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The Value in Digitalisation


News - 20 December 2018

We live in an age where people now, more than ever, are reliant on digital platforms to manage business processes and finances. But what does this mean for the industry? We speak to Richard de Keijzer, Managing Director of ABN AMRO Asset Based Finance (ABF) to find out…

We started by asking: what’s really driving digital banking initiatives?
Digital banking developments are building on some long-running shifts in the market that are all about customer experience. Whether it’s tailoring products and services, or the speed of decision-making, we’re increasingly able to interact with our clients at every level of the market in order to be where they need us to be.

Can you give us an example of that in practice?
Take New10, a service from our Dutch colleagues that provides SMEs with loans between €20k and €1m. Everything is done online – the entrepreneur is in full control, shares data about their business, gets a credit decision and quote within 15 minutes and their money within two days.

So it’s taking a form of interaction customers like – working online – exploiting the fact that business information and ID is digital-first, applying smart algorithms to the data and getting decisions and transactions executed faster.

We are looking to apply some of the best practice learnings from our colleagues in the Netherlands to improve our digital offering across ABF. We’ve already invested significantly in digital innovation across our business to improve processes and systems – this has provided a springboard for improvement as we continue to work on our systems behind the scenes.

Giving innovation a boost, enhancing decisiveness and improving execution for the benefit of the customer were also some of the key principles behind the merge of our Lease and Commercial Finance business units to create ABF at the start of the year. Our strategy is to respond to the needs of our customers and their growing preference for online/digital services.

What does that look like to the customer?
We’ve upgraded all of our clients to a new front-end portal, allowing them to get real-time data and straight-through processing of credit limit requests.

We’ve also invested in our risk identification tool, which gives our asset managers automated triggers to events which highlight both potential risk and opportunities for proactive growth opportunities. This means we’re more targeted: rather than treating all clients the same, this tool means we target resources to where they’re needed, taking a Risk Based Approach. And that’s just a couple of the benefits.

In the UK, we’re currently in the process of upgrading our Core Platform and related financial support services. This Upgrade will enable us to further automate our processes, meaning we can continue to make clients’ payment processing and availability updates faster and more efficient moving forwards, with smarter reporting and better value for money.

By digitising our platforms, we create an efficient way to deliver digital, scalable products and services that meets clients’ needs and expectations.

Disrupting business banking before fintech can get to it, then?
As an Asset Based Lending (ABL) industry, we have been slow to make our mark, creating room for fintech disruptors and challengers – but in this lies opportunity. Fintechs and neobanks have been incredibly positive for the whole banking sector. We need to redefine our core operations to support changes in technological advances and meet customer expectations. Having fast-moving competition has really forced the ABL industry to up their game. It’s all about applying a new fintech philosophy driven by an agile working environment.

Is there a risk that we digitise the relationship out of ABL?
On the contrary, it’s about refining and reinventing the customer experience to provide a more complete, more tailored service, delivered through digitised channels. Digitisation holds huge promise for both asset based lenders and our clients.

As a business we pride ourselves on our relationship-driven approach, and focus on maximising client value. At the core of this, is our ability to respond to our clients’ needs and work in an agile way to enhance our digital offering and user experience.

Some funding structures may be too complex for even the best digital solution and we will continue to offer our creative expertise for these scenarios – it’ all about giving our clients the choice to best suit their needs as their sustainable partner for growth.

So there’s more investment to come?
It’s a process of continuous improvement. The only way that can work is marrying the evolving digital capabilities with customer needs. And we want to give our clients the opportunity to be actively involved every step of the way in order to build a future proof ABL offering that will make their experience with us simpler and faster.
Our new IT platform will help facilitate hassle-free, anywhere, anytime access to our products and services.

What’s next?
Over the next couple of years further digitisation of the internal and external processes will take place. We’re going to see more efficient and quicker processes; and some incredible uses of data, to improve products and services. We’re investing continuously to keep up the momentum of that improvement to customer experience and responsiveness.

This news item was originally published in the December 2018 edition of Business Moneyfacts.