Robert van Kerkhoff (BNP Paribas Securities Services Luxembourg): one year later
Robert van Kerkhoff arrived in Luxembourg in March 2019 as Managing Director of BNP Paribas Securities Services for Luxembourg, Ireland and the Channel Islands. We met with him and his team 12 months later.
What has changed in the last 12 months?
Staff engagement throughout the company. When establishing our 2024 vision, it was extremely important for us to involve as many of our employees as possible. Our aim was to transform the organisation and to do that, you have to give everyone the opportunity to make themselves heard. This was done by means of co-creation sessions, individual consultations and opportunities to give feedback on various issues. We think it’s fair to say that this has had a dual effect: not only has it provided us with a mine of information from which to work, it has also fostered engagement at the same time. Shared ownership and accountability have been key success factors. An incredible amount of energy and enthusiasm has been unleashed.
“Empowered staff are more willing to go further to satisfy their business partners and clients.”
What difficulties did you encounter as you identified and implemented these changes?
BNP Paribas Securities Services’ ambition is to be the leading positive-impact asset servicing provider. Our goal is to embed sustainability in all our daily operational activities. This will have multiple beneficial effects for our clients and, most importantly of all, it will strengthen our positive impact on society and the environment. Today, our industry is facing a significant challenge when it comes to data, rather than traditional asset servicing – this is an area where we can make a real difference for our clients. We have worked over the past year to simplify and to digitise our processes, ensuring data consistency throughout the chain and across multiple platforms and optimising data protection. This data optimisation and enrichment will continue to be our focus over the coming years. The next major challenge lay in finding the right balance between business-as-usual, with all its daily pressures, and the focus needed to engage in projects and transformation initiatives. Furthermore, we had to provide "quick wins" as early as 2019 while motivating and energising our teams for longer-term projects. Our Communications team played a crucial role in this regard, working alongside the Executive Committee and helping to maintain momentum. It was also important to demonstrate our successes as and when they happened so that the staff could see that our projects were delivering tangible results, thereby creating trust in the model. It takes time to change things. Co-creation is time-consuming, not least because many people have rarely done it before. It really is a cultural change: employees are invited to be part of the change and their contribution is paramount to success. Although many of us, as senior managers, have long been responsible for implementing change, it takes time to realise (as an employee) that you are empowered. Once that happens, the sky’s the limit!
What benefits have you observed?
Empowered staff are more willing to go further to satisfy their business partners and clients. Our shared vision has created an anchor for our perspective. All of our Transformation pillars have been implemented and are up and running. They include transformation topics, related both to business development and personal development (work-life balance, “hot topics” which feature on a daily basis), and the way in which we want to group and to develop our common values. The proactive nature of our young employees has enabled us to pioneer our Upskilling programme and our Digital Data and Agile Academy. In today’s climate of uncertainty and with such a large number of our staff working from home, the importance of corporate culture has come to the fore. Our teams are demonstrating extraordinary levels of engagement and team spirit: helping each other, being flexible and adaptable, all whilst managing to have some fun, in spite of everything. This is an invaluable asset for an organisation focused on success and growth.
In view of the COVID-19 crisis, are your vision and transformation journey still relevant?
More than ever! This crisis has highlighted some key strengths which will help us to better focus on our Transformation targets. Several truths have come to light: firstly, people and their health are our number 1 priorities. Secondly, we were ready for remote working. Thirdly, our technical capacities and expertise meet our clients’ expectations, even in a crisis. Fourthly, one of our core values is “helping each other” and our employees have embodied that value as much as is humanly possible during this crisis. Lastly, team engagement is at a high: 95% of employees have been working from home since the beginning of the crisis and morale is extremely good (>85%). Based on this, we will undoubtedly review the level of focus needed for our various priorities – digitisation and agility have proved so important over the past few weeks – but the Transformation plan remains clear, its relevance is undisputed and our motto (we deliver simplicity in a world of complexity) remains the cornerstone of everything we undertake.