Many things are decided behind close doors and the most important influencers are the rich companies.

To get some instant experience I visited a few lobby offices and talked with the managers to find out how they were doing “it”.

My most spectacular experience was with IBM. IBM seemed to me the perfect lobby machine. The manager of the Lobby Office was the Minister of Foreign Affairs of IBM and he also had the power to act.

Influencing EG Policy was a very important issue at IBM. You have to understand that the EG is deciding about many standards and the standards have to be built in the products of IBM.

When I got acquainted with the practices of Brussels I discovered many “bribing patterns”. Later they were also detected and many scandals appeared. Yes, High Level Officials of the EG asked for money and they were also payed.

When you are not a high level player in the Subsidy Business I advice you to make use of an advisor. Even if you use an advisor the changes are low. Because of the low changes you are able to make a simple calculation to find out if subsidies are something you have pursue.

About the End of the EG, the End of the Dutch Political Parties and the Death of Pim Fortuyn

It all started in 1996. In this year I was asked to become a member of the HP Corporate Advisory Board, the ESPRIT Advisory Board and the W3C-Advisory Board. Suddenly I started to talk with very high level executives about the Future.

ESPRIT is a huge program of the European Union. It invests money in Research all over Europe. Every four years the priorities are formulated and I was asked by the Dutch Government to be the Dutch representative.

The panel was constructed by combining Country and Branch. I was the Netherlands and Banking. Another member came from the UK and was an expert in the Future of Medicine. We were asked to give a presentation about our expertise. Later all the presentations would be merged in next sessions.

It was a big surprise to the managers of ESPRIT that we were telling more or less the same story. Finding a shared view always took many discussions but we finished in one day.

I asked my manager if I could visit my colleagues of the panel to dig deeper in what they were telling. At that time I was responsible for Corporate Search. I had to define the Future Strategy of the Bank. After some explaining he agreed and I traveled Europe.

What we found out was that behind the scene a new shared foundation was visible. Every Industry was moving to a Center and out of the Center completely new Industries would emerge.

In 1996 I wrote the first English document I ever produced. It was about the Future of Banking. A few citations:

“By definition, the bank has always been a facilitator of trading processes”. It means that the bank must try to penetrate more deeply into the sales and production processes of the suppliers”, “the role of the intermediary will have to be investigated, and the positioning of the bank at the user-interface of the client (in the first instance, private client) defined. What is more, it is recommended that we do not sell only our own products. In the private client market, the struggle will revolve around the user-interface and ‘convenience’. Customers must be captured, seduced and retained. The ‘convenience’ is created when the ‘network organization’ (bank + retailer + producer, if there is one) finds ways of relieving the customer of certain troublesome matters“.

The document was discussed on many levels in the Company. To my big surprise the majority of the senior managers found the document interesting but in essence they did not believe “this” would ever happen. Banking would stay the same “for Ever”. It was a nice Vision but it was not based on Reality. I produced many other Presentations and Documents to show what was happening. I even build a Demonstrator together with Scientists of the Erasmus University (Eurides, Ron Lee & Yao Tan). It used Deontic Logic. The Demonstrator was financed by the EG ESPRIT Fund.

A year later I left the bank. My first job was to create a lobby office of ABN AMRO in Brussels. My ESPRIT-contacts proved to be of great help.

The new emerging foundation came back in many activities between 1997 and today. In March 2006 I finally saw the Light. To share my insight I wrote a document called “The Moving Boundary” (Dutch, De bewegende grens). Suddenly I saw that we were not only moving to a new foundation but that the foundation, the Center, was “On The Move itself”. I used a new Prediction of the Dutch Cultural Planning Bureau (SCP) to prove my point.

The SCP showed that five (!) factors were the main drivers. They called the drivers Individualization, Intensivation, Globalization, Automation and Informal-isation. I mapped the five factors on the Model of Will McWhinney and hoped one of the five factors would disappear. At that time I believed in four World Views.

Suddenly I saw that the factor Informal-sation was related to a Center. This center is pushed by four forces Equality, Diversity, Uniqueness and Cooperation. They are trying to find Balance. Until that time the Centre is moving in many directions. Every time we think we have found something to “Hold On” it moves.

I found out that we are moving from the time of the OR to the time of the AND. Before the Center started to move we had a Choice.

We could be in favor of Equality (Conservative, Christian Democrats), Uniqueness (Liberal) or Cooperation/Solidarity (Socialist) but the old boundaries are disappearing.

The Old Parties are holding hands in the Political Democratic Centre of The Hague but also Centralized Democracy is not a concept that is there to stay.

The AND-process in politics showed itself for the first time in 2002. A completely new party led by Pim Fortuyn took over Dutch Politics like an Earthquake. Unfortunately Pim Fortuin was killed just before the Elections. Many people believe it was a Political Crime.

The Netherlands are still in a very incomprehensible process of political restructuring. New parties grow and die. Old parties are splitting and restructuring.

The central structure of the EG is falling. Many “old time” politicians are playing strange games to show that people of Europe like what is happening in Brussels. They all know they are unable to hold the European Center.

The same is happening with NATO and the UN.

The Center is Moving!

Much later I discovered the Final Secret.

The Center is now moving at random but is trying to Jump to a new Level.

The Jump can be a Fall or a Rise.

 

 

Be Honest to Yourselve and Others

This afternoon an old friend of mine told me a funny story. He told me that he was treated by a doctor. As a child he could do all kind of tricks like getting out of his body and getting into others and explore them from the inside. He was lying on the coach and suddenly for fun he moved into the doctor and explored him. He found many interesting things about him and his patients. Suddenly he realized he was exploring a very private environment and moved out.

He did not tell me what he found out but let’s suppose he did and later by accident I found out that the doctor was a friend of a friend and for fun I told my friend what I knew and later he told his friend for fun what he heard. What am I trying to show here is that by accident and for fun we get to know a lot about others.

People (Yes Females and Males) are always gossiping so beware of the fact that if you have a secret in the end people will find out.

It is not necessary to use a paranormal ability. People talk, mail, chat, sms, write letters and everything you want to keep secret arrives at a certain moment at the wrong person by accident (Murphy’s law).

Modern technology is making it worse.

You are talking with a friend in the train using your mobile phone and you get into a very private conversation about a deal and you forget you are in the train. Just a few meters behind you somebody is listening and by accident he is of the competition. Bingo. He knows everything and two days later your world falls apart. They have taken it all. When I was driving to Brussels (I was doing lobbying for a big bank) I heard all the private conversations of politicians and their friends about what they were trying to accomplish.

You send a private email to a friend and he sends it to somebody else. Almost nobody uses the so called Internet Ettiquette. You put a very extensive text in your Email (“This message contains confidential information and is intended only for the individual named.”) to prevent this and the person who is sending it to somebody else does not know that he is liable for the consequence.

Or you are using Google Desktop and you don’t know that it is recording all your private chats with your lover and at a certain moment your wife wants to search something and she finds them.

Or worse imagine Google is storing your private chats on their computers and years later You Are Running For President and they phone you. You don’t need Google. All the data of the Internet is stored in the Internet Archive.

Or worse imagine A person called Hitler is taking over power and takes over the archives and you are arrested because you are a threat to them,

Or worse imagine somebody makes a mistake and you are selected as a possible terrorist and you behavior fits the profile and you are arrested and taken to Cuba and they use advanced techniques to find out what you were doing and to stop the pain you confess.

I think you got the message.

Now I want to get back to the beginning.

On April 28 2001 Commander L. R. Bremseth of the United States Navy wrote a private recommendation to the government. It’s called Unconventional Human Intelligence Support: Transcendent and Asymmetric Warfare Implications of Remote Viewing. The document can be found on the Internet.

A citation: “Concerned that a psychical (PSI) gap existed between U.S. and Soviet paranormal research efforts, the CIA sponsored discreet research into paranormal phenomena commencing in 1972. …..Over the succeeding twenty-three years, the U.S. military and intelligence services were actively involved in paranormal research and operations involving a process known as remote viewing. Remote viewing, which produced specialized human intelligence support, served as part of overall military and government organizations’ intelligence collection efforts“.

Remote viewing is what my friend did for fun (getting information by entering a person).

Commander L. R. Bremseth’s advice:

Establish a new, broad-based paranormal research program within a highly selective, military or intra-agency organization, employing the strictest screening procedures used by SRI, CIA, DIA and INSCOM in selecting/identifying remote viewing candidates and support personnel.

Model the new program from the best features of the remote viewing program, but do not limit research to remote viewing alone.

Explore a myriad of phenomena having potential military applications with the goal of developing transcendent and asymmetrical warfare approaches.

We are now 5 years later and research has advanced. I can imagine there must be transcendent wapensystems operational because research-companies like SRI need the money and researchers want to explore deeper and deeper into the human mind and even the human Soul..

Later they wake up (like Oppenheimer) and realize what they have given to the world. I can imagine that also!

Do you want to know more about this subject? Have a look at this website

LINKS

The Document of Bremseth