View From The Top
Frenk van der Vliet, Member of The Managing board
Global Finance: What makes your bank one of the safest banks in the world?
Van der Vliet: We are publicly owned, and we operate only for the Dutch public sector. So we are very much a niche player, but at the same time we are only active in the lowest-possible credit risk in the Netherlands. We do not have an explicit guarantee from the government, but we only invest in government entities and government-guaranteed entities. Our assets are extremely safe: They are all rated triple-A. Besides that, we have a very strong liquidity and solvency position. We have a Tier 1 capital ratio which is probably the highest in the world at 69% (it has to be 6% or more), and all our assets are ECB-eligible loans—that is also quite unique.
GF: If you do not maximize your profits, how do you measure your success?
Van der Vliet: Our goal is to finance the Dutch public sector as cheaply as possible. In combination with BNG we have around 90% market share. That underlines the success of this model and proves that we can indeed provide the cheapest funding possible.
GF: What is the bank’s outlook for the coming months?
Van der Vliet: As one of the 120 significant banks in the eurozone, we will be under the supervision of the ECB as of November. This happens after a comprehensive assessment which included reviews of banks’ balance sheets, especially the asset quality, as well as stress tests. This has been quite a labor-intensive project so far this year, because it meant participating in stress testing and all the reporting, asset quality and the like. But it is also very positive for our investor base, because in the end, being under the supervision of the ECB is another sign of strength. With this change in supervision there will be a more international context and level playing field. That will be good for everybody.
GF: What risks are you facing in the short-medium term? What keeps you up at night?
Van der Vliet: The main thing is regulation, which is often one-size-fits-all—and that approach does not necessarily apply to an organization like NWB Bank. We will obviously comply with all regulations, even though these are in some cases not specially designed for such a specific institution as ours.