International dilemmas

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Compliance world map

Our Compliance & Conduct department aims to contribute to ethical and responsible banking at ABN AMRO. As Compliance Officer I advise management and employees about laws, rules and integrity, while making risks clear and manageable. All in the name of offering a responsible service to our clients.

What I like about the International Clients department is how international the issues are and the diversity of the products and services. Ralph van Deelen Ralph van Deelen Compliance Officer for International Clients

Saying No

I never know what my day will look like before it starts. I get into the fray wherever and whenever my International Clients colleagues need me, and I’m frequently a compulsory partner in a client acceptance process or the reassessment of an existing client. Sometimes we’re simply unable to serve a client as the risks are too great – at such times a Compliance Officer will have to put their foot down and say No to their commercial colleague, upon which we’ll look together for alternative options. This makes relationship management a key – and very interesting – part of my job.

International and diverse

What I like about the International Clients department is how international the issues are and the diversity of the products and services. The bank serves clients all over the world. One day I’ll be on the phone to colleagues in Brazil, the next will find me talking to our people in Greece or Hong Kong. Compliance has seen its playing field become increasingly complex over the past few years: legislation, policies and supervision have all been tightened up and social pressure has greatly increased. What’s more, supervision has changed: since the end of 2015 we’re supervised by Dutch regulators DNB and AFM, as well as by a European regulator – the European Central Bank (ECB). And let’s not forget the regulators in all the other countries where ABN AMRO operates. I see this as a good thing: it helps to raise standards in the financial industry and contributes to a stable economy.

Conscience of the organisation

Aside from the actual compliance issues, I’m constantly fascinated by the way macroeconomics impinges on our micro-business in compliance. Our talks with regulators cover the way we design our policies and how we handle risks and dilemmas. Take cotton production in Uzbekistan, for example, a politically and economically sensitive issue that involves harvests brought in through child labour and forced labour. The key question is how we handle this as a bank. Do we pull out altogether? Or do we impose conditions on collaboration and thus retain some influence? Many people have no real idea of these kinds of dilemmas when I tell them what I do. But that’s precisely what makes it interesting, we’re involved in lots of issues that aren’t immediately obvious to outsiders. It’s contributing to the conscience of the organisation that makes my job so exciting.


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