Interview with Frans Woelders about update on inquiry into improving mortgage advice

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Today the bank announced that during the investigation into improving mortgage advice it was established that 90 employees had copied clients’ signatures. The investigation is still proceeding. Frans Woelsders, Managing Director of Retail Banking, explains.

I deeply regret that this was allowed to happen and that we may have harmed our clients’ trust. We will do everything we can to restore their trust. Frans Woelders Frans Woelders General Manager Retail

Frans, why is this update being issued?

‘In November we announced that it had been established that nine employees had copied signatures (in Dutch only). In response, we started a thorough investigation, which is still proceeding. But I would like to inform staff about the situation as it now stands.’

What will happen to the employees who copied signatures?

‘As I stated in Het Financieele Dagblad of 8 November, the measures can vary from a reprimand to dismissal. We will assess this on a case-by-case basis. A few dozen employees are yet to be questioned. Care and thoroughness are more important to us than speed, which is also why the process will take some time to complete. We will inform employees individually about this matter in the coming period. Most employees involved can expect to hear from us in the next few weeks.’

How could this have happened? 

‘I understand that it can be difficult for an advisor to go back to the client if the advice has changed and it has no impact on the client. Clients themselves have often asked what the point is of signing the documents again. And perhaps we have taken the process too far in terms of getting back to the client. But whatever the reasons were for doing this, they were all wrong. I would also like to emphasise that more than 800 mortgage advisors did not make this choice.’

The issue will be discussed with the disciplinary court for banks (Stichting Tuchtrecht Banken). Why? 

‘All employees have taken the Bankers’ Oath, and the disciplinary court checks whether people in the financial sector who have taken the oath have complied with the Code of Conduct that is part of the oath.’

What will the bank do for clients whose signatures have been copied? 

‘At this point there is no reason to believe that these clients have suffered financial damage. Should it turn out that they have been adversely affected, we will, of course, remedy the situation.’

What is the impact on the day-to-day business at the Mortgage Advice department? 

‘It is extremely busy there, especially because of the recent interest rate hike – I am acutely aware of this. The solidarity among staff is strong, and they are getting things done together. I have only praise and appreciation for all employees who are now rolling up their sleeves and serving clients.’

What do you think of this matter? 

‘I deeply regret that this was allowed to happen and that we may have harmed our clients’ trust. We will do everything we can to restore their trust.’

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