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Recap: executive lunch with Petra van Hoeken on "The art of banking"


How wonderful; another WIFS live executive lunch took place on 1 March. At the Volksbank, 12 WIFS members engaged in a conversation with Petra van Hoeken. Petra is a highly experienced executive in the financial sector, both nationally and internationally. She is currently a supervisor at Volksbank, Nordea, Oranje Fonds and NWB. The enthusiasm to participate was high, we could have planned several groups. Keep an eye on the WIFS calendar, we are planning more such inspiring meetings soon!

The conversation unfolded along Petra's impressive career, both at home and abroad. Banking is a profession and it is important that everyone in the organisation sees it that way. Can you explain what you do and why, for example, it is wise to grant a certain credit? Can you explain why you need to know your customer? Not the obligatory 'it has to be done by the regulator', but really explain why you support it being done? Do you have the courage to decide? Are you prepared to take unpopular measures and explain that verbally?

When asked about differences between the Netherlands and other countries, the most striking thing is that in the Netherlands we consult a lot and we do a lot of 'poldering'. We sometimes forget to make decisions. We produce an incredible amount of paper, which sometimes makes it difficult to see the forest through the trees. Ergo you forget the essentials because you have to tick so many boxes in proposals. That's why Petra doesn't "take it" when people say, well everyone has read everything, are there any questions.... but she prefers to hear from the "accountable m/f" why again is this a good customer or good credit, or good deal. This also helps you understand our profession better and feel more responsible, and your risk awareness becomes sharper. 

Abroad, you are confronted with other cultures and customs. That makes you reflect more on your own culture and behaviour, which enriches you. Moreover, abroad you are often more 'alone' and that requires you to rely more on your compass.

On decision-making: ensure informed decision-making and keep your stakeholders well connected. That is emphatically different from deciding all together.

About risk management: it is quite a thankless profession. Because when things go wrong, the question is "where were you, why didn't we foresee this?". And if you make a decision that seemingly goes against the interest of the business and turns out to be right in hindsight (e.g. because a company for which you turned down credit later goes bankrupt), it is often not seen.

For a banker, it makes sense to have worked in multiple silos so that you understand the chain well. And getting better together is explaining your craft over and over again.