#140: Harm Bots (transcript)

This is Leaders in Finance: a podcast where we find out more about the people behind their successful career. We speak with the leaders of today and tomorrow to discuss their motivations, their organizations and their personal lives. Why? Because the financial sector could use a little more honest conversation. Our guest this episode is President and CEO of a large banking group. “It’s a big group, we are present in over 50 countries in the world. Globally, the group would employ about 140,000 people.” Our guest has a lot of experience working with the Japanese. That’s a very hierarchical culture, right? “Not really. It may feel like that from the outside, but it’s more of a community approach than a single person.” And any tips for people starting their career? “Be brave. Sometimes taking a calculated risk is a good thing. So you need to pull yourself a little bit out of your comfort zone, not wait for things to come your way.” Our guest this episode is Harm Bots, President and CEO of MUFG Bank Europe. Your host is Jeroen Broekema.

 Jeroen: Welcome to a new episode of Leaders in Finance. This week, we have Harm Bots, President and CEO of MUFG Bank Europe and Head of EU. Welcome, Harm!

Harm: Thanks, great to be here.

 Jeroen: I’m very happy you are here, so thanks for coming. Before I will introduce you, I would like to thank the partners of the podcast, these are: Kayak, EY, Odgers Berndtson executive search and Roland Berger. I’m very glad to have them as our partners, a big thank you to them. Over to my guest. Harm joined the Japanese financial group MUFG 2 years ago. Previously, he worked for NatWest Group, RBS Global Banking & Markets and ABN AMRO. Harm started his career at ABN AMRO in Amsterdam and later in Tokyo. He held various leadership positions at RBS in Kuala Lumpur and later NatWest Group in London before returning to Amsterdam as chairman of the managing board and CEO of NatWest markets. In his recent role at NatWest, Harm is responsible for setting up NatWest Markets N.V. as the new European bank after Brexit. Harm is 51 years old, is married to Andrea, has four kids. Very interesting to me, two twins. He lives in Utrecht. So that gives us a bit of an introduction. First, Harm, I would like to dive into MUFG, because it’s an extremely large financial group. However, I think a lot of listeners are not aware of that. So, as listeners know, I like to structure that by running through the difficult stakeholders and finding out how large this organization is, but also finding out what this organization stands for, et cetera. So, first of all, maybe the customers of the bank or your colleagues, with which stakeholder should we start?

Harm: Let’s start with the customers. I’ll explain a little bit about the customers of the group and then, more specifically, the customers that we serve in Europe. MUFG is a very large institution, covering from all the way from retail to corporate and investment banking. Clearly, in our home markets in Japan and a couple of markets in APEC, we would service customers right from retail to corporate banking, looking then specifically at Europe as a region for the group. We’re focusing here on what we call wholesale banking. We break down our client groupings, our client segments. One very important to the group is the Japanese clients, we essentially follow their business globally. Sometimes people do forget Japan being the third-largest economy in the world, there is a lot of business interest in Europe, and we support that. We really follow these clients on a global basis and support them into Europe. The second client group or client segment that we cover is corporates and institutional clients. These are global clients, so the large cap European corporate names into the institutional clients and within institutional clients. This goes all the way from banks to pension funds, asset managers, insurers and so on. And we typically cover the top end of the market there. That is what the role is that we play. We position our global capabilities to these client groups. The third segment, which is more product, the bank is very big as a structured finance house globally. We’re probably one of the largest banks in product finance. We have an aviation finance, a commodity finance, desks, that specifically look at these specialised lending types of deals. That is what the bank is about in terms of its clients. So perhaps it’s not a surprise that in Europe you don’t hear or see that much of MUFG on the street because we’re not covering the retail clients. We wouldn’t have offices out throughout the Netherlands. We have one office in Amsterdam and that’s where we’re seated.

 Jeroen: As a side question, MUFG stands for Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group. I don’t know where UFJ comes from, and Mitsubishi, whether it has something to do with the carmaker as well? Or is it something very different?

Harm: No, these groups are built from conglomerates or families of big Japanese companies. So the Mitsubishi group is one. UFJ starts for United Financial Japan, which was a separate bank. And also one more familiar name to people, that is part through these merges of the group, is Bank of Tokyo. Bank of Tokyo became Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi, then it merged with UFJ, it became MUFG at the end. So it’s a consolidation essentially that took place in the last couple of decades in Japan that’s built this big global group now.

 Jeroen: So, actually, the Mitsubishi carmaker is the same name? Or is that something else?

Harm: It’s the same name, but it’s a separate company.

 Jeroen: Okay. Just one more question on the customers. In Europe, as an SME, you’re not serving SME’s, right? But how big should you be before being able to deal with your bank, your institution?

Harm: We typically cover the top fifty names in a given country. I think this is also playing to where we think we can deliver value to clients. Those clients that clearly need the global capabilities. So if you think about our group and many of our clients, they would typically have a relationship with a number of banks. They would not have a single bank. Some of these very large corporations, maybe fifteen to twenty banks that they would have on their panel. So we would in that space be one of those banks. I think our particular edge is to build the relationships locally, but specifically support these clients into the APEC market. Because if you step back, there’s probably not that many Asian global banks that can really serve as the eastward needs of these client groups. I think that’s where we’re extremely strongly positioned, also because the bank is not only very well represented in Japan, we have in Asia a very deep franchise. We actually, as a matter of fact, own a number of local banks in places like Indonesia, in Thailand. We own a bank in the Philippians. So we go quite deep into these markets, very well established. So, for example, Dutch or French or German companies would have dealings into APEC, we are well positioned to help and support there.

 Jeroen: Are there particular countries in Europe where you have a stronger presence than others, apart from the UK?

Harm: What is interesting is to look at: what is a typical location for the Japanese clients? They tend to be quite big in Germany. So around Düsseldorf is a lot of Japanese corporates. They have set up their European operations there, so that is an important market for us. Amsterdam, you learn that as you join MUFG, but Amstelveen is actually an area where you have a lot of Japanese expats and quite a number of big Japanese corporates have set up their European offices here in Amsterdam. Historically, London was a big location, obviously, and an investment destination. So that gives weight to the businesses there. Across all the other markets, it’s a little bit the size of the economy that drives the size of the business. So Germany is the largest EU-economy, big for us, France is big for us. And you go to the smaller countries or into central Eastern Europe, more focus, more targeted.

 Jeroen: Have you acquired new customers? How does that work? Does that work in close corporation with Japan? Because they’re Japanese businesses, and they start an office here, or do you also acquire new businesses in Germany and wherever else in Europe entirely from here? How does that work?

Harm: The Japanese business is really interesting, I think. Because that is truly a global business. Typically, this is very close coordination with what we call the primary office, which is the people in Japan that cover these relationships on a global basis. And then to really have the discussions with the client on, “Where are you investing, where are you building a business?” Through that, we identify needs. But we also do it bottom-up. We obviously are quite active in that space ourselves, we may spot certain business developments or needs from clients, being in a dialogue locally. And the role we play is connecting between those two and just making sure we are well-positioned across that whole relationship. For the global clients, it is really up to us to source and to understand what clients could be interested in the service we can provide. As I said, a lot of this is more the international and global capabilities of the bank. So we would typically go into discussions, “Hang on, this client is investing heavily in Asia” or they are in certain sectors where we have good presence, also given our project finance capabilities. Whether it is infrastructure or digital assets where we say, “Hang on, we can actually play a role.” So we are quite active out there having these discussions with clients but always realistic to say, “Can we be of relevance? Can we play a role for you?” And if there is a good match, then obviously we will work together. The other point to mention here is MUFG is really interested in long-term relationships, and I think this originates from the whole Japanese culture that you build relationships, you build trust. So more than other banks, I think a lot of banks are focused on relationships, but perhaps other a little bit more transactional. We do believe in the long-term picture. We want to build up these relationships, be there in the good times, but also support clients through more difficult times and be quite a consistent and steady and safe bank to deal with.

 Jeroen: Is that very special for a global bank? Without naming and shaming, but are there many global banks where you think that is less the case than with your bank?

Harm: Let me turn it around, if I look at my own experience, the way the bank is looking at financial performance, it’s maybe less of a culture where its role is quarter to quarter, what’s the long-term direction of the business here? What’s the financial value that we’re building? Obviously, that is important. But then, what is the other strategic value that we’re building for the future? The bank is actually quite serious about these topics as well. It doesn’t really work with our approach to being with a client, the next year we can be out of a relationship. So I think the consistency and building up, which also goes back to the values and the purpose, which is really around being the most trusted financial institution of the group. I think that says a lot about how the bank wants to be seen and be positioned.

 Jeroen: Sounds like you like the approach of a stakeholder model than just focusing on shareholders only. So let’s move on to the next stakeholder, your colleagues. With how many people are you worldwide approximately, and how many do you have in your European team, excluding the UK?

Harm: Globally, the group would employ about 140,000 people. So it’s a big group, we are present in over fifty countries in the world. In India as a region, because that’s how we look at the bank the next level down, we are present in London, in continental Europe, more selected locations in the Middle East and Africa. We have about 4000 people employed across the India region. And if I look at the EU-markets, that’s approximately a thousand people that would be employed, located in offices across Europe. Maybe also interesting to say, it’s a very international and diverse workforce. If I look at Europe alone, I think it’s 86 different nationalities. So we are a pretty international business.

 Jeroen: Are you the only Dutch person, or are there more?

Harm: Back to Amsterdam, Amsterdam employs about just over 400 people, so there is good Dutch talent well represented. But again, equally we have British nationalities, we have central European nationalities, German, there is a lot there.

 Jeroen: With 86 different nationalities, it’s a lot. Moving to another stakeholder, the supervision. How does that work? You are a global bank, you are operating in all these different countries. But for you specifically, what do you deal with?

Harm: Again, it’s maybe good to explain that the entity is MUFG bank Europe NV. That is an entity with a separate credit institution licence. With that licence, there’s a lot that needs to be put in place. So we are operating in a way almost as a stand-alone bank as an entity, and that is how the regulator tends to look at this and say, “You have a licence, and therefore there are a number of requirements you now need to fulfil.” So that relationship with the regulator is pretty intense.

 Jeroen: Is that DNB or is that ECB?

Harm: That’s DNB for us.

 Jeroen: Because you’re not ‘big’ in an NV-level to be supervised by Frankfurt?

Harm: Correct. Because there would be normally a 30 billion balance sheet threshold. We’re operating 14-15 billion right now. We may grow to that over time, we don’t know yet. So it’s the DNB, a pretty intensive relationship at that level. And then we also have, because we need to have our governance in place, we have a managing board. And then there is a supervisory board, which the chairman is Wietze Reehoorn, well-known from his roles at ABN AMRO, very experienced there. What we’re trying to achieve is to have very solid governance, the safeness and soundness of the entities is an important topic. But on the other hand, also to be seamless in terms of how we operate across the group. Because we do deliver a more integrated business model, when I meet with clients, they’re typically not that interested to hear one entity I represent, they want to do business with MUFG, they want MUFG to help them in Singapore or in the US or Europe. So we need to really bring that together for the clients. So it’s constantly managing that between the group and the entity and keeping both really healthy and in a good state.

 Jeroen: That means a lot of communicating for you as well as a lot of reporting, I guess?

Harm: Yes. Maybe we’ll get to that, earlier in my career I was on the other side, working with ABN in Tokyo. Then you realise how remote and how far away you are from the head office. I invest quite a lot of my time, a lot of my days start with calls with Tokyo and a lot of that is just bringing them up to speed, what is going on in Europe, how we look at the markets, what the risks are on the horizon, what the key regulatory developments are, how the client base is performing, and so on. So there is a lot of education that the group understands better in a local context. And I better understand the group context. It’s bringing these two together to find what the optimal balance is in the mix.

 Jeroen: As the CEO, do you feel more like on the one extreme being micromanaged or on the other extreme being fully another entrepreneur? Between those two extremes, where are you?

Harm: MUFG is empowering its teams, so there is quite a lot of freedom for us to operate locally to do what we feel we need to do in order to run a successful business. But we obviously should take note of what the strategic direction is of the group. If I would come up with proposals that are completely out of line with where the group wants to go, there at least would be questions. I think it’s reading into where the group is going, how we can support the group, not only financially but also strategically. And then what the sensible role for us is to play locally and doing that in a way that we keep the entity in the local operations safe and sound.

 Jeroen: And in terms of hierarchy, just curious, very practically speaking, how many layers are between you and the CEO of the group?

Harm: My reporting line is into what we call the regional executive for EMEA, that’s Sazaki who is my boss in London. He would report up to exco-level in Tokyo and from there on, it would go to the CEO.

 Jeroen: Three layers in between.

Harm: Yes.

 Jeroen: It makes sense with more than 140,000 people. Another stakeholder is competition. Because you are one of the largest financial groups in the world, but who do you view here in Europe as your competitors? You don’t necessarily need to name their names, but maybe there are very different competitors than I expected?

Harm: It’s a really interesting question. I think it depends a little bit on the activity you look at. We look at our Japanese inbounds model or business. We clearly see the other big Japanese banks in that space. These are all Japanese players, all with international presence. So that’s where we compete head on head with the other Japanese banks. I think if we look more at our global client segments, it’s the international banks that we see a lot. So some of the bigger American banks or the bigger European banks, a couple of Asian banks, but not that much. I think that’s really where we are competing there. And then perhaps more on the specialised activities that I described, project finance, strategic finance, some of the French banks are quite strong. There are a couple of Dutch banks that are very active in that space. So based on client, product, we would find different jobs.

 Jeroen: You also work together all the time with them in club deals. As you said, it’s like 15–20 banks, or it depends on the deal, or it’s the daily cashflow management or the currency stuff. So you meet them as competitors, you meet them as people or partners?

Harm: Absolutely. I think that makes this whole international banking system so interesting. You are absolutely right, on deals we may compete and on the same day, we may actually sit together. There may be a client of the bank, there may be a key counterparty in a deal that we jointly drive. There is also an industry level, quite a lot of corporation collaboration, just to mention one piece. MUFG has played quite an important role in the net-zero banking alliance, which is a group of 400 of the largest banks, thinking about public policy towards climate change and things like that. We very closely operate there together with all the other banks and are in constant discussion: how can we as a financial sector be an important enabler of these really quite profound developments, and how does it impact our clients? How does it impact regulation? So very much in partnership there, but sometimes on deals, it can be head-to-head.

 Jeroen: Maybe it’s a good moment to cover society as a whole as a stakeholder. The net-zero banking alliance, is that the alliance where recently also quite some big American companies left? Or is that another one?

Harm: Yes, that is the space where you see globally – and I think this is one of our readings also of the situation – different regions are in different stages of development. One of the strategic values that I think we also bring to the group, and the group very much values that, is that Europe, in a way, is a frontrunner of some of these developments. It is more advanced, not only on things like taxonomy, on disclosures and regulatory obligations, but also in terms of where clients are. Really thinking about, “How do we need to transform the business model?” One of the topics we have been very active on is to say, “We clearly have our net-zero targets as well as an institution.” First of all, our own operation, which is by 2030 and then building up 2050 to be net-zero, neutral on our total portfolio. We think the role that we then need to play as a bank is, “How do we help the transition of clients?” We are not, to a certain extent, interested in just greening the portfolio; it’s around, “How can we have a good dialogue with our clients?” To understand what steps they are taking and how we can enable acceleration of those developments. We see that quite seriously as the role that the bank needs to play, but if you look one level down, you will find out that in Japan, the challenges are quite different from Europe. Just to give you an example, Japan is an importer of energy because of the earthquakes the seabed is not equipped to have pipelines there. There is a lot of import of energy. So the technology needed to resolve these issues can be quite different. So we think we need to be in quite deep conversations with clients in certain sectors, in certain geographies to really understand the challenges ahead and how we can help these clients to move forward.

 Jeroen: I can imagine that for you, it’s a really good thing that you have this long-term view, if that’s the case in practice. But my question is: how do your shareholders allow you to do this? Maybe you can also cover the stakeholder ownership, because that maybe explains a little bit. But it’s interesting because you have shareholders that are also looking for profit here, I assume, at least.

Harm: Profitability is important, but the sustainability of the profitability is also very important to shareholders. So we want to work with clients that are clearly thinking ahead, thinking about the future. We don’t want to long-term work with clients that become completely outdated in terms of their own business model. Even from a risk standpoint, it’s very logical for us to have these discussions. What are the steps you’re taking to move yourself forward?

 Jeroen: Your shareholders are apparently allowing you. Who are they, by the way?

Harm: What you typically see, there is still a big Japanese shareholder base, but increasingly also an international shareholder base. I think the shareholders are also interested in working and to seeing the bank working on these topics and developments. As a matter of fact, you see more and more investors being vocal and active to say, “We for our own portfolio and investments want to understand better what the bank is doing in order to be net-zero.” So it becomes a real KPI for shareholders. So it’s not only the

actual profitabilities in a way that quality of the income regenerates and how that plays into these important society topics like climate change.

 Jeroen: That totally makes sense. But I’m just trying to figure out if there are blocks of big shareholders that apparently are less focused on those quarterly results, why that is the case that they allow you. Because there are many other banks in the world that would maybe say they’re very long-term, but they’re not in practice.

Harm: I think the investor world is really moving towards what I just described. I think more, and more investors also get the point that if we don’t innovate as a financial group, then our future success will be on the line. So we need to invest time, money, and effort into these topics. It’s also being a client-centric bank, I think. Because this matters to our clients, and if it matters to our clients, it has to matter to us as a bank. Otherwise, we can’t really service and help clients. These topics, if I go out and see clients, it’s consistently a topic that we talk about a lot. What are the plans here? What is the approach that you take? What help do you need from the bank to help and support you on that journey? Also, for the stakeholders of our clients, is it going fast enough? What are the risks in terms of new technology that you are trying to deal with? So I think these are really highly interesting conversations to be in, but important for all stakeholders in the system, to be honest.

 Jeroen: It is interesting how you say that Europe is ahead, so I assume that also in Japan they’re interested in how these things are done here. Like for example, the E gets a lot of attention here, where maybe I would argue the S gets much more attention in the US. So you have different areas in the world where you maybe are ahead of things. I’m also very curious about your role. Because apart from a very different organization that you now work for during the past two years, you’re in the CEO-position of an entity. Is that very different from your previous roles?

Harm: It is to a certain extent. Because again, the entity brings a lot of new perspectives on these topics as well. Because now we are as a licensed entity required to be able to report to a regulator certain things in terms of annual reports. There are closures that we need to think about. The regulator is also thinking about the risk aspect, “How do you actually identify these risks that are sitting in your portfolio?” Because there are too many clients that are exposed to client transition risk, how do you measure that, how do you quantify? So there is quite a lot of discussion at the entity level. What we also try to do as an entity is to remind the regulator that we understand the legal and regulatory obligations. But it has to be seen within the context of the wider group, because again, we shouldn’t forget that the impact in terms of client change at an MUFG-level with a balance sheet of over three trillion is going to be much more impactful than what I can do locally. So I see my role as obviously doing what we need to do for the entity, but really equipping and positioning the group on these big questions and to say, “This is what we’re learning, this is what we’re seeing in Europe”, it’s very likely that a lot of these developments will hit our markets where we’re big and whether that is Southeast Asia, whether that is the US, whether that is back into Japan, how do we build up the knowledge base, the expertise?

 Jeroen: And this part is very different for you from what you did before?

Harm: I think so, yes. It is different, because we see a lot and perhaps also the other dimension, Tokyo is far away from Europe. If I go back to my time at RBS NatWest where London is around the corner, so much closer to the market, Tokyo is far away to a certain extent. So actually briefing, educating, helping the group to understand.

 Jeroen: Is it far away geographically, or is it more culturally far away, or both?

Harm: Both, I think. And just physically, it’s not that easy. I just came back from Tokyo, it reminded me again that it’s 13–14 hours on an aeroplane. So that’s a long flight. When it makes sense, we try to do physical visits, but that can’t always be the case. We see and feel more of the market here and know what’s going on. We can probably also read deeper into, “Hang on, this is actually the intention, these are the objectives. This is what the European Commission is working on”, for example. Or “This is what the regulator really means when they talk about these new regulations and that’s how we approach it.” So I think it’s these insights that really help the group to understand better where things are getting to.

You’re listening to Leaders in Finance with Jeroen Broekema.

 Jeroen: Early on in your career, you were in Tokyo as well. How many years did you work, first in the Netherlands and then moved to Japan?

Harm: Approximately five years in Amsterdam.

 Jeroen: How come? What was the moment that you were sent, or you asked to be sent to Tokyo?

Harm: That’s an interesting question. I asked, I wanted to go international, and I always felt the drive. Perhaps it was one of the reasons, back then, for joining ABN AMRO. I was lucky to do this in the time of the end of the 90s. ABN was growing at that stage, when I joined, there were over 100,000 people in more than 75 countries. So that was really appealing to me, being part of a Dutch bank with a very international reach. It is a quite a different set-up right now, but then, it was very attractive to me. What I also benefited from, I think the bank was excellent taking in new graduates into the bank. They had a very structured and well-developed management trainee program. They would rotate you around from retail to the corporate banking divisions, give you all kinds of exposure, help you with the technical aspects of what a bank is, because it is a complex institution. And I think I’m still benefiting from that help. And then there were quite often also opportunities, if you did relatively well as a new employee to a company after a couple of years, to say, “Go and prove yourself in another place.”

 Jeroen: Why did you ask for Japan?

Harm: I didn’t actually ask for Japan specifically. Asia had always an attraction to me. It’s an interesting story, as we were done discussing going to Japan, I think the bank was going through some reorganisations and I think we had already packed the boxes when the bank came back and said, “We want to move you to Hong Kong.” And I said, “No, don’t do that, we are now focused on Japan.” They allowed me in the end to still go to Japan, so I think it was a bit more determined what they thought. But I think at that stage in my career, it was really a great experience to learn to operate on one hand in a branch or an office which is much smaller than the head-office. So you get much more exposure to all the different stripes of the business, whether that is risk or compliance. You just see more because you’re a compact organization. Back then, we were 200–250 people on the ground in Japan. And secondly, you learn a lot about operating in different cultures. It gives you fresh perspectives on the bank you work for. One is actually doing that far out with Japanese clients. It also makes you aware of your own culture, your own background. Again, it’s something I feel I’m still benefiting from.

 Jeroen: What was your age?

Harm: I must have been early 30s.

 Jeroen: Did you go together with Andrea?

Harm: Yes. I think people thought we were crazy when we were moving. Our second twin was born, they were three months old, and we jumped on a plane and flew off to Tokyo. It was a very exciting time, actually, for a young family to do that. After some time, you’ve got to take a little bit of risk. It worked out, because we thought Japan was an absolutely fantastic experience for all of us. For me now, later in my career, to then join MUFG and to reconnect, it’s almost like a full circle reconnect again with that part of my career. It’s been really great.

 Jeroen: I imagine it was great in your application process to talk about the fact that you lived in Tokyo, you knew the culture, you maybe knew a little bit of Japanese, I don’t know?

Harm: It’s interesting how these things go in the end. It is a small world, so this is not like you put your formal application in. I got in touch with people I knew from my days at RBS, and they said, “You’ve done some stuff at NatWest in Europe, we may need some of that skill-setting in our organization. We’re thinking maybe appointing a Japanese CEO for the business.”

 Jeroen: Because you’re the first, right?

Harm: I’m the first, yes.

 Jeroen: Was that exciting for you?

Harm: I think it was exciting, yes. Because you do feel this is an important change for the group. I think they are thinking quite deeply about, “In order for us to be successful, we probably need a local talent to run the business.” It’s not easy these days, Europe is a quite complex market to understand all this regulation, to understand and build the relationships with clients, with other stakeholders. And to then drive the business forward in terms of strategy and planning and so on. So I think it was a big moment for the bank to say, “Let’s continue on the journey of internationalising and trust a non-Japanese into the role.”

 Jeroen: A great responsibility! Let’s deep-dive a little bit into the moment you arrive in Japan. First of all, a very short question, are you arriving there for the first time in Japan, or have you been there before?

Harm: We had been there before. I think on the first trip, Andrea was high pregnant, and we were on a pre-assignment trip. Just to get a sense of what Tokyo looked like and how it would be to live there. So we had been there before.

 Jeroen: But you knew you were going, right?

Harm: We knew at that stage we would be going. Unless we would say, “We don’t want to go.” But we did want to go. And then you literally get into this process of packing up and preparing for leaving. And in between, the second twins were born. There were a lot of boxes being moved around and little children to look after. So we literally arrived with my parents-in-law, who joined us on the flight just to support us in Japan. I think the first experience with Japan is the incredible efficiency of that society. I remember being picked up from the airport, and we were driven to our new house, which was located near Shibuya. So people who know Japan know that that is a very busy part of town. But we lived in a quiet corner there, and there were probably a team of 15 movers waiting for us. They started like a machine unpacking everything. I think we arrived there at 11 in the morning, it was 5 in the afternoon, everything was unpacked, everything was in cupboards. Things were on the wall, everything was working. We were just sitting there, “We’ve just moved, let’s go for dinner.” But it tells you then the service orientation of that society, it’s incredible. This stuff has been planned meticulously.

 Jeroen: What were the biggest mistakes you and Andrea have made culturally in the first month or years?

Harm: That is a very good question. I think, in a way, it’s good to make some mistakes. One of my first stories in the office, I had an office on the floor, and I remember asking my PA, “Can you please remove this fax machine?” It was a rather large fax machine in the office, and I didn’t need a dedicated fax machine in my office. So I said, “Can you please remove it, so I have a bit more space?” She was very polite and said, “We’ll take care of it.” After a week or so, that machine was still there, and I was just wondering if maybe she had forgotten about it. So I asked again, “Can you please arrange for removing the fax machine because I don’t really need it?” A couple of days later, nothing happened. It made me think, “Maybe there is something else going on here.” So I asked a colleague who then asked her and what had transpired was that there was a policy from a long, long time ago, from Amsterdam that given the position, there needed to be a fax machine in the office for confidential fax messages. She actually was able from a binder to show me the letter. So then we arranged for somebody in Amsterdam to send a fax message to say that this machine was not needed any longer, and then it was safe, and it got removed in a few seconds. But it tells you something that once decisions are taken, the Japanese are very detailed in implementing these decisions. In order to change that, there has to be a bit of a process with consensus.

 Jeroen: You can interpret it in two ways, at least from my very simple cultural background. One interpretation is high integrity. “This is what we agreed on, so this is how we do it.” On the other hand, you can also say, “Let’s try to think ourselves whether we need it or not. Then we’ll have a look at what works with the rules.” So there is a negative and a positive interpretation here, I think?

Harm: There is, and you see that also in MUFG right now. For a bank that in the ends needs to manage risk, it’s very healthy that there’s a process of building a support base around important decisions. They don’t really want to take rapid, unpredictable steps. A lot of the Japanese culture is around harmony and just making sure people are consulted and understand why we take certain decisions. Sometimes the decision-making process takes longer, then the beauty is – if I compare it to the Netherlands where the decision is taken and in the next week people will argue about what the decision actually is – that won’t happen in the Japanese culture. Once the decision is taken, there is support, and it will be implemented. So the execution process on the back of it is a lot clearer.

 Jeroen: That’s very interesting. From a hierarchy perspective, is it much more hierarchical?

Harm: Not really, actually, in a way. Because it may feel like that from the outside, but again, this process of consensus building is actually one that typically breaks through the different ranks. Last week, I was in Tokyo, you’re meeting with senior people, but you are also meeting with the key people around these senior people because they are quite influential in setting direction as well. So it’s a more community approach than a single person. If I go back to my days at RBS and for some of the American banks, it would be more of a sole person making a decision. That’s maybe an extreme to describe it, but in an institution like MUFG, it is wider consensus building, that is an important part of the process.

 Jeroen: On a personal level, you arrived there with four young kids, it’s a different country. Is your wife Dutch or international?

Harm: She’s Dutch, and she was working with ING and – this also tells something else about this pre-financial crisis – worked for a while for ING from Japan. So it was a pretty busy family life and I still remember the point in time, I think it was on a Sunday, sitting there, and I said to my wife, “I finished reading a full article in the newspaper without being interrupted by the kids.”

 Jeroen: A unique experience!

Harm: Yes, exactly.

 Jeroen: How did you guys manage this on a personal level? Was there a lot of help? Were you both working, or did you work the whole time?

Harm: She was more part-time working. What we didn’t realise as we moved to Tokyo is that the opportunity to have more support at home to help, we had a maid to help and support the family, which was great. Because you’re lacking the normal support you would get in the Netherlands from your own family, your parents. That’s not available. So it was more down to, “How do you organise it locally?” But with that support in place, Tokyo is a very interesting city to live in, and it’s also a very safe city to live in. So we didn’t worry too much, we were actually just enjoying being there. We always felt being guests in a very welcoming place, which Japan is. And then to be on the journey, every day there would be a little adventure. I remember sitting down at dinner and I said, “What I just experienced today…”, because every day you learn certain things, you’re being thrown back to your own basics. Another great story, at that stage I was also covering Korea, so I was on flights regularly to Seoul. I was leaving from a small airport, and I was headed to the airport in Tokyo. I thought it was maybe easy to have a little bit of cash on me, so I was looking around for the ATM. I knew there were only two banks where I could operate the ATM, one was Citibank and the other was a Japanese bank. I was looking around, and I knew there was somewhere a Citi ATM there, but I couldn’t find it. And then somewhere in the corner, there was an ATM and I thought, “Let’s give it a try and see if I can manage it.” So I went there and put my card in the machine. It was all in Japanese, I was trying to second guess what the screen was saying. This tells again how helpful the Japanese are, because someone saw me struggling, and a lady came up to me and said, “Can I please be of help?” She helped me and said, “Enter your pin code”, funny enough, the machine was asking me, “What is your name?” I’ve never had to enter my name, but anyway, at that stage you are used to Japan being so different. Then it asked me for my home address and she helped me to key it in. I thought, “Maybe it was one of these smaller regional banks or something like that.” Then it asked for my date of birth, and then it returned my card and returned a receipt. I was waiting for the cash to come out, and then the lady said, “No, this is not a cash machine, you’ve just purchased one day of travel insurance.” Then you are so back to the basics again, trying to live in a society that is so different. But also equally so interesting.

 Jeroen: I hope your travel insurance covered Korea as well! That’s a great story. How old were your kids when they left Japan? Do they still have a vivid memory of it? Did they learn Japanese, or were they too young?

Harm: They were too young, I think.  My oldest daughter must have been nearly five, she has some vague memories. We recently went back on a holiday this summer, and we went back to Malaysia where we also lived. There, there were many more memories.

 Jeroen: Did you grow up in an international family? I’m trying to figure out here whether this international drive of you was something that you were raised with or not.

Harm: Not at all. I grew up in Gouda in a very warm family. I have one older brother. My father worked for the domestic Red Cross and was at the international office in The Hague. So there was not much there, internationally. But I always had a deep interest in the world around us, that has always been a part of me.

 Jeroen: Why is that the case?

Harm: I don’t know, I just grew up, even when I was young, reading the newspapers and turning to the international sections of the newspaper. I was always interested in what’s going on in this big wide world. And then there are probably a number of people who were quite important. Then I got to know my wife and her parents spent a few years when my wife was very young in Nigeria, she was actually born there. He worked for the UN for a couple of years. They always talked so positively about that experience, that drove something in me. That was something I wanted to do as well, having a young family, going abroad and experience the rest of the world. We also have friends in London who are a part of that Nigerian connection, and they were also travelling and working and living abroad, so they had great stories to tell as well. Then you hear these stories, they are important and they just created something. That maybe also was one of my drivers when I wanted to go and work, to say, “I definitely want to work for an organisation where there is a lot of exposure to the wider globe.” Even coming into ABN AMRO those days, the workforce in Amsterdam was very international, and we operated in English, and then I was being offered the opportunity to go abroad, that was great. But even before I went abroad, I was travelling quite a lot for the bank, and we went to different places.

 Jeroen: And yet, you are still working very internationally, but you decided to live here at some point. Was that a conscious decision?

Harm: Yes, I always bless myself to be quite lucky with our decisions. When we moved to London, that was also a bit of an instant decision because this was in the midst of the financial crisis and RBS had done this acquisition and got themselves into trouble, government bail-out and so on. At that stage, it was a discussion of, “It’s the end of my assignment in Malaysia, what are we going to do?” In the end, we ended up in London because I think they needed a couple of people that knew the ABN business really well. We then worked through the restructuring. But I still remember we were on holiday sailing in the Netherlands and I got a call from London, “Will you please be in London tomorrow?” I didn’t have a suit with me whatsoever, so I drove down to Leeuwarden, bought a suit, bought shoes, bought a tie, jumped on a plane, went there and got interviewed. Then I went home and said, “I think we can go to London.” My wife said, “Let’s go for it, let’s give it a try.” We lived in London for nearly seven years, so longer than in Malaysia and Tokyo. And then we made a decision, because my youngest two children would finish primary school, they would start secondary school, so we were at the stage of saying, “Do we want to recommit for another seven years, so they can do secondary school?” We decided at that point, “Maybe it’s good for them to get some roots somewhere.” Otherwise, you keep travelling around, and we made the decision to go back to the Netherlands. It was almost like a coincidence, because we made that decision at Christmas 2015 and in the summer of 2016, Brexit happened. RBS then asked me the question, “We need to do something with European licences. Can you please figure out what we need to do?” So I ended up flying around, seeing different regulators. And then it was a full-circle story as well, I realised that in Amsterdam we still had the licence of the old ABN and the legal entity was also the old ABN AMRO entity. That’s how that break-up of the bank was done. RBS ended up owning it, so that was a valuable thing we definitely needed to keep. So that’s how I ended up back in the Netherlands. But it was more coincidentally than I planned. But I think the plan was for the family, it was right to go back. So that’s what we did.

This is Leaders in Finance with Jeroen Broekema.

 Jeroen: So it’s very clear that one aspect of Harm is the international drive and your interest in different cultures and countries et cetera. What are other particular things, if we’d like to get to know you better as a person, that are important to know?

Harm: Relationships to me are really important. My family is incredibly important to me. I have a close group of friends that are really important to me. So I really value relationships. Maybe also in terms of keeping a relationship with old colleagues you worked for. I just talked earlier around us being back in APEC, and I had lunch with old colleagues from back then. I really enjoyed that, to keep the relationship. Another thing that’s really important to me is integrity and honesty. I also do value in my work and approach that is based around these values, particularly different phases in my career, being involved in quite difficult restructuring and having to lay off people and all of that. But I think that is very important, you do that in a respectful manner, and you do that with an eye for your people and the person as well.

 Jeroen: Have you had moments where you were asked to do things that were pretty much going against your level of integrity?

Harm: That exists, and sometimes it’s simply at a transactional deal level.

 Jeroen: What do you do? I’m just curious, what do you in practice do? Because that is where people can learn from. If you feel like, “This is something I actually don’t want to do”, are you then going against it right away? What is your way of dealing with these moments? Because I think everybody can relate to that.

Harm: I think it’s testing. One test I’ve been using is a test I call ‘moments that matter’. You have a dilemma, and you need to make a decision, and you say, “How do we approach that?” One test I think is a very insightful way of thinking about a problem is, “If this decision one way or another would end up in the newspaper in three or four- or five-years’ time, would I be comfortable with that article or not?” And if the answer to that question is, “I actually would not be comfortable”, then you need to go back to the drawing table and think, “Is this the right decision?” Because it may be convenient in the short term, but in the long term it may be problematic. I think this is so important, this is also a part of the culture that we are trying to build.

 Jeroen: But if your boss is against it? You can get in these moments where you have to – not to trade in your integrity, because that is what you don’t want – but I guess they can be difficult moments, especially when you are restructuring, as you said. This is about people, and it’s about relationships, what you find important as well.

Harm: Yes, and it’s about the quality of the dialogue you need to have with your boss. I remember sitting down at a stage of my career to say, “I don’t think this is the right decision, I don’t think we should take it.” And explain why you believe that’s the case. Quite often, people are listening. Certainly, there has been a lot of focus since the financial crisis on these kinds of matters within the financial services industry. So I feel these big egos, running around and making hot-headed decisions are not part of the system any more. So I think there’s room for speaking up, there is room for making good and well-informed decisions. Not only for the short term, but also for the long term. I don’t think you should be in a position to trade off our integrity. Truly, if it comes to being forced, you then need to wonder.

 Jeroen: You seem to be someone who looks for the dialogue, right? You seem to be nuanced there. But did you have moments – you don’t need to specifically name them – where you ultimately decided, “This is not going to work for me, so I’m going to leave”, or are you always keeping up the dialogue and ultimately finding some way to deal? Or are there also moments where you say, “No, I can’t do this, I don’t want to do this”?

Harm: I think I’ve managed through that. There certainly have been moments when there was a direction, and you say, “I don’t think this works.” But then through dialogue, through good conversations, in a way I’m very rational as well to step back and say, “Do we understand the risks of this decision? Do we understand the short-term and long term?”, and then make informed decisions. I’m a big believer that people come to work to do the right thing. They’re not trying to fool the system. So, I also do believe in empowering people to make decisions. But you need to sometimes have these honest conversations, certainly at management level, to say, “Hang on, this is actually not working. We shouldn’t be doing this, we need to draw a line here.” And we do that.

 Jeroen: One question which is very general which I quite often ask, but you can take it any way you like. Have there been moments in your life, either in your career or private life, that have been crucial and have had a massive impact? Moving to Japan definitely is one, I’m sure. You mentioned that one, but are there other things?

Harm: There are certainly things. Having a family around you with children is an important moment because you suddenly feel an additional responsibility. It’s not just about yourself and if you’re out of a job, it may impact your children. So I think that’s a moment that is changing life, but with a very positive driver behind it. I think my international experience is being really quite impactful, because it’s not only learning about the other culture. The perspective you have on the Netherlands is changing, there are things you take for granted, or you think you are quite organised here, and then you see something in another place, and you think, “Maybe we’re not that organised” or you see certain things abroad, and you never really valued that and think, “We’re pretty well-off here in the Netherlands.” So you really learn about your own country, about your own culture and your own background. That has been really impactful for me.

 Jeroen: I can imagine. We always do a pleaser and a teaser, the pleaser is always the same. Let’s start with the teaser. What I’ve written down is a question to you, not as the CEO of MUFG Europe, but as a Dutchman or western European. It would be good for the Netherlands, in this case or any other small country in Europe, if it would also next to international banks and players have its own significant investment banking or corporate banking capabilities itself.

Harm: Yes, I would fully agree with that statement.

 Jeroen: Do we still have it?

Harm: It’s de-emphasized. And I think it’s good for any country as a matter of fact, but the Netherlands as well, in order to run a successful economy, you need to have a strong financial sector. The Netherlands has always been an international trading economy, therefore having banks that can support that system is quite important.

 Jeroen: But you can also get that from banks like yourself, right? These are always the stories, I’m just trying to tease a bit more because otherwise it’s not a teaser, but you can also say, “There are things that you can get from other countries, like other countries get stuff from us that we own only or are the only ones that use it that are building it”?

Harm: I would turn it around to say, “What strategy to a country like a financial sector do you want to fully outsource that or do you want to own part of it or at least a position in it?” And I think it’s rightful inside the economy we are and the structure of our economy to have a good local set of banks that can support it. And I’m not saying they’re not.

 Jeroen: Locally, I think it’s a still relatively big industry in the Netherlands. Is just, when it comes to investment banking, serving the large companies from an investment banking perspective with all the different products that come with investment banking, I’m trying to figure out with you how strategic that is.

Harm: I think it’s strategic, and I think it is strategic to have good positions across all layers of the economy. So I think it’s strategic that you have banks that support individuals with good and fair products. I think it’s very important for small and medium enterprises that there are really good banks that help support because these companies typically could grow to something really bigger and be able to support that. And equally, there are very large companies or international companies that have shifting needs. I think it’s really important that there are parties that can help these clients. The international banking business is a very international business, so it’s logical that you would probably find a mix of international banks.

 Jeroen: What should we do as a country from a political viewpoint or maybe a banking viewpoint to get a player like that? Because that would be good for the country, you say. So what should we do?

Harm: A long-term plan and a long-term view on these things and say, “Do we in the Netherlands create the conditions for these banking services to be provided? How can we help and support the system?” I think the other interesting point is that with Brexit, there’s a bit of recalibration around locations of institutions. There are banks moving to Paris, Frankfurt, some to Amsterdam. Within these developments, I think it’s logical to say, “Where do we want to be with Amsterdam, the Netherlands and where do we stand?”

 Jeroen: Should that be driven by The Hague, by politics? Or is it driven by the supervisor or driven by the industry? What are those conditions, in other words?

Harm: I think it’s all of them. I can say that when I went around for NatWest and got the assessment around what’s the right location, clearly, I think there are a lot of points where the Netherlands scored really well. So I think we do speak our languages, the infrastructure both digital and physical is really good and of very high quality. We’re a stable economy, a stable partner to the EU. All these things are good. I think we have a good regulator for banks and other regulated financial industries. So there is a lot to say that it’s a good location. But then there’s always going to be some level of competition, I guess, with other locations. I think there should be an assessment and if you ask, “What’s the most important part?”, I think it’s the parties coming together. So I think as a financial sector, talking to public policymakers, it’s talking to regulators and saying, “How do we want to be positioned?”

 Jeroen: It kind of feels like, if you think this is a good thing, because that is obviously the bitter ball, I think a lot of people in Switzerland are not necessarily happy with a massive bank there, but that is a whole other story. But if you think it’s a good plan, you’re saying that there is a lack of leadership to have one plan: this is what we want for the Netherlands?

Harm: Yes, and to be focused on that. I’m not saying we should have one large institution here, but a dynamic, well-developed financial service industry is important for any economy and therefore for the Netherlands. It should be on the agenda of the institutions themselves, it should be a healthy dialogue with people in The Hague, it should be a healthy dialogue with regulators, to say, “What can we do to actually build and get there?”

 Jeroen: Very interesting. On the pleasing side, do you like to read, first of all? And if so, do you have particular books that have either inspired you or that you would like to gift or otherwise?

Harm: I have a couple of books. I must say that I don’t read that many books because there is so much reading to be done. For the younger listeners, maybe if you are considering going into the financial services industry, you do typically read a lot. A lot of that is more internal documentation or the newspapers or The Economist and things like that. But when I was on holiday, I read two books. One I have to mention, because it’s an old connection of me, is Looking into the Soul of Japan. It’s written by Freek Vossenaar. I know him from my days in Tokyo, he was with the embassy. I think it’s a really interesting book for people who want to get a little bit under the skin of what the Japanese culture is and really read into some of those dynamics and how that society operates. I think it’s a really interesting book. The other book I was reading is – because of all the geopolitical change happening in the world right now, and I think that’s becoming an increasingly important topic, also for us as an institution to consider – was Six Studies in World Strategies, written by Henry Kissinger. He describes the lives of what he believes are six real leaders with distinctive strategies around stage craft. He’s describing post-war, what he has done to give Germany back its pride as a nation, he talks about the goal of a very outspoken person, Nixon, Sadat, Singaporean leader and Thatcher. So I thought it was a really interesting book to read if you want to understand what’s happening at these big conference tables.

 Jeroen: What was something that springs to mind now that you really vividly remember from that book?

Harm: That persons in the room matter and that sometimes people can really drive the world into different directions and that these moments where these big leaders sometimes come together make a real difference. He’s describing how Nixon was rebuilding relationships with China. It’s not just the state machinery behind it and policymakers, in the end, it’s around the people who you meet, the beliefs they have, and so on. I thought that was a really interesting book. And then perhaps the other book that I find insightful and inspiring is the Chimp Paradox, which is a famous book by professor Steve Peters. What he’s describing is clinically what’s happening in your brain as you operate and as you respond to a crisis or a moment of stress. He’s doing that in a very simple way, and you learn a lot about why if you’re driving a car, it’s more likely that you have a stressful moment that you might be shouting at other car drivers on the road and then how the brain helps to process it. And also techniques you can use yourself to manage it. He’s been coaching a number of Olympic athletes and helping them. One of the famous stories for him is the GB cyclist team. They were very successful at the Olympics, so you’re training years and years and years for that moment, and then you need to perform. If you don’t control your stress levels and your anxiety, you may be failing. So he was using these techniques.

 Jeroen: Are you using them as well after reading a book like this? Is it practical and applicable?

Harm: It is applicable, and it gave me insight that you sometimes need a moment to take a deep breath and to allow yourself time to get the emotions out of the system, and then you can actually approach difficult topics better sometimes. So it’s a really applicable book. I found it to be an interesting read.

 Jeroen: It’s a great list, Looking into the Soul of Japan, Henry Kissinger’s Six Studies book, The Chimp Paradox. It’s a very interesting combination. You’ve clearly thought about it, because it really shows who you are as well, I think. That’s great. Some smaller questions at the end of this podcast, one is: I’ve asked 140 leaders in finance, leadership does matter, that’s why we gave it this name, but do you have tips for people who start their careers? It would be great if you focus on financial services, but it could be anywhere.

Harm: I think the most important thing that I can give as advice to people is to follow your heart.

 Jeroen: What does that mean?

Harm: It means you need to get a job that you feel passionate about. Early in your career, it’s also fine if you choose something that just doesn’t work out. But you need to feel that fire, that passion.

 Jeroen: Did you always have that in the beginning? Sometimes you also just need to do it, right?

Harm: You have moments in your career when things don’t work your way, or you end up with the manager. But the essence of what the business is doing is something that really needs to interest you. Because you go read a lot about it, you’re spending hours a day working on it. So if you’re in a place that actually doesn’t interest you, I think you should reconsider and say, “Is this really where my heart is?” So follow your heart and be passionate about what you do. I think if you’re passionate about what you do, you’re likely to be much higher into your own motivation and engagement to really care about what you’re working on. So I think that’s one. I would say the second thing is to be brave. I think sometimes taking calculated risk is a good thing. So you need to pull yourself a little bit out of your comfort zone and not wait for things to come your way.

 Jeroen: Have you done that?

Harm: Yes, around my ambition to move abroad, I’ve been very vocal and made it clear to my manager. Back then, I had the discussion to say, “I want to move abroad, what do I need to do to be considered?” And then we worked on that.

 Jeroen: Two things came together, you were passionate about it.

Harm: Yes, correct. You then need to follow through and be brave and take a calculated risk. And also work hard. I’ve always worked hard, but it’s maybe easier if you’re in a job that you really like to do. So the job is giving me energy. You need to also have beaks, and you need to look after your work-life-balance a little bit. I was always lucky that I can leave the office and forget about things and not worry about things.

 Jeroen: That is a characteristic of you, or it’s more a character thing than something you learned, I guess?

Harm: I think so. But if you feel it doesn’t work, you need to find ways to do it. So I think it’s fine if it’s in the work-life-balance because every individual needs to recharge once in a while, spend time with friends and family, go on holiday, go on a break. Go on long walks, exercise, whatever it is that works for you. But you need to have these moments.

 Jeroen: What is it for you?

Harm: For me, it’s spending time with the family. Now that the children are growing up, I love to hear how they’re doing and what’s going on in their lives. I love to spend time with friends, I love cooking as well.

 Jeroen: Japanese, I guess?

Harm: Sometimes Japanese, but it’s a moment for me to completely disconnect from everything. I’m in the kitchen, I have a nice piece of music on, I’ll do my cooking. I like to do that. And also sometimes sports, to just go out running and forget about everything, empty your head. Good music, your headphones and off you go.

 Jeroen: Is it popular music, classical?

Harm: A mix of stuff. When I’m running, it has to be something that’s quite energetic.

 Jeroen: Some beat?

Harm: Yes.

 Jeroen: You have four kids and I have four kids, we talked about it before this recording. Do you have tips for people? Because your kids are a bit older now, but do you have tips for people who have young kids? It doesn’t have to be four kids, it could be one or two or any number. But do you have tips for them how to manage if they’re also very eager to be very productive and successful in their careers but also balance that with their personal lives? Do you have things that are maybe helpful for them?

Harm: One of the things that you got to take care of is your situation at home. You need to have discussions with your partner. This is a new responsibility, and you can’t just ignore it. So I think you need to tackle it head on and say, “How do we run this together?” With my partner as well, she had a career.

 Jeroen: Is she still in finance?

Harm: No, she isn’t in finance any longer, she actually moved on, which I also found a very interesting job. She’s in social auditing, she’s auditing supply chains of big corporates on their ethical approach and really testing facilities and factories. I think she’s now out in Zeeland today in a factory there. She’s doing that work, so you need to find ways to make it work at home. I had a number of people talking to me about international assignments who are committing to do a commute arrangement. People sitting in London, coming to Amsterdam. I would normally have a very discussion, “Have you sorted this out at home? Are you sure you can commit to this?” Don’t put yourself into something that you can’t manage.

 Jeroen: So you help others as well?

Harm: I think you need to have that reality check. For example, if your family is in London and I had a couple of these cases when I was at NatWest and you commit to being in Amsterdam five days a week, that’s a big commitment. I think you then need to have that discussion to say, “Are you sure this is going to work in the long term?” Sometimes people then come to the conclusion, “Maybe not.” That’s honest, and then we need to look for other opportunities and make them match. But have that conversation at home, I think that’s key. Because if your home situation is stressful, it’s likely that you’ll take your stress to work, and you’re not going to be able to perform in a certain way.

 Jeroen: And vice versa as well.

Harm: Yes, correct.

 Jeroen: We’ve had quite a conversation, we’ve learned a lot about you, we’ve learned a lot about MUFG. I’m very thankful for that, I’m going to thank you more explicitly very soon, but my last question is: is there something that I should have asked or something you would have loved to speak about that we should bring to the table? We can probably do it now.

Harm: We covered so much ground, I must say. I don’t think we’ve missed much, actually. I really enjoyed the conversation. You asked some really good questions.

 Jeroen: I’m going to thank you, because you did all the heavy lifting. I didn’t, I just asked a couple of questions. Thanks so much, Harm, for taking a lot of time to speak to Leaders in Finance, to speak to me. I was listener number one, I really enjoyed it. So thanks a lot! I’m pointing to it now, I’m giving you a present to additionally thank you, and I’m really curious to follow your career and to see what other things are going to happen in the future. Thanks a lot for telling a lot about yourself as well as about the bank.

Harm: Thanks for having me, and I’m really glad to be here. Thank you!

You’ve been listening to Leaders in Finance, we hope you’ve enjoyed the episode, and we’d love to hear from you. What’s on your mind, who would you like to hear next? Tell us in an Apple or Google review, via e-mail or our social media channels. We’d greatly appreciate it! Finally, we’d like to thank our partners for their ongoing support. They are: Kayak, EY, Odgers Berndtson executive search and Roland Berger. Thank you for listening!

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